The Director of Social Communication of the Diocese of Ondo, Rev. Fr. Augustine Ikwu said the forty victims of terrorists attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, will be buried on Friday.
Rev. Fr. Augustine Ikwu said that the mass burial would be conducted at the new cemetery at Emure Road, Owo.
Recall that terrorists had invaded the St. Francis Church, Owo, Ondo State on June 5, 2022 and shot 40 worshippers dead during mass.
The dastard mass shooting drew condemnation from Nigerians and nations across the world.
Governors of Southwest states have declared three days mourning over the killing at Owo Church, Ondo State.
The Federal Government had said the attack bore a resemblance to that of the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP).
However, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, said that the claim is speculative.
This came as scores of youths and elderly people, under the auspices of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, in the South-West, protested against killings, kidnappings, rape and destruction of property in the region by suspected armed bandits.
Governor Fayemi’s statement came days after Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State rejected the same claim by the Federal Government.
But, speaking on a Channels Television programme, Fayemi said the claim by the Federal Government is ‘purely speculative’.
The governor said he has not seen any evidence that substantially links the terror group to the attack.
He said: “As far as I’m concerned, the statement about ISWAP or Boko Haram or whatever other institutions are responsible for this is purely speculative at this stage.
“I haven’t seen any evidence that concretely puts this in the corner of any of these rogue elements.
“And really, at this stage, it doesn’t matter. They have committed a heinous crime and demonstrated the maximum capacity to cause damage to our people. Our duty is to ensure that this does not occur again and we go after elements of this nature, whichever organisation they represent.”
Meanwhile, scores of demonstrators, who assembled at the popular ancient Mapo, marched through Bere-Oje-Gate, Bus Stop, and Government House among other areas within Ibadan metropolis, said what happened in Owo, Ondo State was an affront on the Yoruba race.
The protesters said that similar killings and maiming which had happened in many parts of Yorubaland must stop henceforth.
A 75-year-old man, Dr Alabi Arogunmasa, who was among the protesters, said the youths and the elderly must be prepared to defend themselves and their land.
Secretary-General, Coalition of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, Chief Steve Abioye, while addressing residents, urged Yoruba people to wake up and protect themselves from being slaughtered daily by bandits.
Abioye said:”Our people should wake up, they are being killed every day. Yoruba land has never been conquered and that is why we are calling on our people to defend themselves.”
Also speaking, the Coordinator of the group, Johnson Ajilore, said Yorubaland had been under siege and the people must be courageous enough and determined not to allow them to be killed any longer.
Ajilore said: “People went to church to worship and some terrorists went there and killed them, it happened in Igangan, they have killed many and kidnapped them in other towns and villages in the South-West.
”Is this how we are going to continue living in fear in our land? Our people must rise and the time is now.”
Meanwhile, The Neo Black Movement of Africa, NBM, donated N2 million to the victims of the June 5th terror attack.
National President of NBM, Olorogun Ese Kakor, said this when he visited the palace of the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye and the scene of the attack.
Kakor, who sympathised with the victims, said: “It was unimaginable that gunmen could kill people inside the sanctuary of God.
“We came to sympathise with the church on this attack. We came to share in their grief and sympathize with the people of Owo.
“Intelligence matters a lot. Security agents have to up their game. It is getting worse. Nigerians have to report suspicious movement around them.
“NBM has nothing to do with BlackAxe confraternity. We are a humanitarian organisation.”
In his remarks, Oba Ogunoye said it was unfortunate that terrorists defiled the house of God and attempted to shatter the peace enjoyed in Owo.
The monarch said: “It is an unfortunate incident that we never expected.
“Nigeria has been experiencing terrorist attacks but we were concerned that this incident could come to our area. We are experiencing it now.
“We are all challenged by what happened. They have turned this land into a land of violence.
“Our humanity is challenged. The Federal Government should focus on protecting lives and property. We should get prepared to defend ourselves. The perpetrators are looking for soft spots. We must protect ourselves. Nobody has the right to take life.
Meanwhile, the Olubaka and Paramount Ruler of Oka Akoko, Oba Yusuf Adeleye, has commiserated with the Catholic Bishop of Ondo, Dr Jude Arogundade on the unfortunate incident which occurred at Owo last week.
Oba Adeleye said: ”That our son is the head of the Catholic Church in Ondo State makes it a joint pain to all of us. The best way to prove this is to stand firm with our son and the Church against the agents of death at this point.”
Responding, Bishop Arogundade, said: “It has been an extremely traumatic experience but the Lord is always there to hold His Church.”