UN to Nigeria: Bring Perpetrators of Owo Catholic Church Attack to Justice

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.

The secretary-general’s comments came as the United Kingdom’s House of Commons debated the gruesome killing. And a team from the World Health Organisation (WHO), led by the Country Representative and Head of Mission, Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo, visited Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu yesterday in Akure to commiserate with him over the incident.

The Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers lamented the carnage, in a statement yesterday by its chairman, Oba Gabriel Ayodele Adejuwon. The Obas charged the security agencies to be more decisive in dealing with security issues.

A statement from the UN secretary-general quoted him as condemning attacks on places of worship as abhorrent, while urging the Nigerian authorities to spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators of the Owo attack to justice.

Guterres extended his condolences to the families of the victims, wished speedy recovery to the injured, and expressed his sympathies and solidarity with the government and people of Nigeria.

UK Parliament Debates Massacre, Decries Rising Insecurity in Nigeria

The UK Parliament considered the bloody attack in Owo a matter of urgent international importance. Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Vicky Ford, said she was horrified by the attack.

Ford stated, “I publicly express the UK Government’s condemnation of this heinous act and stress the importance of those responsible being brought to justice in accordance with the law. The High Commission in Nigeria has also expressed our condolences to the governor of Ondo State and offered our support. I know that the House will join me in sending our condolences to the families and communities of those killed.”

The under-secretary decried rising insecurity in Nigeria and the devastating effect on affected communities.

She said, “I have raised this issue with the Nigerian authorities on several occasions, including in conversations with Nigeria’s vice president and foreign minister during my visit in February. During that visit, I also met regional governors, religious leaders and non-governmental organisations to discuss inter-communal violence and freedom of religion or belief.

“It is clear that religious identity can be a factor in incidents of violence in Nigeria and that Christian communities have been victims, but the root causes are often complex and frequently also relate to competition over resources, historical grievances and criminality, so the UK Government is committed to working with Nigeria to respond to insecurity.

“At our security and defence dialogue with Nigeria in February, we committed to work together to respond to the conflict. We are supporting local and national peace-building efforts in Nigeria, including through the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and National Peace Committee.

“We provide mentoring and capacity building to support Nigerian police force units, to improve their anti-kidnap capacity, and we support efforts to address the drivers and enablers of serious and organised crime in Nigeria. At our security and defence dialogue, we reiterated our shared understanding and commitment to protecting human rights for all.”

Ondo Confirms 22 Dead, 18 Injured, 88 casualties

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, 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 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.”

The Commissioner for Health in Ondo State, Dr. Banji Ajaka, had revealed yesterday that a total of 22 worshippers were confirmed dead. Ajaka, who spoke in an interview with journalists in Akure, also confirmed the official casualty figure in the attack on the church, which occurred during Mass.

The official confirmation came less than 24 hours after the Nigeria Police issued a statement, saying it recovered unexploded Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and pellets of expended AK-47 ammunition from the scene of the attack.

At the time of filing this report, the motive of the assailants remained unspecified, even though the police said they had launched an investigation into the attack.

Leave a Reply