The Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, has explained that the perpetrators of June 5 Owo massacre in the state have not been arrested because they operate from forests in the state and migrate after every attack.
Religion Nigeria had earlier reported that over 40 congregants of a Catholic church in Owo were killed by yet-to-be-identified identified gunmen.
Speaking on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television, on Monday, Akeredolu said, “We are still on the track of the perpetrators and we are yet to make a serious headway and that is for many reasons; these people usually disappear into our forests and from there migrate to other states.”
The governor added that the vehicle and mobile gadgets suspected to have been used by the gunmen had been handed over to the Department of State Services for forensic analysis.
He added, “We have called on our traditional rulers that we must all be ready to rise up to defend our land and defend our people. What I really mean by that is that; you can’t fold your hands and say people (attackers) are coming and you are running away.
“No; if they bring a fight to you, fight them back. There is no room to run away from it. That was why when I heard my brother in Zamfara, who said people should carry arms and license people to carry arms, it might be to some a bit of extreme measure, but when you are pushed to the wall, there is nothing else you can say.”
On the claim by the Federal Government that the attack was carried out by the Islamic State in West Africa Province, Akeredolu said, “We are not people who will buy the idea that it is ISWAP or bandits or terrorists or Fulani herdsmen. We have been facing – at least in Ondo State – terrorism from the three, whether they are bandits or Fulani herdsmen or ISWAP; they work together. I don’t know how you want to separate them, except you have concrete evidence.”
“Our contention is that ISWAP, most times, if not all the time, take responsibility for their actions. So, when they do things, they say ‘we have done it.’ They take pride in this heinous crime. So, I expect that if ISWAP had done this, all this while, they would have come up and owned up (to it). But some of us have our fears that it cannot be ISWAP and we do not agree with that position because the security agencies were just too quick.”
The governor noted that since the Owo attack, the people of the state had learnt to take security more seriously, which led to his order on security guards and the installation of Closed Circuit Televisions in public places.