Animals in Human Skin – Bolaji O. Akinyemi.
“Taa ba sunkun, a ma riran”, meaning in our moment of tears, we still see. This is an ancient Yoruba philosophy demanding human reasoning in a moment of confusion as a result of unpleasant occurrence.
Yes! It was such moment in Owo, the home town of Governor Akeredolu, in Ondo State, South West Nigeria. Tears flowed freely, anguish gripped souls of the living as the dead were been laid to rest by the government and people of Ondo State as they buried 22 victims of Owo church massacre on this day last year, but Gov Akeredolu never allowed that moment of emotional trauma to becloud his mind and overwhelm his reasoning. In tears, but he saw the perpetrators of owo church massacre for who they truly are, *animals in human skin*.
In the words of the Holy Bible, “we do not have any high priest who is not touched by the feelings of our infirmity”.
“Terrorists won’t triumph” — Kukah
Those were the words of an illustrious son of Southern Kaduna whose people have gotten use to such accounts in embarrassing frequency since Governor Nasir El-Rufai met with his distant Fulani relations at their settlement outside Nigeria to negotiate with them at stopping the killing of humans in exchange for money, the people of Ondo found comfort in the assuring words of the revered Catholic Bishop, Mathew Kukah that terrorists won’t triumph!
As if he knew that this time will come, Bishop kukah planted the seed of courage in us as a nation.
The victims of the June 5, 2022 terrorists attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State were, on this day last year laid to rest, one year after are they truly resting? Or are their spirits left to wander in the habitation of the living who are always quick to forget.
Buried in Emure community amid tears by family members and friends were 22 bodies of no fewer than 40 worshippers, including four children, who were killed in the church premises during a Sunday service by rampaging gunmen.
They were said to have operated unchallenged by security agents for about 30 minutes.
Speaking at the funeral mass held at the Mydas Resort and Hotel, Owo, the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, regretted that government failed in its duty to protect the lives of the victims, because the attackers had backers.
Painfully and regrettably Akeredolu stood by the people whose mandate the government holds, without any sense of responsibility to admit the failure of Government. Such gruesome day light murder can’t be committed unchallenged by security forces except the attackers had backers.
The government which has not ceased to fail the people, though leadership has passed from Buhari to Tinubu, the animals in human skin are still loose walking freely among us and continuing their dastardly act.
The governor, who said he lacked the words to describe the massacre, vowed that evil would not prevail over the state.
“We have failed to defend these people. Not because we have not tried, but because these forces on the other side are evil and they have supports. They will not triumph over us forever.
When I see the sea of heads here it speaks volumes. What has happened to us in Owo, in Ondo State is indescribable. A lot of words are used to qualify it – dastardly, horrendous – but I still believe there are words to use to describe it but I’m still short of those words.
“We have just 22 (deceased) in this hall. A few of them have been buried because the relatives couldn’t wait till today. But as at the last count, these animals came to the church and murdered 40 people,” Akeredolu said.
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Jude Arogundade, expressed bitterness over the attack, saying the incident underscored the need for state police.
“Why do the people of this country need to beg for state police, despite the endless attacks and killings?” he queried.
The cleric commended the governor for designating a memorial park in honour of the victims, stressing that the killers had blood on their hands.
The Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, who was also at the funeral mass, called on Christians in the country to remain strong in the face growing attacks.
He said, “We remain hopeful about the future of our country which is in the hands of God.
Where we are now is not Nigeria; we don’t recognise our country any longer but again we have nowhere to turn to except to look up to God. We are prayerfully hoping on the power of God more than any person can talk about. We call on our people to remain strong.”
Some of the relatives of the victims blamed the government for not taking the security of lives and properties of the people seriously.
Mr Nwani Christopher, who lost his brother and a niece to the incident, described it as a serious blow to the family.
He said, “I lost somebody who is very dear to me, a senior brother with his daughter, a promising child that we were hoping would grow to be a person the family will depend on. It was a tragic event on that June 5 that somebody went to church and never came back.
“What I want to use this opportunity to say is, let the government decide if this country can still accommodate all of us because despite their sermon of unity in diversity, I’ve not seen that one Nigeria. Why are all these things happening? It seems the people at the top are intentionally keeping silent. Are they benefiting from all these?”
Another mourner, Mrs Helen Ifeanyi, who said she lost a brother-in-law, appealed for more effective security.
She said, “Government should provide security at the state level. If there was security on that day, the damage would not be this much. They (security agents) would have stopped them (the gunmen) but on that day, they just had a field day and they went scot-free. We are seriously devastated.”
A year has passed, our dead are not resting, the animals are not tamed and government still continues to fail.
Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi is an Apostle and Nation Builder. Convener Apostolic Round Table and BOT Chairman Project Victory Call Initiative, AKA PVC-NAIJA.