On Sunday morning, more than 30 people including women and children were killed at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, in Owo town, Ondo state. The killers stormed the church around 11:30am, reportedly used dynamites to gain access into the church and started shooting at worshippers. They turned the said church which is barely 200 metres away from the palace of Olowo of Owo into a slaughterhouse. They murdered people of different height, size, complexion but of same faith in cold blood. They did not only come to kill, they came to pass a message too.
Barely 30 minutes after the news of Owo killings went viral, the memory of Igangan killings which happened on June 5, 2021 exactly a year resuscitated. I remembered how gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen attacked Igangan community in Oyo, killed residents and allegedly raped women mercilessly in their homes.
The Igangan attack did not happen in daylight. Attackers came at night, perpetrated their evil acts and left the people in absolute grief. What did Nigerians and authorities do? We firstly discussed for a while. We later shared in their grief, condemned the act and set-up a regional security outfit to tackle and avert situations of such nature. As at 22nd February, 2022, some members of Oyo State House of Assembly were still appealing to Governor Seyi Makinde to fulfill the promises he made to the victims of Igangan attack.
It is now an exact one year Igangan attack occured. Aside the delay in justice, no clear development or progress made. Like many others, the people of Igangan are still vulnerable to attacks. People who rely on authorities and security agencies to apprehend and possibly prosecute the attackers responsible for loss of lives and properties in the attack are still waiting for answers.
Like the 7-year-old son of a slain vigilante head who wakes up every morning with the memory of how his father was murdered in cold blood. Like wives who witnessed the destruction of their properties and gory killing of their husbands in Igangan community. All of them still look forward to a particular day they will be called upon to witness the prosecution and if possible execution of people who made them orphans.
When I read about Owo killings, I was deeply sad. Owo killings is a sad progress and a clear proof that the tactics of these evil men are greater than our new arrangements. Churches and Mosques are scared places. I grew up in my ‘sleepy hometown’ with clear teachings that people run to churches and mosques for safety and protection.
I could remember vividly how people rushed to churces during the days of tensed power struggle between Oyinlola and Aregbesola for protection. The day armed robbers forwarded a letter of intention to our community, we did not only inform the people but also gathered women and children inside churches and mosques for protection. It is sad that religious homes have become slaughter-houses and worse that the people we are in conflict with have no respect for humanity and God. This tells us that we must be courageously ready to tackle this menace and engage in more actions than talks on newspaper pages.
I earlier posited that people responsible for Owo killings came to pass a message. Yes, those killers came to Owo to pass a message of vulnerability. They came to expose our weak security systems, ridiculing new arrangement such as Amotekun which was deliberately set-up to consolidate the workings of security agencies. They have made us understand that they can launch attacks anywhere, anytime and anyhow. It is sad and terribly unfortunate that we will only lament the Owo killings and ignore the essential which is adequate preparation against such attack as the police go deeper in investigation to unravel people responsible for this horror.
A chart which pitifully analysed our attitude as a nation to horror or terrifying incident surfaced yesterday. I believe most readers would have seen it. The chart is as follows; “Mass shooting – Media extravagance – Thoughts – Prayers – Social media debates – No one actually does anything – Back to normal”. This chart is no doubt a true reflection of our attitude to any incident related to insecurity.
We must carefully study the pattern of Owo killings. It has exposed our vulnerability and unconsciously revealed to us that our regional security outfit needs urgent review. It is surprising that such attack of high altitude could happen and no official arrest has been made as at the time of writing this piece. Eventhough security agencies have failed us but we must not fail ourselves.
They have taken the battle to the backyard of Gani Adams, the leader of all warriors in Yorubaland. Like Igangan, they have tested the microphone again in Owo. This was how it all started in South-East region before it escalated into a full crisis. South-West has never been a region that abhors crime or violence for long. We have zero tolerance for such demonic act and we must rise to responsibility.
We must be readily available for solutions. We must hunt these killers and make them pay. If the killers of Igangan attack had paid heavily for what they did, it would have sent a message to others that we do not tolerate such act of evil. The microphone has been tested in Oyo and now Ondo. The gap is closing. The lion has lost its teeth and grip. We are surrounded. The time to act now. Like one of my good friends will always say, too MUCH O NECESSAR, let us act.
Till I write you again, do not allow them to kill you.
Sodiq Lawal Chocomilo is an online editor at WITHIN NIGERIA, writes from Osogbo, the capital of Osun State