midst tears and wailing, the Catholic Diocese of Ondo on Friday held a funeral service for victims of the June 5 attack at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.
The attack by gunmen during mass, claimed no fewer than 40 lives of worshippers while over 74 worshippers are still receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre and St. Louis Hospital, both in Owo.
The service, held at the Mydas Event and Resort, Owo, was attended by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu, his wife, Betty, immediate past Governor of the state, Dr Segun Mimiko and prominent indigenes of the state.
Speaking at the service, Bishop Ayo Badejo of Oyo Catholic Diocese condemned the attack and killing of the innocent worshippers.
Badejo, while appreciating those who had brought succour to the victims of the attack, described the incident as “sheer brutality and crudeness without any justification.”
While saying that the attack was a total desecration on body of Christ and humanity, the cleric recounted that lives of children between the age of two and three were lost in the incident.
According to him, “the church is battered but not down.”
He explained that none of the injured did anything wrong before their sudden death, saying “though they are dead, we have solace that they are in the hands of Jesus Christ.”
Badejo, who read Psalm 22: verse 1-3 and Psalm 42, verse 8-10, said tragedy and sorrow could only prevail if succumbed to it.
He appealed to Christian faithful “to refuse to be crushed”, noting that “every Christian who died in Christ Jesus has hope in resurrection.”
He called on the Federal Government and other stakeholders to address, in earnest, “the prevalent brutality and senseless killings across the country.”
He enjoined the country’s leaders to shun discrimination and listen to cries of the people, noting that the Owo attack might not be the last.
Badejo said that if the ugly situation is allowed to continue, people might resort to self-defence.
The bishop also appealed to bandits to have a change of heart, repent and embrace good life in order to build a country of peace and prosterity.
Speaking during the service, Akeredolu reiterated his administration’s commitment to safety of lives and property of residents.
The Governor, while condemning the attack, called for the immediate rejig of the country’s security architecture.
The governor announced that the mass burial planned for the victims has been cancelled because some of the victims had been buried, as their families could not wait for the funeral.
He said that some victims would be buried today, Friday, while some would be returned to the morgue.