Nigeria: memorial service for victims of Owo church attack

Among those who paid tribute to the memory of 40 dead was Laide Ajanaku whose parents John Adesina Ajanaku, 67, and mother Olabimpe Susana, 64, were killed when a group of gunmen stormed the congregation during Pentecost Mass at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, southwest Nigeria.

There is an inconsistency in the figures given to the media by the authorities: local MP Adeyemi Olaiemi told CNN that about 50 people died in the shooting after the attackers arrived on motorcycles.

Ajanaku told CNN she counted 39 photos in a booklet dedicated to the victims of the funeral mass.

The list of injured also states that 74 people are in the hospital with “injuries of varying severity,” the booklet says.

“There are 31 spots with pictures and 8 empty spots for some of the victims,” ​​she told CNN from the service.

“Some Igbo people carried their dead back to the southeast of the country. I’m still not sure how many of them died,” she said.

Ajanaku added that the priest paid tribute to the victims, including a two-year-old and a 65-year-old.

Laide described the mood in the crowded hall as “gloomy”, adding that some distraught relatives were rolling on the ground and some were crying in the hall.”

Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and former State Governor Olusegun Mimiko were among the dignitaries who attended the Mass.
Following the shooting, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims, who were “painfully attacked during the celebrations,” the Vatican said in a statement.

Deadly side attacks motorcycle gangs rare in southwestern Nigeria. Such attacks are more widespread in much of the country’s north, which is constantly under siege by Boko Haram terrorists and marauding militants known locally as “bandits.”
The attack on the Ovo church came after another church tragedy, when 31 people died and others are injured during a stampede at a church event in the southeastern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt.