Joy as Owo Catholic church reopens after terror attack
Catholic faithful in Owo, Owo local government area of Ondo State and environs were full of joy when the St. Francis Catholic Church in the locality reopened for worshippers 10 months after it was attacked by terrorists.
Heavily armed terrorists on June 5, 2022, attacked the church with explosives killing over 40 persons and injuring 70 others.
There was tight security as police, military operatives, hunters, and the security arm of the church code named Men of Order and Discipline (MOD) were drafted to strategic places to secure the locality.
Bishop of Ondo Catholic Diocese, Revd Father Jude Arogundade presided over the reopening of the church as part of activities to mark Easter Sunday.
The church was repainted and fitted with modern furniture with many worshippers in attendance.
Bishop Arogundade congratulated the Catholic faithful for being alive to witness the reopening of the church.
Arogundade urged them to use the occasion to pray for the souls of the dead ones as well ad commiserated with their families.
He said the June 5th attack would go down in the history of Yorubaland as the worst that could happen to the church.
The Ondo Bishop insisted that the attack could never intimidate the church and its members.
He urged the congregation to use the resurrection of Jesus Christ in relation to the terror attack to renew their faith in God.
Bishop Arogundade also faulted the government at all levels for failing to secure lives and property.
He said: “We have to call ourselves back to the greater understanding of what is happening in our society today. I have never seen a nation so comfortable watching the killings of its citizens on daily basis in hundreds and nothing has been done for the past 15 years.
“It doesn’t happen in other places I don’t know why the Govt. refuses to apologize to the citizens they failed. A government that failed or cannot protect its citizens is not worthy to be called a government.
“I wish to say this without fear of anyone that the government of this country has failed us and you pressmen should record me very well, they have failed in the area of protecting the lives and properties of the people.
“Almost on daily basis we hear people being killed in their tens and hundreds, many people have even forgotten what happened in this church ten years ago because many more have happened without the world paying attention.
“The government must wake up and show strength and courage and make sure those who carried out the evil attack that took place in this church and the evil going around our country are brought to book and punished accordingly.
The Bishop who wondered why no one has ever been sentenced for committing heinous crimes troubling the country urged the perpetrators to allow peace to reign.
He further urged the government to show strength and courage by ensuring justice for victims. of terror attacks across the country.
Survivors of the attack who were present during the service said they were left with permanent scars and disabilities.
A double amputee, Mrs. Josephine Ejelonu, whose legs were amputated, said she was happy for remaining alive.
Ejelonu said she spent several months in the hospital.
Recalling what happened during the attack, she said the attackers threw two hand grenades at the place she was hiding behind corpses.
She said she managed to escape but found out that the flesh of her legs have been skinned off leaving the bones showing.
Another survivor, Mrs. Christianah Oladele, who was shot in the back, said the attack would not deter her from worshipping God.
Chairman, Akoko Southwest Local Government of Ondo State, Mr. Augustine Oloruntogbe, described the attack as the worst crime against humanity.
In August 2022, the military said it has arrested four of the suspects linked to the attack on St Francis Catholic Church.
It named the suspects to include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa, and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.
Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza was named as the mastermind of the terror attack on the Owo Catholic Church.