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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Succour for Owo Church Victims

THE HOPE once again decries the dastardly attack on harmless worshippers at the Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owo on the Pentecost Sunday of June 5, 2022 and the attendant violence of the killing of over 40 worshippers on the psyche of the government and the people of the state particularly church goers who are anxious about safety. This is about the first time such attacks would take place in the state. We also lament the Federal Government’s rush to blame the attacks on ISWAP as well as the recent confession of the Presidency that it was done for political reasons.

WE again sympathise with the Church, Owo community and the entire residents of Ondo State over the humongous loss. We specially sympathise with the Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye and Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu who is from the community. The Hope however acknowledges several visits paid by individuals, stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to condole with the government and the people of the state. Of particular mention are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo representing the Federal Government, State Governors, members of the Diplomatic Corps,  political leaders, religious and traditional leaders as well as representatives of ethnic nationalities and groups who visited the scene as well as the Olowo’s palace and Governor’s Office to register their condolences.

AS part of the efforts to give succour to the injured and families of the deceased, the state government in conjunction with the church had organized a befitting funeral service and ensured that the dead were buried in their respective domains. The Ondo State Government has also presented cash gifts, additional drugs and medical commodities to the victims. Worthy of mention are the numerous donations by sympathisers including governments, groups and individuals.

THESE include Nigerian Governors Forum led by the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; Presidential Candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar;and Accord Party, Prof. Imumolen Irene. Others include Afenifere led by Pa Ayo Adebanjo; Christian and Islamic groups as well as a Facebook user, Okungbowa Paul Ovbokhan. All the above made cash donations and/or scholarships and other commitments to bring succour to the victims including the three fatherless kids who have been orphaned by the killing of their parents in the attack.

FOR effective coordination and disbursement of existing and anticipated donations, the Ondo State Government has created a receiving pot by opening an endowment account in memory of the victims.  Government has also gone further to set up a standing committee to manage the funds.

THE five-man committee headed by the Finance Commissioner, Mr Wale Akinterinwa also has the parish priest of the affected church as a member. This initiative is highly commendable.  We charge members of the committee to stay within the precincts of their mandate and ensure they do the right thing.

THEY should be guided by transparency and accountability in order to avoid the controversies generated by similar initiatives in Nigeria in the past like the Covid-19 palliatives experience. To this end and without prejudice to the competence of the members of this committee, Governor Akeredolu should exercise oversight on the committee and ensure that periodic reports of their activities are made public to build people’s confidence and encourage more people to donate.

AS part of honouring the memory of the dead as well as building the confidence of Ondo residents, it is heartwarming that men of the Amotekun Corps and other security agencies have arrested some suspects in connection with the killings.

THIS, no doubt, will reassure residents of the state that they have not been abandoned more so that Governor Akeredolu had earlier told the world that his statement that the killers would be fished out and made to pay for the crime was not an empty boast. 

WE therefore urge security agencies to do a thorough investigation and ensure diligent prosecution. They should collaborate with critical stakeholders including the locals and neighboring states and synergise to ensure that Ondo State is not turned into a terrible platform for criminal activities.


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