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Nigeria mourns as terrorists kill over 50 church members

By Paul Michael, Orowo Victoria Ojieh, and Friday Omosola

Terrorists on Sunday morning attacked St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo Ondo State, killing over 50 members of the congregation, during service.

No fewer than 50 corpses were moved out of the church with many casualties lying at the Federal Medical Center, Owo, for medical attention.

An eyewitness explained that some gunmen invaded the church during service, and opened fire, killing no fewer than 50 people. He said that the congregation were caught unaware saying the casualty might be more as some worshippers who were taken to the hospital have also gave up on Sunday.

According to him, the gunmen also used some explosives within the compound of the church but said most of the people were hit with gunshots. The perpetrators were said to have fled the scene. Some dead bodies were seen soaked with blood in the church in a video that has gone viral on social media. Reacting to the ugly incident, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria will defeat evil and wicked people.

He condoled with the families, the Catholic Church, and the Government of Ondo State, while mourning the dead victims In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Sunday, Buhari ordered emergency agencies to swing into action, and bring succour to those wounded to avoid further casualties.

The President, who condemned the heinous killing, said only fiends from the nether region could have conceived and carried out such dastardly act, adding that eternal sorrow awaits them both on earth here, and ultimately in the hereafter.

“No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome light. Nigeria will eventually win,” the President said. Meanwhile, the Governor of One State, Arakunrin Akeredolu has owed to hunt down the killers and ensure they are brought to book. Akeredolu, who visited the scene of the incident to get first hand assessment, described the attack as a satanic assault on the peace-loving Ondo people. In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, the governor condemned the attack while condoling with the family of the victims.

He said, “It is a black Sunday in Owo. Our hearts are heavy. Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people. This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state.

“I have spoken to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, who is presently on his way to Owo. Similarly, I have had to cut short my party’s national assignment in Abuja and visit Owo immediately. “This is an unexpected development. I am shocked to say the least.

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Nevertheless, We shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay. We shall never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolves to rid our state of criminals. “I commiserate with my people in Owo, particularly families of the those who lost their lives to this ugly and unfortunate attack. I extend my condolences to Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye as well as the Catholic Church. “I urge our people to remain calm and vigilant. Do not take laws into your hands. I have spoken to the heads of the security agencies.

I have equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.” Akeredolu said. Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has said the attack on the innocent people worshiping at the St Francis Catholic Church Owa-luwa Street, Owo local government on Sunday was directed at Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and the Southwest.

The Organising Secretary of the association, Apagun Kole Omololu, in a statement, the attack was because of the the governor’s support for security in Yoruba land, championing of the Amotekun regional protection outfit, his stringent upholding of the open grazing law, and his ‘big mouth’ about Southern co-operation for equity and justice in Nigeria. The statement read, “The massacre in Owo Chatholic church is a direct attack on Yoruba land We will not succumb to terrorist threats or attack.

“They will not be allowed to bring down our civilisation. We will hunt the killers down. Citizens should not take law into their own hands by attacking innocent northerners. Only the terrorists, who are mostly foreign Fulani, should be fished out and finish off by the security forces.

“This attack is to cause confusion and cause war in our land. We should not play into their hands. This evil is condemned in the strongest term.” Afenifere further commiserated with the government, the Catholic Church, the Olowo of Owo, the people of Owo and the entire people of Ondo state at large. “May the soul of the departed rest in peace,” the statement added.

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