Seven days after the terror attack on St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, on June 5, 2022, which led to the killing of about 40 worshipers, the six governors of the South West geo political zone under the aegis of the South West Governors’ Forum (SWGF) have declared a three-day mourning period in memory of the victims.
This was disclosed in a communique issued and signed by the chairman and Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu after the virtual meeting of the governors on Sunday, June 12, 2022.
According to the statement, the mourning period will hold between Monday, June 13, to Wednesday, June 15, 2022 to symbolise the collective loss across all South Western States of the country.
The communique reads:
“The recent attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa Street, Owo, compels immediate intervention in the whole of the South West to nip the insidious phenomenon of insurgency in the bud.
“The meeting, consequently, took decisions, some of which are expected to have far-reaching implications in the quest to protect lives and property in the region.
“The Governors condemn, in very strong terms, the horrendous crime perpetrated by terrorist against the people and residents of Owo, Ondo State and by extension, the peace-loving people of the South West. The Governors sympathise with the victims of the mindless attack in Owo.
“The Governors agreed to declare a three day mourning period in memory of the victims of the 5th June, 2022 terror attack on St Francis Catholic, Owaluwa Street, Owo, Ondo State, starting from Monday, 13th June to Wednesday, 15th, June, 2022 to symbolise our collective loss across all South Western States in Nigeria.
“The meeting agreed that all the Governors should direct the flying of Flags at half mast in all public buildings, facilities and official residences across all the states of the South West in honour of the victims of the Owo attack.
“The Governors noted, with great discomfiture, the increasing agitations about spaces taken over by unidentified and unknown migrants in all South West States. The meeting, therefore, recommends an increase in the scope of surveillance of the activities of these undocumented settlers by relevant security agencies in all the States.
“The Governors, as Chief Security Officers, resolved to continue to assist the security agencies in the areas of crisis management and intelligence gathering at ALL times.
“The Governors reviewed reports from various States on the factors militating against peace and security in the region. They expressed grave concern on the influx of Okada riders into all parts of the South West, especially the State capitals. The meeting further resolved that efforts be geared toward identity management of Okada riders and stringent regulation put in place for their operation.
“Consequently, the Forum decided it was time to reconvene the South West Security Committee to look critically into this creeping menace before it blossoms into another intractable social problem. The Committee will be expected to submit its findings on the desirability of Okada operations in the region. It is also expected to submit a multi-level template to combat the threat of insurgency and terrorism in the region.
“The Forum agreed to convene forthwith a physical meeting of the South West Governors to deliberate on the security challenges confronting the region,” it added.