The Community of Practice Against Mass Atrocities in Nigeria, under the auspices of Nigeria Mourns, unequivocally condemns the vile atrocities committed against worshippers at the St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State on the 5th of June 2022. We mourn these deaths as we extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the bereaved families of the victims and survivors of the senseless attack.
As a collective, we are greatly distressed by this attack, carried out on innocent Nigerians and Christian worshippers on Pentecost Sunday. That same weekend, there were kidnappers on the rampage in Kwara, Delta, Anambra and in Kano. Terrorists also attacked Nigerian citizens in Borno. The incessant trend of daily killings across the country must not be allowed to continue.
This year 2022 has seen one of the bloodiest years since the onset of Nigeria’s fourth republic, yet the government remains timid in the face of unprecedented threats to the lives, safety, and security of Nigerians. It is reprehensible that in the face of the mourning, yet avoidable tragedies that befall the nation and incessant calls for action, the government has refused to take active steps to ensure the safety of its people. As law enforcement and all arms of government continue in their failure to act, non-state violent actors are further emboldened to perpetrate acts of violence and carnage against Nigerians; and the recent massacre in Owo shows that they have extended their geographical reach to the relatively peaceful South-West region.
We are appalled by the lip service paid by the government to this tragedy. It is quite unfortunate that on such a day of tragedy and national mourning, the president and members of the ruling party continued with the business of politics; hosting a dinner that had senior members of the administration in attendance. This action is insensitive at best and extremely callous and inhumane at worst.
The actions of the government in responding to the massacre in Owo, are not only reflective of the government’s lack of capacity to maintain public order and security but show its lax approach to holding perpetrators accountable. It begs the question, is the government itself and its security agencies complicit in these mass atrocities? We need the Federal Government of Nigeria to act NOW. It is rather curious that security agencies are able to use all tools at their disposal to track down #EndSARS protesters and others they consider dissidents for demanding their human rights BUT are unable
to use the same tools to apprehend mass murderers, child killers and terrorists. Again, is the Nigerian government a willing accomplice to mass murder by it choosing to look the other way?
In this season of heightened insecurity and at this time when the confidence of citizens in government is at its lowest, we call on the governments at both the federal and state levels to ensure the security and welfare of all Nigerians as mandated by Section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution.
Also, the political elites must at this juncture put politics aside and work together to address this crisis of unbridled violence that threatens Nigeria’s democratic stability and the unity of the country.
We call on all Nigerians to join us in the call for the government to urgently restructure the security architecture of the country and #SecureNigeria. We must not renege on our demand for a safer Nigeria.
These mass atrocities are enough! These killings must stop! The government must secure Nigeria!
Signed for the Community of Practise Against Mass Atrocities:
Executive Director, Global Rights
Executive Director, Center for Community Excellence
Dr Chris Kwaja
Executive Director, African Initiative for Peace Building, Advocacy and Advancement (AfriPeace)
Ier Jonathan Ichaver
Co-Founder, Sesor Empowerment Foundation
Executive Director, Alliances for Africa
Executive Director, We the People
Team Lead, Srarina Initiative for Peace, Justice and Development