An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has again totally condemned the killing of worshippers inside the St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State which occurred Sunday, 5th June, 2022. MURIC submitted that although the attack was inhuman and criminal, it had no political, tribal or religious motivation.
A statement was also signed by Professor Ishaq Akintola, director of the organization. He said :
“Reports have reached us of a reprisal attack on the Hausa community in Ogwatoghose and Akure in Ondo State after the criminal and unjustifiable attack on St. Francis Church located in Oba-Oluwa Street, Owo in which many worshippers lost their lives. Although we issued a statement in which we strongly condemned the church attack, we are compelled to speak up again after the alleged reprisal attacks.
“From all indications, it now looks more like a bandit attack particularly after learning that the attackers also kidnapped some people. Pecuniary gain may therefore be the motive behind the attack. The fact that the same bandits have been attacking both mosques and churches while killing and kidnapping both Muslims and Christians necessitates caution.
“The Hausa communities that are being attacked are also victims of banditry in their states. Those Northerners who have been attacked or who are already being targeted in Ondo State and other places are therefore not the culprits.
“The motive of the bandits is the money they hope to get from the families of their kidnapped victims. Churches, mosques, schools, trains, buses, etc are usually attacked by them because they see those places not only as soft targets but also as places where they can get large numbers of people. The higher the number of victims the bigger the expected ransom. They make their attacks as ferocious as possible in order to create fear in the hearts of people.
“It is therefore a reign of terror. Religion is out of it. In actual fact many victims of the bandits who were released after paying ransom have confirmed that these hoodlums know nothing about religion. Many of their Muslim victims who requested for permission to observe salat (Muslim prayer) while in captivity were beaten mercilessly for daring to mention salat in their presence.
“We call on the good people of Nigeria to come together against men of evil. We must know the difference between religion, ethnicity and crime. Let us not identify criminals by their tribes or their faiths in order not to hurt innocent people.
“Those who committed this atrocity inside the church have lost their humanity. It must be noted that they are under the influence of narcotics. They are not even ordinary agents of Shaytan but Shaytan incarnate. Both Christians and Muslims must unite to device means of overpowering them.
“The information paraphernalia at both the federal and state levels should be set in motion to create awareness of the danger of reprisal attacks for fear of the bandwagon effect it may generate.
“MURIC reminds Nigerians that justice is a square peg. Vengeance is a round hole. The two cannot match. What you seek to get is not what you achieve and the cycle of violence can go on ad infinitum until it gets back to those who initiated it.
“Worse still, reprisal attacks may lead to war. Let us learn from Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan. Rockets are still falling on Ukranian infrastructure. It is painful watching the fast destruction of civilization on such massive scale. We therefore appeal to all and sundry to leave this matter in the hands of the security agencies.
“We are waiting for swift action from the Federal Government (FG). Compensation should be paid to the bereaved families. Those injured should be treated at FG’s expense while the cost of repairing the church should be taken up by FG. Besides, the state government should be forthcoming in terms of hospitality towards the victims’ families and trauma management by experts. They must be made to feel the presence of government.
“We advise the leadership of the Muslim community in Owo, Ondo State to initiate sympathy and courtesy visits to St. Francis Catholic Church. We must forge unity at a time enemies of peace have done their worst. Let us defeat public enemies with exchanges of neighbourliness.”