From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Amidst tears and gnashing of teeth, the remains of the 44 victims of the attack on the St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State were on Friday committed to mother earth.
Tears flowed freely on the cheeks of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and many others at the funeral.
Governor Akeredolu and his wife, Betty attended the funeral mass held at the Mydas Resort and Hotel, Owo.
Governor Akeredolu, in tears, said the government failed to protect the victims of the terror attack.
Akeredolu stressed that the forces on the other side are evil, assuring that they will not triumph forever.
“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,” he said.
The governor noted that something must be done in the country, adding that the security architecture of the nation needs rejigging.
“When I see the sea of heads that are 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 am still short of words to describe it.
“We have just 22 bodies 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,” Governor Akeredolu said.
The governor affirmed that 40 persons were killed during the attack on the church on June 5, while over 70 persons were badly injured.
He said out of the 40 people, 18 had been buried by their various families, while the remaining 22 people were being buried by the church.
The Catholic Diocese of Ondo and the state government had organised a mass burial for the victims of the attack on the church and the funeral mass was witnessed by government functionaries, including the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, his wife, Betty, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye and former Governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko among other dignitaries.
Catholic clerics, including Archbishop of Ibadan Archdiocese, Most Rev Leke Abegunrin, Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Leke Badejo and those of Osogbo, Ado-Ekiti, Abeokuta, ijebu-Ode and other dioceses of the church in the South West also graced the occasion.
In his homily, the Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Bishop Leke Badejo said though the victims were dead, they remain safe in the hands of Jesus, their saviour.
He stressed the need for all Christians to embrace self-defence, which he said is allowed in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, as according to him the government can no longer provide the needed security for the citizenry.
He called on the Federal Government to wake up from its slumber.
“Is Boko Haram more powerful than our government? Are bandits and terrorists more powerful than our Federal Government? I don’t think so, but recent events have shown that our government can not secure us again,” he said.
According to him, almost 900 Nigerians were killed in violent attacks in different parts of the country in 2022 alone.
He said the killing was not an isolated one, adding that there is no indication that it would be the last one.
Bishop Badejo, however, urged Christians not to succumb to the threat and challenges against the church by the tragedy of the present time.
The Catholic Bishop of Ondo diocese, Bishop Jude Arogundade said the Ondo State Governor, Mr Akeredolu has not failed but he has shown courage and bravery.
He said the promise given by the government to find the killers was an empty promise, which would not yield any positive result.