10th August, 2022
OWO CHURCH ATTACK: FULANI WAS WRONGLY BLAMED
The Nigerian Army yesterday announced the arrest of attackers of worshippers at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, on Sunday, 5th June, 2022. Meanwhile the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic human rights advocacy group, has condemned the manner some Nigerians wrongly blamed Fulani herdsmen for the attack. The organisation commended the security agencies for tracking down the culprits and urged Nigerians to desist from hating their country.
This was contained in a statement issued on Wednesday 10th August, 2022 by the director of the Islamic human rights organisation, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The statement reads:
“The Nigerian Army yesterday announced the arrest of those who attacked churchgoers at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, on Sunday, 5th June, 2022. The attack resulted in the death of 40 worshippers.
“However, it is interesting to discover that contrary to the gargantuan mountain of blames heaped on Fulani herders over the attack, none of those arrested was a Fulani man. Rather, they are all from Okene, Kogi State.
“For instance, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu blamed the trilogy of Fulani, bandits and ISWAP. He said, ‘But whatever it is, we stand by the position that it’s a trilogy that is operating in our forests and causing havoc. We just have Fulani herdsmen right in front, followed by these bandits and again ISWAP; so, the three of them work together and they work separately (https://tribuneonlineng.com/fg-was-too-quick-to-blame-iswap-for-owo-church-attack-akeredolu/).
“The US Institute, Knoxville News Sentinel, swallowed Akeredolu’s bait by accusing the Nigerian Government of shielding herdsmen involved in the attack on worshippers in Owo church (https://www.lindaikejisblog.com/2022/7/us-institute-accuses-nigerian-government-of-shielding-herdsmen-and-blaming-iswap-for-owo-attack.html).
“The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) was not left out as it blamed Fulani terrorists and accused FG of shielding herdsmen by accusing ISWAP of the horrendous attack (https://www.icirnigeria.org/owo-massacre-report-accuses-fg-of-shielding-herdsmen-by-blaming-terrorists/).
“Next came the Yoruba Alliance who said, ‘We hold Buhari responsible. He invited Fulani terrorists from across Africa into Nigeria.’ (https://hallmarknews.com/owo-massacre-we-hold-buhari-responsible-he-invited-fulani-from-across-africa-into-nigeria-yoruba-alliance/). The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) also linked the attack to ‘Fulani terrorists’ (https://dailypost.ng/2022/06/07/owo-massacre-ipob-reacts-to-attack-on-catholic-church-reveals-those-responsible/).
“Even Nairaland online media came out with a screaming headline, ‘Fulani terrorists behind Owo Church attack Arrested’ (https://www.nairaland.com/7170889/fulani-terrorists-responsible-owo-church).
“But surprisingly, none of those arrested is a Fulani as announced and paraded by the army yesterday, Tuesday, 9th August, 2022 (https://naijablog.ng/2022/08/10/photos-army-release-names-of-ebiras-all-from-okene-kogi-as-the-fulani-terrorist-that-attack-ondo-churches-chidi-cali/).
“We recall the spontaneous attacks on Northerners and their properties immediately after the church massacre, particularly in Ogwatoghose and Ikare areas of Ondo State. Now we can all see that the wrong and innocent people were attacked while the criminals got away. (https://newswirengr.com/2022/06/06/ondo-residents-attack-northerners-in-retaliation-for-owo-church-attack/).
“It behoves Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to appease the Fulani victims of the reprisal attacks. Those who lost properties should be compensated. Some form of relief should also be provided for families of those who were killed among them.
“MURIC appeals to Nigerians to be circumspect, to avoid jumping to conclusions and, most importantly, to stop ethnic profiling and hasty judgement. There are criminals in all tribes just as there are decent people everywhere. Tribes do not commit crime. It is individuals who do.
“MURIC commends the security agencies for unmasking those behind the massacre. Their task was herculean, yet they did Nigeria proud by getting results within reasonable time. They proved beyond any reasonable doubt that no arm of the security agencies is sleeping.
“We charge cynics to rekindle the fire of hope in Nigeria. We will get positive results if our attitude to our soldiers, the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) is positive. We can only reap what we sow. The security agencies need our cooperation because they are not magicians. They need information.
“We cannot expect our country to change by hating it. Neither can we expect peace by working against the security agents. We must stop demarketing our country. Nigeria is a great country by all standards if only we will open our eyes to behold its greatness. Others envy our country. We must not sell it off so cheaply.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern,