From Jimoh Ahmed, Owo
As today marks one year after St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, was gruesomely attacked by terrorists, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will on Saturday commission the memorial park in honour of the victims.
The commissioning is part of the activities to commemorate the tragedy when the terrorists opened fire on the congregation killing 41 innocent worshippers at the church located at Owaluwa, in the town.
The Ondo State Government had promised to commemorate the victims with the building of a memorial park in their honour.
When The Hope visited the church on Sunday, worshippers were busy conducting the mass while the church is wearing a new look as it has been painted along with other buildings in the premises.
Similarly, the church has built another memorial park in the premises as a way of commemorating the gruesome attack.
In the same vein, the memorial park at Oke-Oja in the town built by the state government has been completed while the painting is almost finished.
The terrorists who gained entry into the premises of the church during the early morning mass on June 5, 2022, hurled explosives and opened fire on the worshippers leaving many people dead and injured before fleeing from the scene. This led to the closure of the church.
However, the church was temporarily reopened on Easter Sunday for the Easter service and allowed worshippers to hold their mass.
Speaking on one year commemoration of the massacre, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III, who spoke with our correspondent in a phone chat, described the unfortunate incident as a sad one, which still lingers in the memory of the people of Owo.
Oba Ogunoye said the incident has left an indelible mark and pains on the people of the ancient town.
The Olowo disclosed that Owo as a community is not doing anything to commemorate the day because it’s a sad occurrence.
“We are still carrying the pains with us. The wounds have refused to heal, our hearts are still heavy. It is so painful it happened. So, we are not doing anything but we will keep praying against the incident happening again and also for the repose of the souls who lost their lives in the dastardly attack”.
Oba Ogunoye, however, said that the community is putting up frantic efforts to secure the Kingdom and the people against future occurence.
“We thank God that everything is normal again. People are going about their normal life as expected. The security people are doing well and up to the task”.
“The community, through the assistance of our sons and daughters in diaspora recently donated security vehicles to the Police, Amotekun and other security outfits for security monitoring in the town.”
“We as a people are also cooperating and assisting the security outfits by giving necessary information that can help them in their job”.
Efforts by our reporter to speak with the parish priest was not successful as he was said to be attending a crucial meeting immediately the Sunday mass ended.
Mrs Attah Margaret, a victim of the callous attack, who was in church for Sunday mass, gave God the glory for sparing her life, said she will continue to worship and serve God no matter what.
Mrs Attah who had her two legs amputated as a result of the attack and now on the wheelchair described her experience as not a palatable one but that it will not deter her from coming to church to worship God.
“It is not a palatable experience but a bad one. Anyway, I will continue to serve and worship God”.
“I bless the name of God for sparing my life. I am alive today, so I have come to church to worship God and I will continue to do so until death comes “.
In the same vein, Mr Augustine Ude, another victim of the attack while praying for those who lost their lives during the attack asked God to receive their souls.
He vowed to continue to worship God in as much as he lives.
“As Monday marks the one year anniversary of the wicked massacre, I pray that God receives the souls of those who lost their lives. They are saints in heaven by the grace of God.”
He, however, encouraged those who might have passed through similar horrible experience or persecution to continue to worship God.