Olusegun Ariyo

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has condemned Sunday’s terrorist attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owo, in Ondo State, where 22 persons were reported killed. Guterres, who reacted to the massacre yesterday in a statement by his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, called on the Nigerian government to bring the culprits to justice.

Meanwhile, the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, disclosed that 80 persons were affected by the attack. Akeredolu said 22 people lost their lives, while 56 survivors were on admission at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo; St Louis Hospital, Owo; and Owo General Hospital, as well as some private hospitals.

The governor gave the details yesterday during a statewide broadcast on the terrorist attack.

Akeredolu said the attack was an attempt to test the will of the people of the state and, indeed, the South-west. He added that the dastardly act had the possible consequence of invitation to national anarchy, saying, “Yorubaland and Owo, in particular, have never been conquered before; and it will never happen.”

The governor promised to commit every available resource to hunt down the assailants and make them pay dearly, stressing that the state would never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in its resolve to stamp out criminals.

Akeredolu stated, “The site, that is, St Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa, Owo, presents a gory war-like scene. The Federal Medical Centre, Owo, the St. Louis Hospital, Owo, the General Hospital, and Owo as well as some private hospitals in Owo were filled with the injured, most of who were in critical conditions.

“The most unfortunate part is the lives of innocent children cut down in their prime and some severely injured by the mindless attackers.

“At Owo, the anger was palpable. The tension was at an abrasive level, just as the urge for reprisals was high. Without a doubt, too, the ripple impact of this heinous act as well as the understandably angry reaction across the state could not have been different.

“I urge our people to be calm but remain vigilant. Do not take the law into your own hands. Leave the rest for government to shoulder. I have spoken to the heads of the security agencies. I can assure you that security operatives have been deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.”

on the people to be more vigilant and report strange faces in their vicinities to the authorities.

The governor appreciated the WHO team for identifying with the state and the support given so far. He said he was surprised that such an act could be carried out even in God’s sanctuary.

Akeredolu stressed, “Where else is safe if that sanctuary is not safe. In a war situation, even soldiers could run into the church for safety. These are mad people, I’m not too sure they are human beings. They have lost their own humanity and there is no way you can regard them as human beings. I think they are animals in human skin.

“Initially, it was rumoured that the parish priest was, probably, kidnapped, but when we got there, the parish priest showed up and said nobody was kidnapped. Nobody. They did not go for the Sunday collection and nothing was taken. Clearly, they were there to maim and kill.”

The governor solicited more support from WHO in areas, such as social support.

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