Black Sunday: For Nigerians, it is a sudden Owo Attack!

Sympathisers swarm the Federal Medical Centre, Ondo State to condole with the victims. Photo Credit: Punch News Nigeria.

At the wee hours of a blessed Sunday 5th of this June in Ondo State, a swirling elation beclouded the atmosphere of the Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo State as the huge congregation threw doxologies to the Lord at the holy sanctuary. 

Quite a number of Psalms had been munched to mark the religious holiday of the Pentecost during service, but, alas, the joyful moment wore a new garb like the African chameleon as unknown shooters broke into the Church and spelled grief with bullets they sprayed from the toxic weapons in their hands. 

It is no news that the inglorious reports of tension from terrorism and banditry have recently razed down Nigeria’s political stability.

Ages of Nigerian insecurity

Even though the President of the country, General Muhammadu Buhari, had earlier noted that three hitches battled the country, he did not fail to mention insecurity. 

Not long before, two pastors at one of the Methodist Churches in the country were kidnapped.

As the report has it, the cleric and the two others were reportedly returning from a program in the Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State when the shooters besieged their vehicles and carted them away.

While condemning the attack, the President commented, “Eternal sorrow awaits them both on earth here, and ultimately in the hereafter.”

But this comment sprang up a lot of reactions from Nigerians who were touched by the news story; they urged the President to act and not sit idly in Aso Rock while he has all the necessary powers for action. 

Expressing sorrow with tears, Ogbeni OluwaRotimi Akeredolu said that the vile and satanic attack was a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom, who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.

Inside the story of how it happened

As Abayomi, a passer-by and eyewitness, confirmed, the count of the victims of this dastardly act is 20 worshippers who died immediately, but a health specialist in a nearby hospital swore that not less than 50 bodies were transferred to two hospitals in the state for medication.

“I was passing through the area when I heard a loud explosion and gunshots inside the church,” he claimed.

“We were about to round off the service. I had even asked people to start leaving when we started hearing gunshots from different angles.

We hid 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”, came Abayomi’s description of the attack, with sorrow in his voice.

Thus, it is lucid that both the Church and the State Government clashed on the exact numbers of those who went away with the unexpected explosion. 

A bishop of the Church, Mr. Jude Arogundade, put the score at 38, but the State Government’s account differed, placing the number at 22.

Unfortunately, as Mr. Ogunmolasuyi Oluwole (a renowned lawmaker for the state) told the press when he paid a condolence visit to the scene, children were among the scores for death.

Abayomi and other priests are safe 

It should be stressed that the church denied earlier reports that the priest had been abducted; actually, it is this priest who described how they were locked up for about 20 minutes. 

As seen in a statement issued by the Director of Social Communications of the church, Rev Augustine Ikwu, and made available to only Nigerian journalists, the church said the online media over the whereabouts of Father Abayomi was untrue.

“It is Pentecost Sunday, a time every Catholic is expected to be in church to commemorate the solemnity,” part of the statement read.

“It is sad to say that while the Holy Mass was going on, men of unknown origin wielding guns attacked St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Many are feared dead, many others injured, and the church violated. 

The identity of the perpetrators remains unknown and the situation has devastated the community. Meanwhile, all the priests in the parish are safe and none was kidnapped, as the social media has it. 

The Bishop of the Diocese is also with them at this trying time,” the Director’s statement concluded.

Inside View of St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo. Photo Credit: Vanguard News Nigeria.

As of June 12, does it hold in Owo?

Before the ugly occurrence, June 12 marks Nigeria’s democracy day, in which the military handed over power to an elected civilian government in 1999, marking the beginning of the longest continuous civilian rule since Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule in 1960. 

It is a tradition that has been held annually, beginning in the year 2000.

June 12 was formerly known as Abiola Day, celebrated in Lagos, Nigeria and some southwestern states of Nigeria.

But in Ondo State this year, Governor Akeredolu canceled the celebration in honor of the victims of the melancholic attack.

Mr. Akeredolu gave the order in a press release, by his spokesman, Richard Olatunde, in Akure on Saturday. 

Earlier on Monday, the government had directed that flags in the state be flown at half-mast for seven days in honor of the victims of the terror attack.

“The cancellation is to enable the entire people of Ondo State to mourn their loved ones who lost their lives in the horrific attack,” the Governor explained.

Angry reactions pour in

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, urged the Buhari-led administration to bring the perpetrators to justice, hailing the Governor’s pledge that he would make sure the criminals pay.

The comments followed 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 in Akure to commiserate with him over the incident.

Pope Francis in Rome said he was deeply saddened to learn of the horrific attack at Saint Francis church in Owo in the country.

 “Pray together for all those affected by this act of unspeakable violence and for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence,” he reacted.

The Army General of the Yoruba people, Iba Gani Adams, commented that the violent attack could threaten Nigeria’s foundation and existence.

Previous articleWhy “Starting High School: Form One Guide” is a good book
Next articleAMIU graduates to alleviate health challenges in Africa
Mr. Taoheed is a Nigerian Correspondent for The Scholar Media Africa. He is an Investigative Journalist living in the Northeast area of Nigeria. He studies Law at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto State. His contact:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.