The victims of the Owo Massacre that went down at the St Francis Catholic church, Owo Ondo state, were buried on Friday in the Emure community amidst tears of friends and family members.
Not less than 40 worshippers were reportedly killed including four children who were reportedly killed in the church premises after the Sunday mass by the gun men.
The gunmen were said to have operated for thirty minutes without any obstruction from any security agent.
The Owo Massacre mass funeral was held at the Mydas Resort and Hotel, Owo.
The Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, who expressed his regret that the government failed in its duty to protect the lives of the victims, because the attackers had backers was present at the event.
Speaking at the event The governor, said he lacked the words to describe the massacre, vowed that evil would not prevail over the state.
“We have failed to defend these people. Not because we have not tried, but because these forces on the other side are evil and they have support. They will not triumph over us forever.
When I see the sea of heads here it speaks volumes. What has happened to us in Owo, in Ondo State is indescribable. A lot of words are used to qualify it – dastardly, horrendous – but I still believe there are words to use to describe it but I’m still short of those words.
“We have just 22 (deceased) in this hall. A few of them have been buried because the relatives couldn’t wait till today. But as at the last count, these animals came to the church and murdered 40 people,” Akeredolu said.
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Jude Arogundade, expressed bitterness over the attack, saying the incident underscored the need for state police.
He asked, “Why do the people of this country need to beg for state police, despite the endless attacks and killings?”
The cleric commended the governor for designating a memorial park in honor of the victims, stressing that the killers had blood on their hands.
The Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, who was also at the funeral mass, called on Christians in the country to remain strong in the face of growing attacks.
He said, “We remain hopeful about the future of our country which is in the hands of God.
Where we are now is not Nigeria; we don’t recognise our country any longer but again we have nowhere to turn to except to look up to God. We are prayerfully hoping for the power of God more than any person can talk about. We call on our people to remain strong.”
The families of the victims blame the government for not taking security of lives and property seriously.
A man identified as Mr Nwani Christopher, who lost his brother and niece to the incident , said it is a serious blow to the family.
He said, “I lost somebody who is very dear to me, a senior brother with his daughter, a promising child that we were hoping would grow to be a person the family will depend on. It was a tragic event on June 5 that somebody went to church and never came back.
“What I want to use this opportunity to say is, let the government decide if this country can still accommodate all of us because despite their sermon of unity in diversity, I’ve not seen that one Nigeria. Why are all these things happening? It seems the people at the top are intentionally keeping silent. Are they benefiting from all these?”
Another mourner, Mrs Helen Ifeanyi, who said she lost a brother-in-law, appealed for more effective security.
She said, “Government should provide security at the state level. If there was security on that day, the damage would not be this much. They (security agents) would have stopped them (the gunmen) but on that day, they just had a field day and they went scot-free. We are seriously devastated.”
The church Owo Massacre took place on the 5th of June 2022 by unknown gunmen who were said to have started shooting from outside the church premises. Many were left to perish in their own blood.
A little girl who was said to have come to spend some time with grandma was also a victim of the incident. So many children too were affected by the attack.
On the day of the event, some media houses said it was a fire explosion. Until videos circulate the internet confirming it was a massacre.
Protest has been ongoing since the 5th of June by traders, shops and the markets are still shot down and the shop owners and market women took to the street to protest and also visited shrines to expose those behind the killing in the peaceful state.