President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the heinous killing of worshippers on Sunday at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo Kingdom, in Ondo State.
The President, in a condolence message released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Sunday in Abuja, said only wicked and devilish people could have conceived and carried out such a dastardly act.
According to him, eternal sorrow awaits them both on earth here, and ultimately in the hereafter.
”No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome the light. Nigeria will eventually win,” he said.
Buhari mourned the dead and condoled with their families, the Catholic Church, and the Government of Ondo State.
He charged emergency agencies to swing into action, and bring succor to the wounded.
Governor Oluwarotimi of Ondo State in his reaction said those carrying out attacks such as the one on St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in the state, are foreigners from Mali trained in Libya.
While describing the attack as vile and satanic, Akeredolu promised that the perpetraors would be arrested soon.
.The Governor, who departed Abuja for the state, urged residents to keep calm and not take the laws into their hands.
“What happened here is too tragic. It is the most tragic event. What is happening in America is a child’s play to what has happened here.
“To say the least, it is condemnable. I’m grieved. Let me let you know that we have a duty to protect you.
“Security services also lost about two men. The attack was sudden. How they carried out the attack and entered the church cannot be explained.
“No one thought that such incident could happen in Ondo State not to talk of People.
“Let us not retaliate because we will apprehend them. Don’t take laws into your hands. I want to express my condolences to the families of the victims.
“Security agencies in the state must take all steps necessary because this must not repeat itself.
“On our own part, we must be vigilant. We take responsibility for what has happened.
“Most of those that are carrying out this attacks are foreigners from Mali who were trained in Libya,” he said.
Gunmen suspected to be bandits on Sunday attacked St. Francis Catholic Church in Owaluwa area of Owo, headquarters of Owo Local Government Area of Ondo state, killing over 50 members of the congregation, during the church service, while several others were left injured.
The armed men who invaded the church in Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s country home in Volkswagen Golf 4, struck around 11:15 am at the peak of the service, shooting sporadically into the church while some of them stationed themselves at the entrance of the church to prevent the people from escaping from the church.
An eyewitness explained that the congregation was caught unawares when the hoodlums started shooting, saying people were running to avoid being shot while the gunmen threw dynamites into the church, that exploded on the altar of church
Hee said the church was full brim, adding that no fewer than 500 people were in the church when the gunmen started shooting and no fewer than 50 were killed with several others injured in the attack.
The gunmen were said to have used dynamites to detonate the altar of the church while mass was going on, leaving part of the altar caved in.
Blood stains littered the floor of the church as corpses and the injured were said to have been moved to the Federal Medical Centre, Owo. Some corpses were said to have been deposited at a private hospital.
One of the priests of the church, Rev. Father Andrew Abayomi, explained that the gunmen operated for about 25 minutes, shooting sporadically into the church
We were about to round off service. I had even asked people to start leaving, that was how we started hearing gunshots from different angles.
“We hid inside the church but some people had left when the attack happened. We locked ourselves in the church for 20 minutes. When we heard that they had left, we opened the church and rushed victims to the hospital.”
Lamenting the attack, the Bishop of Ondo Diocese, Bishop Jude Arogundade, who visited the scene of the attack said, “This is madness! All over the world, there is nowhere people will plan to come and kill babies, children, husbands and wives worshipping on a special day, the Pentecost day.
“It’s quite unbelievable that somebody will come and the intention is to kill everybody in that church. Those who were running out were being shot from outside, and those who were inside were being shot.
“They threw dynamites to blow off the altar down to the sanctuary. This kind of desecration can only be done by the evil ones.
“Probably what the world should know is that Nigeria is in war and this kind of war is directed at civilians. I don’t know the point someone is trying to make with this kind of evil but whatever point they intended to make they have not made any point and they have not achieved anything, unfortunately.”