Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State have warned that the Southwest would not tolerate another unprovoked attack. He described the June 5 terrorist attack on the St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo as “one too many”.
At least 40 worshippers were killed during the attack, with many injured.
Akeredolu spoke while receiving his counterparts Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara). The three governors donated N75 million to victims.
In Lagos, Sanwo-Olu directed that flags be flown at half-mast for three days to mourn the victims.
Akeredolu noted that the people of the Southwest had always been peaceful.
He said: “We are part of this country and we have always come to this country in peace and we have maintained peace.
“We have been trying every time to maintain Nigeria because we believe in Nigeria.
“Let someone point to an incident in which we left our enclave or we left this peaceful environment and went to cause problems in other places. Let them tell us.
“We have come to this country in peace, and now people want to visit us with war. You want to maim and kill us; it is not easy.
“It is a dreadful assault. I said to people that if we were at war and we were armed and faced ourselves, in one day 40 people would not die from our side. But this is not war, we were not at war.
“This is an assault on us, on our psyche. We cannot continue this way. We believe in this place, we believe in the Southwestern region. We believe in Yoruba. Is Yoruba part of the Nigeria we believe in? Yes.
“If you get to the scene, I’m sure it will bring tears out of your eyes. These criminals, these animals in human skin, what they did was horrendous.
“They did not come to kidnap, they did not come to steal, they took no dime. They went into the church and shot at everything within their sight.”
|| Guide To Healthy Eating Habits And Well Researched Diet Routines – FOOD THERAPIST
Abiodun, who spoke on behalf of the other governors, wondered why Akeredolu’s town was targeted.
He announced the donation of N25 million each from the governors.
Abiodun said: “We find this attack as not just on the good people of Owo, or the good people of Ondo State, but the entire people of the Southwest.
“We know that you (Akeredolu) have been at the vanguard of ensuring peace and security for your people. You are the champion of the Amotekun in the Southwest.
“We, your brothers, wonder if this is more personal because of the role you have played in ensuring that our zone is secured.
“One wonders if there is a particular reason this attack was launched in your hometown of Owo.
“We are deeply pained; we are deeply saddened and we commiserate with you. We pray for the lives of the departed. We pray that the almighty God forgives their sins and accepts their souls.”
The Lagos State government said the decision to mourn the victims came at a Southwest Governors’ June 10 virtual meeting, which reviewed the security situation in the region.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, had said in a statement: “The governors condemned in very strong terms the horrendous crime perpetrated by terrorists against the people and residents of Owo, Ondo State and, by extension, the peace-loving people of the Southwest…
“Governor Sanwo-Olu urges Lagos residents and visitors to remain law-abiding and vigilant as the government is doing everything to ensure that peace continues to prevail in the state.”
THE FRIDAY BURIAL
During the mass burial on Friday, 17th June, 2022, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, failed to withhold his emotion at the funeral for the victims.
Akeredolu and his wife, Chief Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu attended the funeral mass held at the Mydas Resort and Hotel, Owo.
The teary governor while recounting the terror attack, lamented that the government failed to defend the victims of the attack.
“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 support. They will not triumph over us forever,” Akeredolu said.
The governor noted that something must be done in the country, adding that the security architecture of the nation needs rejigging.
“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. But 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,” the governor said.
The Bishop of Ondo Catholic Diocese, Dr. Jude Arogundade, while speaking said Akeredolu has not failed in protecting his people.
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.”
The cleric wondered why the people of the country need to beg for state police, despite the endless attack and killings.
He 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 happen has blood on their hands.
Moreso, the expansive hall of the Mydas Resort and Hotel was filled to the brim as families of the victims, people of Owo, and other sympathizers thronged the venue of the funeral mass.
Members of the State House of Assembly, led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. David Bamidele Oleyelogun also attended the service.
Also, Members of the state executive council, led by the Secretary to the State Government, Princess Oladunni Odu, were present at the funeral mass.
Other dignitaries at the funeral mass included: Former Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko; Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, 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, Ondo State chapter, Hon. Augustine Oloruntogbe.
In the same vein, Akeredolu had on Thursday warned the Federal Government that its inability to secure life and property in the country would soon leave citizens with no choice but to arm themselves in self-defense.
Akeredolu, who gave the warning while delivering the keynote address at the meeting of the Attorney-Generals of the 36 States of Nigeria held in Lagos, said the police were overwhelmed.
The governor asked the police to “close shop” if the Federal Government could not meet their equipment needs.
Akeredolu insisted that the police had failed in their constitutional role of protecting Nigerians.
“We will carry arms very soon, Oga Malami (the AGF), there is no other way, the police have failed,” the governor declared.
Twenty-one coffins were brought to the church for the funeral service.