•Death toll now 40 —Akeredolu

•Erosion of inhumanity enveloping the nation —ACF

Shops, banks, markets remain shut

Killers cursed for violating God’s house—Olowo 

•Govt to provide land for mass burial; plans memorial park

•Opens account for public donations

Killers, their sponsor will perish —Oyedepo

By Dayo Johnson, Gabriel Olawale & Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo

MARKET women in Owo town, Ondo State, yesterday, protested the killings of worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church, in Owo and rained curses on the perpetrators of the evil act.

This came as shops, markets and other commercial centres remained shut since last Sunday’s attack.

Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, yesterday, expressed shock over the Owo killings, describing the act as the most barbaric and implacable human act in recent times.

The protesters, who marched through the major streets in the town, urged security agencies to fish out the killers.

The angry protesters visited the seven traditional and revered sites in the town, where they rained curses on the attackers.

On their way to the shrine, the protesters chanted incantations and declared that the killers won’t know peace until they are brought to book.

They later visited the St. Francis Catholic Church, where they were received by a laity, who assured the women that the perpetrators won’t go unpunished by God for defiling his sanctuary.

Killers cursed for violating God’s house —Olowo

Addressing the protesters, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, assured them that the attackers have already been cursed for violating the house of God.

Oba Ogunoye urged the aggrieved people not to vent their anger on innocent people, assuring that adequate measures had been taken to ensure that the perpetrators were apprehended.

Speaking with newsmen, the Iyaloja of Owo, Mrs. Iwaloye, condemned the dastardly act and said that the women were pained by the unfortunate incident of last Sunday.

Meanwhile, markets in the ancient town remained closed, as few traders were seen lurking around their shops.

While giving update on the death toll, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, however, said that the casualty figures recorded during the attack has risen to 40.

He also assured that the state government will provide land for the mass burial of the victims of the Owo terror attack.

The governor said the new figure followed the harmonisation of the reports from the various hospitals, including the private ones.

Speaking while playing host to a team of Catholic Bishops from the South-West, led by Reverend Leke Abegunrin, the governor said: “127 persons were involved in the attack, while 61 survivors are still on admission in different hospitals. 26 persons have been discharged, while 40 persons died.

“I have been looking for a word to describe what we witnessed in Owo on that Sunday. But I’m not too sure I can find one, because it is indescribable.

“There is no word to describe it. If you say horrific, dastardly, horrendous, all those ones are common words and we use them for many things.

“But I have been looking for a better word to use because we have witnessed barbaric elements, animals in human’s skin.

“If you are humans you would not do what they have done. May be there are areas where they will do such a thing and they are not worried.

“But here, we are worried because it is not something we are used to. Human life means a lot to us.

“That is why one is moved. We will have a Memorial Park here where those who died in the attack will be buried. We will find a good place as a Memorial Park.

“It will also be my suggestion that even if there are people who have retrieved members of their families, we must still have a symbolic grave there for them. And it will be there forever, it is not something we can forget and we should never forget it.”

On the update on the figures, the Governor said: “The medical team led by the Commissioner for Health has sent figure to us, and it is slightly different.

“What I put out during my address on the broadcast to the State was wrong and we must accept it.

“The figure I have now shows that 127 persons were involved, and that the number of deaths now is 40.

“On admission receiving treatment we have 61; 26 have been discharged. Those are the figures we have now from the commissioner for Health. So, government is not hiding anything.”

Earlier, Bishop Abegunrin, who expressed his sadness over the attack, described it as an attack on God.

The cleric said: “We were saddened when watching on our small phones and later in the evening the whole episode as it was on the public television, it was really sad.

“The Bishops of Yorubaland in Lagos and Ibadan province are here to commiserate with you, Owo people, the people of Ondo State and with our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church and Ondo Diocese.

“It is very painful, it can provoke people to retaliate and do what is ungodly but we are people of faith; we leave everything to God to judge but humanly speaking, we heard what you have been doing in the state that those people who did this havoc to us will be brought to book before long and we are happy about that.

“For some time now since Amotekun started we know what you have been doing in Ondo State, that you are protecting the people in cities and villages.

“Even with threat and warnings, you shun every threat to provide security for the people and their property.

“They attack human beings, but our own interpretation is that they attack God and the consequences are awaiting them.

“Whatever you have to do to bring them to book, I pray God to assist and protect you.”

Also, the Catholic Bishop of Ondo, Jude Arogundade, said the visit was to comfort one another and also inform the Governor about the plan to organise a befitting burial for the lost souls.

Arogundade said: “We are gathered here to comfort one another; it has been very difficult and painful not just because the incident happened in Owo but in Ondo Diocese. We are preparing for the funeral of the people who died at the incident

“You have always taken the Catholic Church so highly in everything, that is the kind of person you are because you love God and respect him and you are a man of your word, you are the kind of leader we look up to in Yoruba land and Nigeria.”

Earlier, Arogundade, who presented the list of the deceased to the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, insisted that 38 worshippers were murdered in the attack.

Arogundade had led the Catholic Bishops from the Ecclesiastical Provinces in the South-West Region to the palace of Olowo of Owo.

He said: “The figure was from the record of the church and the list contained the names and the contacts of the deceased.

“We said the number of the people that died is 38. This is the list that contains their names and their contacts just to confirm the figure we gave out.

“What happened is bad it is only in war situation that such things happen.”

Responding, Oba Ogunoye promised to consult with his chiefs on the request of the church in the provision of a land.”

Killers, their sponsor will perish —Oyedepo

Also condemning the act, founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, Bishop David Oyedepo, yesterday, expressed his anger and frustration over the killings of worshipers.

Oyedepo, who is the Presiding Bishop of Winners’ Chapel International, said this during a sermon at the church’s headquarters, Ota in Ogun State.

The cleric declared instant judgment on the killers, saying they will perish with their sponsors.

He said: “The devil is very scared of the church because that is where God empowers his people to rule in the midst of the enemies. That is why those vagabonds were out there in Ondo State to kill.

“I can tell you this, if they escape death, God has not sent me. Their generation will smell, and the people who sent them will smell. They shall be forgotten. The back of their camel is already broken.

“Everybody living is created by God. All the gang-up from hell against the well-being of this nation has come under a curse. Curse be to all those causing attacks in this country.”

 Akeredolu directs LG bosses to set up vigilantes

In a move aimed at preventing a repeat of the Owo attack, Governor Akeredolu has directed all the 18 council chairmen to set up community security guards otherwise known as Vigilantes in their respective councils, to enhance security at the grassroots level.

The governor noted that the Amotekun Corps would assist in training them for effective security of their respective domains.

He said: “We have a challenge, so sit down among yourselves and work out how to have Local Government Vigilante in your area just like we now have Amotekun in the state. Nothing is stopping you from using all you can to secure your areas.”

He, however, described the Owo attack as a tragic incident beyond any sense of decency and a serious assault on humanity.

He said: “You can’t fathom what these mindless terrorists did in that church. You can’t imagine it until you get there. To make matters worse if you have the opportunity of visiting the hospital facilities where a couple of victims are being treated, you cannot but weep.

“I cannot still fathom the reason behind the attack. Are they antichrists? I don’t know why they went into the church to kill. Are they anti-Catholic? Are they anti-Owo that they choose to come to Owo? One cannot understand it.”

 Opens bank account for public donations

The governor also announced the opening of an account to assist the victims of the terrorist attack in Owo.

Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, said: “Efforts are deepened to ensure that the survivors of the attack at various hospitals are given the best medical care.”

Erosion of inhumanity enveloping the nation —ACF

Reacting to the Owo killings, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, in a statement by its Secretary-General, Murtala Aliyu said: “The ACF frowns at such animalistic attack on a peace-loving community, in which scores of lives were lost, with others battling for their lives in the hospitals.

Similar killings had earlier taken place in mosques in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and Kaduna states, in the North West and Borno and Yobe states in the North East.

“These attacks of worship centres are aimed at setting our dear peace-loving people against each other.

“The Arewa Consultative Forum will, strongly, appreciate all efforts be put in bringing the culprits to book.

“The Forum shall not take any excuse of linking such dastardly act to only unknown gunmen, as we live and dine with the perpetrators in our communities.

It is, no more, acceptable to allow such inexorable killings to happen without an inkling of an intelligence report that could nib that in the bud.”

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