Adetunji Henry, 15, one of the victims of the attack by gunmen during Pentecost Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church, receives treatment at the Federal Medical Centre in Owo, Nigeria, June 6, 2022. Reports said at least 50 people were killed in the attack. Credit: CNS photo/Temilade Adelaja, Reuters

Over 70 people were killed and/or injured after gunmen shot at worshippers at a Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State on Sunday, June 5, and detonated explosives during a Pentecost Mass.

The terrorists attacked the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo at about 9 a.m., church leaders and residents told local media in text messages shortly after the attack.

Police said the assailants approached the church during the Mass and started shooting while others, numbering about four, shot directly at worshippers.

A priest at the church, Andrew Abayomi, said that as the worship service was coming to an end, the terrorists threw explosive devices and shot at the congregation.

“Some of us hid inside the church as they shot randomly at us. This lasted for about 20 minutes before they retreated.”

Circulated videos showed bloody images of men, women, and children laying out among the pews.

The Associated Press reported that one kidnapping victim was the presiding priest. Pope Francis was aware, stated the Vatican, and is said they are praying.

“The massacre in the Roman Catholic church was no doubt a targeted attack by the marauding Fulani herdsmen, who have been terrorizing the entire west African region in the past few years with the determined intention to Islamize the region,” said Ikenna Ellis Ezenekwe, a USA-born Nigerian activist and journalist who is the publisher of
Ezenekwe told the Amsterdam News: “The Nigerian government under the Buhari administration has shown actions that indicate or suggest that they may be encouraging the jihad-like activities of these terrorists. Since the arrival of Buhari to the seat of power, the northern borders of Nigeria were opened up for the terrorists to flood Nigeria from Niger Republic, Chad, Mali, and other Muslim republics that surround the northern boundaries of Nigeria. In the last seven years, the activities of these herdsmen have caused over 2,000 deaths, of which none has been solved or any of the culprits arrested. It goes to expose the injustices suffered by non-Muslims in Nigeria.”

Some published reports said that Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year at 4,650 (from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021), up from 3,530 the previous reporting period. The West African nation’s 470 attacks on churches trailed only China’s tally.

Meanwhile, the Ondo governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said it was a “black Sunday” in Owo.

“Our hearts are heavy. Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people,” said Akeredolu in a press statement. “This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state. … I am shocked to say the least.

“Nevertheless, we shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay,” said the governor. “We shall never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolve to rid our state of criminals.”

Odili Obi told the Amsterdam News from London, that he like Nigerians the world over, is stunned by “the mass killings of over 50 people and over 100 injured people in Owo Ondo State in Nigeria, who got up on Sunday morning to attend church following a terrorist attack, marks another dark day in the country. Citizens all over the country are not safe, and the government whose responsibility is to secure lives and properties have failed its people. Nigeria has become a country where life is cheap, and all the politicians are thinking about are the next elections in 2023. My heart goes out to the families of the deceased and may their souls rest in peace.”

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, condemned the atrocity. “No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome light,” Buhari said. “Nigeria will eventually win.”

Nigeria is long seen by colonizing nations and their cohorts to be the lynchpin to a stable, secure and resisting continent. Keen observers have long noted that destabilizing Africa’s powerful, and most popular nation is the only way they can successfully recolonize the continent.

“I don tire,” a New Jersey-based businessman choosing the moniker Frustrated Nigerian, told the Amsterdam News. “The current government has abandoned any pretense about executing its primary responsibility to its citizens. Peace, security, safety, well-being, and enabling environment for livelihood to its citizens, have all been abandoned. “

Straight to the point Twitter user Colin Udoh wrote on social media, “We don’t want to hear any stupid platitudes about thoughts and prayers and saddened or whatever else. We want you to get off your useless behinds and stop these killings. Find murderers, prosecute them, hang them publicly or shoot them by firing squad! We don’t care, just do it!”

“How do we get here?” asked Lookman Oluwafemi Afolayan, owner of Nigerian restaurant Bukanewyork in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. “Nigeria, a beautiful, great country and I must say peaceful too. Our problem used to be corrupt politicians, but we the people decided long ago to find our own part and build us without the help from no government, and at it we are very good. That’s why we excel anywhere we go in the world,” said Afolayan.

“But now our leaders have moved their post forward. They don’t just steal money anymore; they turn to dangerous criminals. The army that used to be a respected institution, is now worse than the police.
“How can these ragtag criminals overrun our beautiful country with so few much consequences? They got help from the top. It’s time for every state in the union to have their own local control security stuff. The protection of their citizens should be their first priority, and seriously co-signed.”

Afolayan concluded, “We are at war people, we must join hands to defend our Motherland from the north to the south, not one inch of Nigeria should be given to these bastards. May God be with the family of those who are gone and may God almighty protect us all. God bless my wonderful home—Nigeria.”

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