An attack on the St Francis Catholic Church, in Owaluwa, Owo local government area of Ondo State, on Sunday, June 5, 2022, has left many dead, with others severely injured.
Although details of the incident remain sketchy, sources told Neusroom that some gunmen invaded the town on Sunday and opened fire on church members while service was ongoing. Another source said a loud explosion preceded the attack.
Neusroom could not immediately confirm the number of casualties from the attack, but multiple gory footages sent to Neusroom by eyewitnesses show some dead parishioners, including children, lying in a pool of blood inside the church. The head of one of the victims could be seen blown open, while some victims with multiple injuries were seen receiving treatment at the St Louis Catholic Hospital in Owo.
The Ondo State Police spokesperson, Funmi Odunlami and the Commander of Amotekun in Ondo State, Adetunji Adeleye, did not respond to calls from a Neusroom correspondent.
Owo, about 48km from Akure, the Ondo State capital, has been one of the hotbeds of highway kidnapping in Southwest Nigeria in the last five years.
Multiple accounts from victims who regained freedom after they were kidnapped on the Akure-Owo–Ikare highway suggest that Fulani-speaking bandits mostly perpetrate the kidnapping.
The shooting at the Owo church comes barely a week after the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Samuel Kanu-Uche, and two other ministers in his church regained freedom from their abductors after reportedly paying N100 million as ransom.
Kanu-Uche told newsmen at a press conference on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, that he was kidnapped by Fulani herdsmen who told him they have camps along the major highways in the southwest, southeast and south-south and were “waiting for the slightest signal and we will finish you people”.
It remains unclear if the Owo attack is connected with the Prelate’s claims.