•Weeps at funeral of slain victims

By Dayo Johnson, Akure

Tears flowed freely yesterday at the funeral mass for the victims murdered by terrorists at the Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa, Owo, on June 5, this year.

The state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and his wife, Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu attended the funeral mass held at Owo.

Akeredolu, who wept during his speech said the government failed to protect the victims of the terror attack.

He said that the forces on the other side were evil, assuring that they would not triumph forever.

“We have failed to defend these people. Not because we have not tried, but because these forces on the other side are evil and they have supports. They will not triumph over us forever,” he said.

The governor noted that something must be done in the country, adding that the security architecture of the nation needed to be rejigged.

According to him, “when I see the sea of heads that are here it speaks volumes. What has happened to us in Owo in Ondo state is indescribable. A lot of words are used to qualify it; Dastardly, horrendous. I still believe there are words to use to describe it but I am still short of those words.

“We have just 22 (deceased) in this hall. A few of them have been buried because the relatives couldn’t wait till today. But as at the last count, these animals came to the church and murdered 40 people.”

In a swift response, the Bishop of Ondo Catholic Diocese, Dr. Jude Arogundade declared that Governor Akeredolu has not failed in protecting his people. Bishop Arogundade said: “You didn’t fail, you are a strong soldier. Your determination to protect those who voted you into power is unquestionable. This was done by cowards, you have tried your best.”

He wondered why the people of the country need to beg for state police, despite the endless attack and killings. The clergyman thanked the Governor for accepting to designate a memorial park in honour of the victims, stressing that those who created the situation that made the incident happened had blood on their hands.

Meanwhile, the venue was filled to the brim as families of the victims, people of Owo, and other sympathizers thronged the venue of the funeral mass. Dignitaries at the funeral mass included former Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko; Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Engr. Ade Adetimehin and Chieftain of the APC , Chief Olusola Oke,SAN. The local government chairmen were also led by the chairman, Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALCON) Ondo State chapter, Hon. Augustine Oloruntogbe.

We can’t be slaves in our own land – Akeredolu
Meanwhile, Governor Akeredolu has has said that the people of the region would not be slaves in their own land and warned marauders to stay away from the region, stressing that
“the people of the South-West have come to the country in peace and would resist any attempt to visit the region with war”.

He spoke while receiving a delegation of Ondo Province, Anglican Communion, led by the Archbishop of Ondo Province and Bishop of Akure Diocese, Simeon Borokini, who were on condolence visit.

Bishop Borokini was accompanied by Bishops of Owo Diocese, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi; Bishop of Ile-Oluji Diocese, Abel Ajibodu; Bishop of Ondo Diocese, Stephen Oni; Bishop of Idoani Diocese, Adegoke Agarra, among several others.

The governor who described the Owo June 5 church attack as indescribable carnage, however, assured that efforts would be made to prevent such calamity from happening again.

“I’m sure you have visited the Catholic Bishop of Ondo. We are all grieving, it is not limited to Catholic. But this incident happened at St Francis Catholic Church, and it hit them directly. No doubt, it was a carnage on the 5th of June in Owo.

“I was in Abuja and I got several calls and in less than three hours I was already back in Owo. I visited the scene of the crime. When I got there it was still a bit fresh; I saw a pool of blood inside the church here and there. It was very clear to us that the perpetrators came to maim and kill and no other thing.

“They did not kidnap anybody, they did not take a penny, neither did they ask the people for their phones. After blasting the altar, they still went to the Sacristy and killed those hiding there. They started shooting from the gate of the church, according to the account of those who were there.

“I have been to the hospitals severally. When you get to the hospital you will see people who suffered from gunshots and those who can tell the story of their relatives like the woman whose daughter also suffered gunshots, who said she lost her only son who is studying Pharmacy in the university. That child would probably still be in the university if not for ASUU strike.

“If you get to the hospital and see a nurse who walked into the St Francis to pray and today she has no leg again. Her two legs have been amputated.

“When I got to the children ward, that was where I wept because I was convinced and said, what can you call the sins of these children. It did not make sense. You killed many children. Who will not weep? Is that a scene to be happy about? What have these children done? Do they deserve this?

“What happened is indescribable. I keep repeating it, these are animals. You must have lost your sense of humanity to carry out such a dastardly act against the defenceless people. But as Christians we will keep thanking God because in all things we must give thanks.

“It has happened and there is nothing we can do, but we will work to prevent this sort of calamity from happening again.

“Like I have been saying, we have come to this country in peace. We have never gone out of our place to go and cause havoc in any place. It has never happened. We have come to this country in peace and let them leave us in peace”.

He urged all church leaders to install CCTV cameras in their churches and also engage security men to man their churches as part of security measures across the state.

Earlier, Bishop Borokini while commiserating with the Governor, the Catholic church, people of Owo and the state at large, noted that the dastardly act has really affected so many things and as well destabilised everybody.

He disclosed that all the Bishops saluted the courage and action of the governor in protecting the lives and property of the people of the state and the South-West at large through the establishment of Amotekun Corps.

“I know your commitment when it comes to security matters. Everybody including Bishops acknowledge your role in the establishment of Amotekun. Seriously, the incident that happened in Owo came to us as a surprise, and we know you are destabilized. We know how painful it is to you and all of us.”

“You are one of us, you are part of the Anglican Church, you are Chancellor of Owo Diocese and we are very proud of you. We came to identify with you and also share in this grief that has occurred. Borokini said, “We are all pained, we are not happy about it. So, we share with you at this time of grief, it concerns everyone of us and we are solidly behind you in prayers and other things we can do”.


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