Owo killing: Afenifere warns against siege on south-west

...calls for three-day mourning

Afenifere, the pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, has described the attack on a Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State this Sunday morning as a terrorism act against the south western part of Nigeria bordering on a declaration of war!

The body then called on all the six governors in the South West of Nigeria to declare three solid days of mourning for the victims of Owo carnage.

Reports have it that some gunmen on Sunday morning attacked St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, headquaters of Owo Local Government Area during church service. Owo is the hometown of Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo State. It was gathered that no fewer than 50 corpses have been moved out of the church with many casualties lying at the Federal Medical Center, Owo, for medical attention.

A release signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi, Afenifere recalled that it was in this same vicinity, Owo, that Olufunke, daughter of its Leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, was killed by Fulani bandits in 2019 just as many other acts bordering on terrorism got daily reported in Ondo State and other parts of Yorubaland.

“The attack with sophisticated weapons where people gathered to worship is one of the most heinous acts that could ever be committed especially since we are not in a state of war. Going by the extent of the damage and the systematic way that the massacre-like action was carried out, it was clear that the act was planned far ahead with the seeming imprimatur of trained gunmen.”

Reports also have it that two people were killed and ten abducted by terrorists in Ekiti local government of Kwara State this same Sunday morning.

Afenifere maintained that the carnage in Owo and atrocity in Kwara etc occurred because of the kid-glove manner with which the federal government and its agencies in charge of security have handled similar occurrences in other parts of the country in the recent past.

The release emphasized that what is happening now is an attestation of the warnings given months ago by the group’s acting Leader, Ayo Adebanjo, that Yorubaland has been surrounded by armed militia.

Read also: Ondo Massacre in Pictures

Ajayi quoted Adebanjo as challenging the federal government to act decisively on this issue of insecurity if it is not behind it.

“With what happened in Owo, the Yorubas are being provoked into war because they know that the land had been infiltrated and surrounded by armed militias” Ajayi quoted Pa Adebanjo as saying. He was however quick to add that any attempt to unleash any mayhem in Yorubaland would be resisted. Oodualand was never conquered. It will not be conquered now. He then warned those who may be nursing such a thought to perish it immediately and toe the line of peace and harmonious co-habitation.

The atrocity in Nigeria is now so bad that Atrocity Alert in its issue No 295 of April 6, 2022, ranked Nigeria with Ukraine and Venezuela where people’s lives are at a very high risk. The publication by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect weekly ‘highlights countries where populations are at risk of, or are enduring, mass atrocity crimes.’ In its earlier issue No 290, it grouped Nigeria with Myamar (Burma) and again Ukraine. For a country that is not officially at war and is not facing natural calamities, this ranking is not flattering at all!

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the deteriorating security situation in Nigeria has resulted in a humanitarian emergency, with more than 8.4 million people requiring urgent assistance. The body in its Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project added that armed bandit groups killed more than 2,600 civilians in 2021, an increase of over 250 percent of the 2020 figure.

While hosting the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, during his two-day official visit to Nigeria on May 3, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari hinted that through the myriad security ‘strategies’ of his government, at least 37,000 Boko Haram fighters have been encouraged to surrender and had been rehabilitated for eventual reintegration.

Between that time and now, the acts of terrorism that have taken place in different parts of the country seem to suggest that many of those that government ‘rehabilitated and reintegrated’ got strengthened somehow and returned to join groups carrying out more dastardly acts.

“Much as we tried to resist the temptation, it is a bit difficult not to read some political meanings to the carnage in Owo. It is on record for instance, that Governor Akeredolu is in the frontline of the vanguard insisting that Presidency must come to the Southern part of the country come 2023. And from all indications, this agitation is about to bear fruit. He, Akeredolu, is also uncompromising in his refusal to let herders and bandits take over Ondo State, or any part of Yorubaland from the indigenes. The timing and contour of the attack made it difficult not to argue that the Owo carnage was more than ordinary.”

Afenifere spokesman stated that Nigerians and well-meaning people across the world are wondering why the government and security agencies that could hunt such individuals like Gana, the Tivman in Benue, arrest Nnamdi Kanu, and invade Sunday Igboho’s house with fatal consequence have found it difficult to tame those making life miserable for Nigerians and those trying to take over indigenous lands by force.

Afenifere concluded by calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to act decisively now so that the little strands tying Nigeria together will not snap.

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