In this report, ADEWALE MOMOH writes on how the Ondo State Government doled out cash donations to surviving victims and families of those who lost their lives in the June 5 terror attack at Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owo; as victims recall memories of the deadly incident
Three months after the Owo massacre, where over 40 worshippers were killed in a gruesome manner at the Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owo, religious activities in the church are yet to resume. No doubt the pangs of the June 5 incident are still fresh in the hearts of those who survived the attack as well as families who had loved ones among the victims.
For the families, it was an emotional moment for them again as they converged on the church premises to receive cash donations from the Ondo State Government last week. The surviving victims and families recounted their ordeals, even as they appreciated Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for remembering them by bringing them some succour in time of need. Receiving the cash gifts from the state government to assuage the pains inflicted by the dastardly act, the beneficiaries including Onuoha Chinedu, who lost his both parents, Omodara Feyidupe, who lost her brother and others, appreciated the governor for being sensitive to their plights and fulfilling his promises.
Chinedu, a corps member, narrated his ordeal: “I was in the church on that Sunday and I thank God for saving my life. I wish to appreciate the Ondo State Government for what they have done thus far, and for the fatherly love. “It shows that we have a government that has sympathy for citizens, and everyone involved in the incident. I also thank the Catholic Church for everything they have done.”
Also, Omodara Feyidupe, who lost her brother, Obuche Krummale in the attack, commended the government for the timely intervention since the incident happened. “Even when the grandmother he was taking care of heard of his demise, she had an attack that led to her death. “The package given to us is well appreciated. The efforts of the committee set up by the Ondo State Government led by Commissioner for Finance, Wale Akinterinwa has done well.” On her part, Ngozika Onyeke, who lost her husband, Onyebuchi Onyeke, and Lawrence Nzelu, who lost his wife, Stella Nzelu, during the attack expressed gratitude to the government, saying the kind gesture has given them hope. Other victims including Idoko Ofoma, who survived the incident with his wife and five children, appreciated the government for reaching out to them. One of the injured, Ayo Adetunji, a young boy, described the attack as unexpected, while thanking God for saving his life after surviving a gunshot wound. Others who benefited from the financial donations include: Mr. Agbom Paul, who lost his late brother’s wife; Evaristus Oluchukwu; Mrs. Helen Ifeanyi; Fabian Nweke; Mrs. Theophine Ogoegbunam; Chief Titus Oranuba; Sunday Festus; Precious Sunday; Oladele Christianah; Ozorchukwu Angela and Ofene Joseph.
Committee promises more
Speaking during the conclusion of the first round of the cash donations, a member of the Donation Management Committee who is also the Special Adviser to the Governor on Union Matters and Special Duties, Mr Dare Aragbaiye, explained that the committee will come back from time to time to disburse more money to the victims and particularly the deceased families as soon as more funds come into the purse which the state government has created for the purpose. He disclosed that the state government had disbursed several millions of naira to the families of the deceased and victims of the June 5 incident since last Tuesday.
Aragbaiye, who was in company of some other committee members, noted that the cash donation would assist the beneficiaries to overcome the trauma, both physical and psychological. He particularly appreciated Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) for his prompt response in assisting the victims. “Since the incident happened on the 5th of June, Mr Governor has been on this matter, particularly on the need to bring succour to the families whose loved ones were killed in the incident. And also to the injured, some of whom are still visiting the hospitals for treatments and follow-ups.
“In order not to delay this support meant for them, Mr Governor directed that a reasonable amount of money be given to each of them. Each of the families and each of the injured, and that is precisely what we have done. “I believe that this will go a long way to bringing relief to the victims.
The incident was unfortunate but to the glory of God many still survived. And many of the relatives of those who died also need support. “So, what the governor has done will assist them to overcome the trauma, both physical and psychological. We were here on Tuesday and we came here again on Thursday to conclude the first round of the exercise. “We believe that as more money comes into the purse which the state government has created for this purpose, we will also be coming back from time to time to disburse more money.”
Earlier, the committee, led by the Chairman and the state’s Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Wale Akinterinwa, had disclosed that the donations ran into millions of naira. Akinterinwa explained that the committee had carefully collated the names of both injured and deceased so as to provide succour for them. He stressed that from the funds received into the account so far, each of the families of the deceased and the injured have been given cash donations. The committee assured that the disbursement will continue when more funds are received into the account.
While stating that the cash gift was part of the series of support given by the governor since the incident occurred, the commissioner equally assured that the committee will make public all the funds received at the end of its assignment.
“On behalf of the Ondo State Government, we want to thank all those who have donated into this account. We thank them for their immense contribution, and God will continue to bless them. “Also, we want to let all members of the public know that the account is still very much open and we are still expecting more donations. It can never be too much. And for those who still want to donate, our account will be made available. If you go to our website, you can still make donations.” Akinterinwa said.