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Two years after Owo church attack, survivor recounts miraculous escape

Two years after the horrible terrorist attack at the St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, one of the lucky survivors who has now relocated permanently to Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, Mrs. Phebian Osagie, has relived the agony of her experience and how she and another survivor, Similoluwa Micheal Adetoye, escaped death.

The two among others worshipped in the same church on the said day when they escaped death by miracle.

Mrs Osagie, 38 and a single mother of one said she lost her son, Tony Osagie, to the incident, however, narrated how God used one Similoluwa Micheal Adetoye, who was also trying to escape, to prevent her from being hit by dynamite that was fired inside the church.

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It will be recalled that no fewer than 41 worshippers, including children and the elderly, were murdered in cold blood by terrorists during a morning mass in the church on June 5, 2022.

Aside from shooting worshippers at close range, the terrorists also threw dynamite inside the church, with many victims severely injured while others are still nursing their wounds and shuttling between their homes and specialist hospitals in the town.

Speaking during church service at the Eternal Grace Church in Tanke, Ilorin, last Sunday, Mrs Osagie said that although the incident had remained indelible in her memory, she gave God the glory for miraculously saving her life.

She narrated that she had given her eight-year-old son, Tony, a N100 note to go and buy snacks because both of them did not eat breakfast before leaving home that day. It was when Tony reached the church entrance that the attackers suddenly launched gunshots, and her son was unfortunately hit in the chest and fell in his pool of blood, panting and struggling for his life.

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She said the sight of her son struggling made her run to rescue him while people were scampering for safety. But she said that a young man from behind forcefully dragged her down, held her by the head, and asked her to lie down flat under the wooden chairs with him.

“At first, I even thought he was part of the terrorists who wanted to kidnap me alive, so I didn’t put up much resistance. However, when I managed to look at him while rolling under the chair with the sound of gunshots rolling above us, I realised he was also trying to escape.

“To cut a long story short, he held my left hands firm and, at a point, asked me to rise while we both jumped outside through the window. On landing outside, I hurt my left thigh and elbow, but the horror made the pain insignificant.

“While lying outside, we could see so many bodies on the floor, many of them dead, while others were grasping for breath. Similoluwa asked me to lie down and mix with the bodies lying on the floor. It was there that he told me his name was Similoluwa Michael Adetoye, and he couldn’t find his family. He freed my hand and asked me to forget my son, who was already dead, and try and escape so I could later come for his body.

“Before I could reply, he had already rolled away and vanished, while I also ran to a nearby house, where I met some rescue team members who took me to the hospital.

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“God used him to save my life. It’s unfortunate I don’t know his whereabouts anymore, but God will stand by him wherever he is today.”.

Asked if she still thinks about her son, she said she has accepted her fate, and she’s sure her son is resting in the tomb of Jesus Christ as a little boy who died in a martyr way.

She commended the church for the assistance given to her, which helped her stabilise easily.

“The church is wonderful; I was given some money, and the same applies to all survivors. I shouldn’t have left Owo, but the trauma of losing my son could not allow me to stay longer in the town,” she said while asking the congregation to praise God on her behalf.

Two years after Owo church attack, survivor recounts miraculous escape

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