The Commissioner of Police in Ondo State, Mr Oyeyemi Oyediran, says he has deployed officers of the Explosive Ordinance Device Unit (anti-bomb squad) to the scene of the explosion in Owo Local Government Area of the state.
This is contained in a statement by the command’s spokesperson, Funmilayo Odunlami, on Sunday in Akure.
There were sporadic gunshots and later explosion by unmasked terrorists who joined the congregation for sermon on Sunday at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo. Over 50 have been confirmed dead while many are lying in hospitals.
The CP said efforts were being intensified to arrest those who perpetrated the evil.
“The command is aware of the attack at Owo, we will give you the full details of the incident later.
“We want to implore the people of the state to be calm as all security apparatus are currently active to ensure peace in the area,” Oyediran said.
Over 80 persons have been confirmed dead as at the time of this report.
One of the priests at St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, Ondo State, Father Andrew Abayomi, has given an account of how the church was attacked.
Abayomi who spoke during an interview with BBC Yoruba, said suspected terrorists struck as the church service was wrapping up.
He said. “We were about to round off service. I had even asked people to start leaving, that was how we started hearing gunshots from different angles.”
“We hide inside the church but some people had left when the attack happened. We locked ourselves in the church for 20 minutes. When we heard that they had left, we opened the church and rushed victims to the hospital.”
Meanwhile, the state’s governor, Rotimi Akeredolu described the attack as “vile and satanic”, saying it was a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.
Akeredolu cut all plans to be at the scene.
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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. 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 those who lost dear 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.
A declaration of war against Yoruba People — Akintoye
Also, leader of the Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, IOOW, Professor Banji Akintoye, have described the deadly attack by Gunmen suspected to be Fulani Herdsmen, leaving about 85 people dead, as a declaration of war against the Yoruba people.
Responding through the Communications Secretary of IOOW, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, Akintoye urged Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, to declare an emergency against the activities of Fulani Herdsmen in the state with immediate effect.
The renowned scholar said the effrontery of the Fulani Marauders needs to be frankly and courageously confronted so as to prove to their sponsors that the Yoruba people can never be intimidated or subjugated.
He said: “We have stated it very expressly that the Yoruba people need to negotiate their exit from Nigeria as a matter of urgency but our Partisan Political Actors in Yoruba Land never took us serious. We warned them that there’s fire on the mountain but we were mocked because of their personal aggrandizement.
“Today, we have all been encircled, most especially, in Lagos. For Herdsmen to have the effontery of bombarding a Church in Yoruba Land to kill about 85 people shows that we are now in a realistic danger.
“My urgent advise to Governor Akeredolu is to pick up the gauntlet and declare an emergency against the activities of all Fulani Herdsmen in the state with immediate effect.
“We have now been taken for granted. We need not pretend anymore. We must demand unanimously, an exit from Nigeria.
“We the Yoruba People cannot live in the same country with characters whose idea of common citizenship in Nigeria is to brutalize, subjugate and even exterminate us. It is time to leave these characters now. All Stakeholders – the Elites, Traditional Rulers, Our Women should act now.
“All the South West States, including the Yoruba Leaders in Kogi and Kwara States should equally declare an emergency against the activities of Fulani Herdsmen. We must now take our destinies into our hands.”