OWO MASSACRE: We Told Authorities Potential Attackers Were Around But Nobody Listened — Olowo, Oba Ogunoye - 9jaflaver

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OWO MASSACRE: We Told Authorities Potential Attackers Were Around But Nobody Listened — Olowo, Oba Ogunoye

OWO MASSACRE: We told authorities potential attackers were around but nobody listened — Olowo, Oba Ogunoye

By Dayo Johnson, Akure

Peace in Ondo State was disrupted during service last Sunday when terrorists went on the rampage, killing about 50 worshippers at St Francis Catholic Church, Owo. Sunday Vanguard spoke to the Olowo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, whose palace is situated less than 200 meters from the scene of the attack.


The Catholic Church that was attacked last week is at your backyard. Where were you on that ill-fated day?
I was in the palace.

How do you feel that the peace of the ancient town was disrupted by the attackers?

I’m very sad about the incident. I am also telling you that the whole Owo Kingdom is in mourning mood at the moment. This is a thing that we never expected, and never experienced before, though we are not oblivious of the fact that Nigeria as a nation has been experiencing this type of sad incident and we have been very apprehensive and prayed that or it won’t get to our end and behold we are experiencing it. It’s quite unfortunate!

Did you hear the gunshots and did you make efforts to invite security agencies?

I heard everything. We made several efforts to call security agencies and immediately I made a call to the Governor Rotimi Akeredolu who was in Abuja then. The governor assured me that he will find means of getting back to Owo immediately and he was able to arrive here, I think less than three hours after the incident.

The attack of the ancient Owo is seen as a sacrilege. What do think?

It is. Our position has always been that nobody can wage war against us and succeed and we will not fold our arms on this matter.

If you won’t fold your hands, what efforts has the community taken to forestall future occurrences of this nature?

We are discussing, we are taking steps, the issue of security cannot be discussed in the public, but we wouldn’t relent, we will find means of protecting ourselves and take actions to forestall any future occurrence. We can’t open our eyes and allowed hoodlums wage war against us.

Hours after the attack, some aggrieved youths in Owo, we learnt, vowed to retaliate. Are you aware of this and what are you doing to discourage a reprisal attack?

Yes! I’m aware, it was some hours after the incident, several youths came out, they were very annoyed, they showed their annoyance. I learned that some people wanted to begin action against the Fulani and Hausa communities in Owo. I had to call everybody and advised them that retaliating against Hausa and Fulani people may affect innocent people and I didn’t want crisis in my domain.

Hausa/Fulani people have been living amongst us over the years, conducting their lawful businesses without trouble. So, I told our youths to refrain from any attack of any form because I know those criminals who mastermind and carried out the dastardly act are not living with us here. Those who carried out the act had run away, they should allow security agencies to do their work in terms of investigation and possible apprehension of those behind the attack. So, I have very good relationship with non-natives living with us. They all agreed with me and everyone went home in their mourning mood and since then we have been mourning.

Insecurity across the country has become worrisome. As a traditional ruler, what advice do you have for government?

It is the Federal Government that has security apparatus of the country in its hands. The Federal Government needs to be very proactive. This is not just starting. Nigeria has been experiencing this over time especially in the northern part of the country. So, it requires the Federal Government to engage in practical actions rather than mere comments or whatever.

The situation requires action and security agencies should exercise their power to crush these criminals and make our country safe and free of terrorist activities. I know that the Nigeria Police and the army are professionals and have the capability to forestall all these.

They should know they are challenged to exercise the power given to them by the laws of the land and by the Federal Government. Over time now, we’ve been complaining that forests surrounding us in Owo here, even in the whole of Ondo State and Yoruba land, have been invaded by the Fulani herdsmen who have settled there. This environment is predominantly farming community. So, our people have been unable to access their farms for a long time and, when this continues to be, that means these people will face famine and famine will lead to death.

Have you at any point raised the alarm over their presence in the forests?
I have made several recommendations and requests pleading with the Federal Government that the forests should be combed and those who are there in totality should be flushed out and that has also been the mission of Ondo State government as well and we know that the governor of Ondo State has been trying, in his own little way, through the establishment of the Amotekun Corps.

If not because of the presence of the Amotekun Corps, what we experienced on Sunday will have happened before now because we’ve been experiencing attacks here and there by the Fulani on our people. So, government must wake up.

Then Nigeria as a nation, as we often say, is practicing federalism, why not allow the features of federalism to be so followed as it is done elsewhere across the world, in Canada, in India, in the United States of America among others, whereby states would have the authority to have their own police, well equipped.

I think until we are able to achieve that we may not find it easy in this country. I think we are challenged. Let us practice true federalism with its tenets. We don’t have any options now. If the Federal Government is centralizing the instrument of coercion, then it should live up to expectations. And the question is, are we really ready to continue to live together as a nation? All other nations of the world are progressing.

Look at Ghana, look at Rwanda, which was ravaged by war some years ago, they are no progressing. I don’t know what our problem is. When are we going to progress? Development can only take place where there is peace, good relationship and other things. Those who are saddled with this responsibility, I don’t know what they are doing.

The leadership of this country needs to wake up. We are just moving backward everyday instead of progressing. This is disheartening because there is no yardstick to show we are moving forward. We need to discuss among ourselves.

Have traditional rulers in the country met with the Federal Government to discuss the way forward, particularly on the issue of true federalism?

We have not, we traditional rulers are not given any recognition by the Constitution unlike the pre-independence era. It is a great challenge to us. We may talk, we may advise, we may recommend but those in authority may not take our opinion. But having meetings, I believe we will begin to do that because it is now necessary. But our problem is that we are constraint by the laws of the land.

Reports had it that despite distress calls to security agencies when the attackers came, there was no response from them…

It is very unfortunate, even the policemen around here are not equipped. That is the truth. They can’t even face miscreants. They don’t have vehicles even to patrol. That is what I am saying. The police here would also have to get order from Abuja before doing anything. But if we have state police, those ones would have been able to be more proactive in facing the attackers because they are closer to the people. So, that is why we need to have state police. Federalism should be practiced the way it should be.

Source:- Vanguard

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