By Emmanuel OGBECHE
Condemnations have continued to trail the killings of worshippers at St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owaluwa street, Owo, Ondo state, on Sunday by gunmen.
Reacting to the development, President Muhammadu Buhari said, “No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome light. Nigeria will eventually win.”
In a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, the president said, “only fiends from the nether region could have conceived and carried out such dastardly act, adding that eternal sorrow awaits them both on earth here, and ultimately in the hereafter.”
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who had to cut short his party’s national convention duties in Abuja, described the attack as “vile and satanic”, saying it was a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.
“It is a black Sunday in Owo. Our hearts are heavy. Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people. This is a personal loss, an attack on our dear state. I have spoken to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, who is presently on his way to Owo. Similarly, I have had to cut short my party’s national assignment in Abuja and visit Owo immediately.
“This is an unexpected development. I am shocked to say the least. Nevertheless, we shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay. We shall never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolves to rid our state of criminals.”
The governor urged the “people to remain calm and vigilant. Do not take laws into your hands. I have spoken to the heads of the security agencies. I have equally been assured that security operatives would be deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.” Akeredolu said.
Own his part, Vice President Yomi Osinbajo, a presidential aspirant of the APC, stated; “I join President Muhammadu Buhari to condemn in strongest terms, the atrocious killing of worshippers Sunday at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo Kingdom, in Ondo State.
“This saddens inexplicably, and I mourn the dead from this very unfortunate event. Also, my thoughts and my prayers goes to the victims and their families, the Catholic Church, and the government of Ondo state.
“We will not cower to the whims of elements who lurk in darkness to unleash inconceivable wickedness on our citizens. We will keep standing against evil and Nigeria will win.”
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, on Twitter, condemned the attack and extended her sympathies to the victims and their families.
She tweeted, “Terrible news today from Owo in Ondo State. I condemn those responsible for this horrific crime. I extend my sympathies to all those affected.”
Recounting their ordeal, Rev Father Andrew Abayomi, one of the priests at St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, Ondo State, in an interview with BBC Yoruba, the cleric said suspected terrorists struck as the day’s service was about to end.
“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.”