Owo Terror Attack: A New Phase Of Insecurity Begins In Nigeria


Owo Terror Attack: A New Phase Of Insecurity Begins In Nigeria

The terror attack on Sunday at St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, in South-West Nigeria, opened a new chapter in Nigeria's bleak security situation. Terrorists strategically chose a church and a location in southern Nigeria to demonstrate that their reach extended beyond the North, as previously assumed.

Terror attacks on churches, mosques, schools, police stations, military formations, and government agencies have occurred primarily in the North since 2009, when the Islamic terror group Boko Haram adopted suicide bombing as a tactic.

With the Owo massacre, which reportedly killed dozens of worshippers (estimated at 30 to 70), worship centers across Nigeria will be uneasy. Shopping malls, schools, markets, public buses, bus stops, and other gathering places will be considered potential targets.

According to reports, the unidentified attackers entered the church as the service was ending, detonated bombs, causing panic, and then began to mow down worshippers as they burst out of the church in an attempt to flee. Among those killed were many children, as well as women and men.

Adeyemi Olayemi, the legislator representing the Owo constituency in the Ondo State House of Assembly, told CNN on Sunday, not long after the incident occurred, that at least 28 people were killed. However, some of the injured who were taken to the hospital died later. According to Olayemi, the attackers arrived on motorcycles and began shooting indiscriminately, killing a large number of people.

When THISDAY visited the church, it discovered that the gunmen had used dynamites to destroy the church's altar. The impact of the explosives destroyed a portion of the altar's POP. The blood of the victims was smeared on the church floor. Ikechukwu Eze, an eyewitness, told THISDAY that the gunmen numbered up to ten, and that when security officers arrived at the scene, the angry crowd chased them away.

Throughout Sunday and the majority of Monday, no group claimed responsibility for the attack or provided a reason for carrying it out. But what could possibly justify such a heinous attack?

It appears that those carrying out these attacks try to break whatever record they have set each time. On March 26, some gunmen breached security at Kaduna International Airport in North-West Nigeria, killing one person. Two days later, they attacked a train traveling between Kaduna and Abuja, Nigeria's capital, killing some passengers and kidnapping many more. Those who paid the massive ransoms were promptly released, while others remain in their custody more than a month later.

Concerning ransom, the Most Rev. Samuel Kanu-Uche, Prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, recounted his kidnapping experience last week, claiming that the kidnappers demanded a ransom of N100 million. They were threatened with death if the money was not paid quickly. According to the minister, their kidnappers boasted that they would use the ransom to buy weapons and prepare to take on any group.

An explosion occurred during the annual Echane festival in the Idoji area of Okene, Kogi State, on Thursday, killing two people and injuring many more. Kogi State is located in Nigeria's North-Central region, but it shares borders with Ondo State. According to reports, the explosion happened near the Idoji market in the town, on Thursday evening.

The Islamic State in West Africa Province claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday, claiming that 20 people were killed rather than the two confirmed by police. The police said they were awaiting the results of their anti-bomb unit's investigation to determine what type of device caused the explosion.

Giving an update on recent attacks in Kogi State, an online newspaper, TheCable, reported that on April 23, gunmen attacked a police station in the state's Adavi LGA, killing three police officers. ISWAP claimed responsibility for the attack a few days later.

On May 11, an explosion occurred at a bar in the Lewu Junction area of Kabba town, Kogi. Two weeks later, another explosion occurred at a bar in Kabba town, Kabbah-Bunu LGA.

Ondo State has also been at the forefront of the anti-open grazing campaign. On numerous occasions, the Ondo State Security Network Agency, codenamed Amotekun, has seized the heads of cattle grazing in the open and forced their owners to pay a fine in order to reclaim them. This elicited condemnation from various herdsmen's groups, who saw the ban on open grazing and arrest as victimization.

In response to the attack on St Francis Church in Owo, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who is from Owo, said, "It is a black Sunday in Owo." Our hearts are burdened. The enemies of the people have attacked our peace and tranquillity. This is a personal tragedy, an attack on our beloved state... I had to cut short my party's national assignment in Abuja to go to Owo right away. This is a surprising development. To say the least, I am stunned.

"In our determination to rid our state of criminals, we will never yield to the machinations of heartless elements." I sympathize with my people in Owo, especially the families of those who were killed in this heinous and tragic attack. I express my condolences to Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye, Olowo of Owo, and the Catholic Church."

In a statement issued by his special adviser on media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the President of Nigeria, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), said that "only fiends from the nether region could have conceived and carried out such dastardly act." "No matter what, this country will never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never triumph over light," he added. Nigeria will triumph in the end."

The people's frustration and helplessness was evident in their reactions to security operatives who arrived at the scene of the attack. By chasing them away, the people expressed their dissatisfaction with the nation's ineffectiveness in protecting them from similar attacks across the country. According to reports, the gunmen operated for 20 to 30 minutes without any response from security personnel.

The perpetrators of the attack may have also intended to incite an inter-ethnic conflict. Both the state and federal governments should take steps to prevent this from happening.

Nigeria has repeatedly failed its citizens. With one year left in his second four-year term, it is hoped that Buhari will finally take steps to stop sending out condolence messages every week or fortnight. He is a president, not a mortician.

Ondo State Terror Attack

by Azuka Onwuka

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