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Owo Massacre: Another ‘Murder in the Cathedral’?

8 months ago
Herald News

Was that another recap of the real Murder in the Cathedral?

‘Murder in the Cathedral’ by the famous Poet, T. S. Eliot, is a verse drama which was first performed in 1935. The drama depicted the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral during the reign of Henry II in 1170.

In what look like a repeat of that drama, there was a gestapo-like pandemonium right at the heart of the ancient town of Owo in Ondo State south western Nigeria.

This time around, it was at Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, the headquarters of the Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State as gunmen attacked the church on Sunday, the 5th day of June, 2022.

In the aftermath, scores of dead bodies, injured individuals were seen all over the place.

The attack on the church in Owo,  the hometown of the state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, came barely a week after the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Bishop Samuel Kanu-Uche, was kidnapped in Abia State by gunmen the priest later identified as Fulani youths.

It was learnt the gunmen, who attacked the Catholic church, arrived at the premises, which is less than 200 metres from the palace of the Olowo of Owo, at 12pm when the Sunday mass was being rounded off.

It was reported that worshippers, mostly children and women, were killed in the attack, by gunmen, who were said to have thrown an improvised explosive device before they started shooting sporadically.

As if that was not enough, barely few days after this dastardly act, two trucks loaded with some unknown youths numbering about 25 were intercepted by OPC and vigilante team in Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State. When thoroughly searched, deadly arms were recovered from them. The ammunitions, according to eye witness, were hidden in the two trucks.

One thing that has over the years played out in the event of any attack, is that of the torrent of condemnations that usually trail such attacks. From relevant government agencies, security apparatus, highly placed individuals and other organisations – there have always been all shades and forms of condemnations. However, it is sad to note that the flood of condemnations have not addressed or prevent a reoccurrence, at least, with the benefit of hindsight.

Noteworthy to learn that the President, Mohammadu Buhari, after the sad development, vowed to mobilises all state resources to neutralise attackers. It is however more than 4-days since the incident happened, there has not been any meaningful, concrete step taken so far.

History is replete with similar scenario where empty promises were made – just to douse tension and with time, things get healed for a moment, until another mishap is recorded.

Till date, some of the travellers that were kidnapped during Abuja-Kaduna train attack are yet to regain their freedom. Bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and armed groups are busy having a field day in the country, while government appears helpless, clueless with no sense of direction as to how to address the raging security issues. At best, should we conclude or align with what analysts have suggested over the years – that the prevalence of arm-wilding militia men is as a result of government’s veiled support – all for some parochial interests.

When nations around the world work to safeguard and protect their citizens, Nigeria government, on its part look the other way when its citizens are being attacked, maimed, kidnapped and bused. Where is the legitimacy of a government that cannot guarantee right to life, and protection of life and property of its citizens?

Suffix to add to continued inaction and or lip service of the Federal Government on matters relating to the security of life and property of the people of Nigeria is nothing but a deliberate conspiracy to run the nation aground.

Why would government tactically allow non-state actors to operate freely without check. Even, sympathisers of criminal elements, who have never hid their love for their atrocities, move freely without been called for questions. Feelers from among security agencies also attest to the fact that officers are usually barred from going all-out to checkmate these non-state actors.

What is paramount to the ruling class now is the 2023 elections – as if the dead will be among those who will vote on the day of election. Or after forming government, they will rule over the dead. Why is it difficult for the ruling class to place emphasis on security first? Instead, they prefer to dance on the graves on innocent victims of heinous crimes – this they do most of the time by visiting to sympathise with families who have lost loved ones. In the process, they embark on such self-serving visit with retinue of aides, cameramen, videographers etc – all to score cheap political gain.

All these are a pointer to the fact that a new Nigeria beckons. A new order that is devoid of rancour, subjectivity, good brotherly love, collective prosperity and common good.

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