The peace in Owo town, Ondo State, was disturbed last Sunday as some gunmen invaded St. Francis Catholic Church Owo and launched a massive attack on its innocent worshippers.
A high chief in Owo, Alhaji Abimbola Omoloja, said “Owo means the place of honour. We honour ourselves and we also honour visitors, we accept people into our folds. The population of none natives is more than that of the natives. We have Ebiras, Kabbas, Kwales, Ibos, Hausas and people from other tribes. We have all these people and we have been living together peacefully. Hausas, Ibos and Ebiras have been installed as chiefs in Owo.”
“It was a bad Sunday for this town. Immediately after the incident, we were invited to the palace by his royal majesty. When we got there, we saw the gravity of what happened. We will continue to pray that this type of thing would never happen again.”
A civil servant, also one of the victims, Mr Benjamin Asowa, revealed to newsmen from the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, that “The mass just ended with the priest saying ‘go in peace’, and all of a sudden, we heard a gunshot. A young boy who sells sweets by the Church gate had been shot. People started running helter-skelter. Then, there was an explosion, in fact it was difficult to remember. About four or five of them started shooting at us. I saw a small boy looking for his parents, he was killed. They didn’t spare anybody. Suddenly, a bullet hit me in the leg, all the people around me were dead. They were all young boys. My wife is also on admissions as she was affected by the explosion. The way they carried out that operation, it was like they were trained for it and their mission was to wipe out everybody. Some strange people have taken over, we don’t understand what is happening anymore.”
He said that the government should take security matters seriously.
Mr Ojowa Clement, who sighted the bandits when they got to the Church, revealed that they did not know that the gunmen were up to something.
According to him, “I was sitting outside the house with my wife and other people when they trekked from that path (pointing to a narrow path close to the Church). They came on foot and were carrying sacks. They even stopped at a point to buy roasted corn. We didn’t pay them any attention until they got to the front of the Church and approached the driver of a Golf car and asked for his car key. When he resisted, they brought out a gun and the man cooperated and ran away. By this time, a small boy selling sweet was walking away; they called him back and shot him dead.
“At this point, we all ran inside and hid. They even shot at our house (pointing to bullet holes in the building) but none of us was affected. After about twenty minutes, the gunshot stopped and then people were wailing and crying. I have been sick since then because I have never witnessed this type of thing.”