Governor of Ondo State,Mr. Akeredolu with Chairman,Nigeria Governors Forum, Mr.Fayemi during a visit to victims of the Catholic Church attack in Owo.

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – The Northern Governors Forum says it is “infuriated” over the attack on worshippers at the St. Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State which left many dead and others injured.

This is even as the Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA; the TEKAN-ECWA Bloc of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN and the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria say they received with great shock, pain, and sorrow, the sad news of the gruesome attack in the Church.

Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong in a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Makut Macham said “the Forum condemns the unprovoked attack on the Church and its worshippers which is a clear attempt by criminals to instigate religious hatred and inflame passions among Nigerians.”

While commiserating with the survivors, families of victims, the Catholic Church, and the Christian body in Nigeria, Lalong said the Northern Governors want security agencies to do all that is possible to apprehend those behind the sacrilege, their sponsors, and collaborators.

He stressed “This will not only ensure that justice is served but ensure a clear message is also sent to criminals who are bent on causing chaos in the country,” adding, “The Northern Governors are in solidarity with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the Government of Ondo State, assuring of their prayers and support at this very sober moment.”

However, the ECWA President and Head, of the TEKAN-ECWA bloc of CAN, Rev. Stephen Panya described the attack on the Church as “pure devilish wickedness and evil.”

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His words, “This attack is a well-calculated assault on the peace-loving people of the Owo Kingdom and the entire Christendom in Nigeria. It is barbaric, vile, wicked, Satanic, and a deliberate action to wipe out Christianity in the country.

“That the attack was carried out on Pentecost Sunday, the generally acknowledged ‘birthday’ of the Church, clearly shows it is a continuation of the relentless but futile effort of the devil and his agents to exterminate the Church in Nigeria.

“We, therefore, join all people of good conscience in Nigeria and around the world, to condemn this dastardly attack on innocent citizens in its entirety and the strongest terms.”

He prayed for the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and the healing and restoration of all the injured and the Church of God in Nigeria, maintaining, “The greatest honor that can be done to the victims of this attack is to get to the root of the matter and bring the perpetrators to justice no matter who they are and where they come from.”

Meanwhile, the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria has asked that the federal government stop paying lip service to the issue of insecurity and condemning acts of violence against citizens but rather deal decisively with criminal elements so that they are not forced to take laws into their hands in self-defense.

Addressing journalists On Monday in Jos, the National President, Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria, Sir Henry Yunkwap in the company of the National President, Catholic Women Organization, CWO, Dame Mary Gonsum, and other officials of the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos, the body sympathize with the people of Ondo Diocese and prayed for the quick recovery to the injured.

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According to Yunkwap, “It is very important that I address you this moment considering the happenings in our country as regards insecurity. We are aware that yesterday (Sunday), more than 50 parishioners of St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State were killed by gunmen suspected to be bandits. I find it difficult to address my people knowing full well that we are yet to recover from the recent murder of our daughter and friend, the late Deborah Samuel by some heartless religious extremists in Sokoto State…”

“As believers in Christ Jesus, we are called to be peace-loving people and to preach it with words and actions but that does not mean we should not be sensitive to happenings around us and take action when necessary. To our leaders and all those who feel they have a monopoly on violence to know that every life is sacred and nobody has the right to take it in whatever way be it under the guise of religion, ethnic or political differences.”

“The crime committed by those killed were just two; one, they were Christians, and secondly, they were in the Church on Sunday, worshiping God. As a Christian group and direct mourners of this sad incident, we do not want to only condemn this barbaric act but use this medium to let the government know that we have taken enough of this killing of our people and we now find it very difficult to chew what they have forcefully put in our mouth. The only option left is to throw it out.”

“For any government who cannot provide security for her people, it is indirectly telling them to defend themselves by whatever means they can… What the victims want from the government for their souls to rest in peace is the assurance that their killers will be arrested and dealt with according to the laws of the land.”