FG Accuses ISWAP Of Being Behind Owo Church Attack



The Federal Government, Thursday, identified the Islamic State, West African Province (ISWAP) as being responsible for the attack at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State that led to the death of about 40 persons last Sunday.

 Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior stated this at a press briefing he held after the National Security Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

He said security agencies were already on the trail of the culprits.

While noting that their imprints have been ascertained in the attack, he, however, said the authorities have so far made no arrests.

He however dismissed the insinuations of ethnic-religious connection in the attack, affirming that the group’s activity has nothing to do with Islam. He also said there was no ethnic agenda in the attack, urging Nigerians to unite and defeat terrorism in the country.

The minister added that the Council expressed concern about killings in the name of blasphemy and consequently directed security agencies to go after perpetrators of the separate incidents in Sokoto State and Abuja recently.

  According to him, the motive of the terror group is to pitch Nigerians against one another and make it appear as ethno-religious war.

“The Council is concerned about the violent attack in Owo and have been able to locate the perpetrators of that horrendous attack. From all indications, we are zeroing in on ISWAP.

“It is not an ethno-religious thing, the animals in ISWAP, wanting attention and recognition, are suspected to have launched that attack. We have directed all the agencies concerned to go after them and bring them to justice,” he said.

Commenting on the recent kidnap and release of the Methodist Church Prelate, Samuel Kanu-Uche, the Inspector General of Police said no arrest had been made, but added that the incident was being investigated by the authorities.

“We have leads; we have some issues we are still following through on how the ransom was collected and how the negotiations were done. We have information to that effect and we’re getting into the real aspect of arresting the suspects.”

 Meanwhile, the Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide has said the position of the group that foreign terrorists of Fulani extraction have surrounded Yorubaland is now vindicated by Federal Government’s declaration that the massacre of worshippers in Owo was carried out by ISWAP.

Reacting in a statement, Prof. Banji Akintoye, leader of Ilana Omo Oodua, which is the umbrella body for Yoruba self-determination groups, said its position that Yorubaland had been surrounded by terrorists has been vindicated.

The group urged Governor Rotimi Akeredolu not to be weary but tasked him to redouble his efforts to rid the state of criminal herdsmen terrorising his people.

“We, therefore, reinstate our earlier position that the government of Ondo should declare an emergency on the activities of herdsmen in the state. All herdsmen operating in Ondo should be profiled. Those in the bush must be flushed out.”

The United States of America (USA) has joined other countries to send message of condolence to the governor Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), over Sunday’s attack.

In a letter to Akeredolu, dated June 7, and signed by the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. extended its heartfelt condolences to the people of Ondo and the Owo community.

“On behalf of the United States and the staff of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to you, Ondo State, and the Owo community for the horrific event and lives lost at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church on Sunday.

“This tragedy saddens us deeply and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families during this difficult time.

“The United States condemns this attack in the strongest terms, and we are concerned with the growing pattern of violence that afflicts communities across Nigeria. We remain steadfast in our efforts to support Nigeria in enhancing civilian security throughout the country.”

Also, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, has also lauded Akeredolu for his giant strides on security, describing him as a true son of the soil. Akeredolu, yesterday, received the Afenifere delegation, who paid a condolence visit to his office in Alagabaka, Akure, the Ondo State capital. It also donated N1.5 million to the church and victims of the attack.


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