St Francis Xavier church wearing a new look 11 months After.

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/ Radio Nigeria


Wailing ,Crying,And Scrambling of children names enveloped the atmosphere of St Francis Xavier church Owo after gunmen invaded the church at the closing of the Mass

5th of June 2022 was a day best described by Yoruba proverbs as “Tina ba Joni ,Jo Omo Eni,tara Eni La Koko gbondanu” ,If you are caught in a fire incident as a mother ,you will look for a way out then rescue your children afterward”

“I was on my wheelchair in the front row of the church when the armed men came into the Church,the pillet of the gun pierced my chair everything scattered’ Mrs Titilayo Adejogun stated

Mrs TitilayAdejogun in the first Row

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/ Radio Nigeria


This was the scenario that played out a year Ago when the biggest catholic church in owo, Ondo State, Saint Francis Xavier came under terror attack as it rounded up it’s closing mass, with sounds of heavy shooting and bombing rented the air.

By the time the shooting subsided,about one hundred worshipers had been killed or fatally wounded in the brutal attack.

Preliminary findings indicates that nearly eighty percent of the victims were women and children

In this investigation, olufisoye Adenitan of Radio Nigeria uncover the hopeless story of some of the female Survivors who continue to nurse pains one year after the massacre

My life has stoodstill -Olayinka Rasheedat Adeseluka

Mrs Olayinka Rasheedat Adeseluka a born Muslim , 48 years old mother of 3 boys,who became a catholic by marriage Seventeen years ago has been bedridden for the past one year having suffered severe Spinal injury from gunshots from the massacre .

Mrs Olayinka Adeseluka / May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/ Radio Nigeria

Her two legs have paralysed while she has been placed on carteter. and diaper for her excretion and urination

During my visit to her house at olaoluwa Idashen street Owo,I met her on the bed been guarded with pillows to provide support and comfort, immediately I asked about what life has mearnt after the attack ,She bursted into tears .

Mrs Olayinka Adeseluka

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/ Radio Nigeria


Checking through her medical report issued by the University college Hospital Ibadan and Federal Medical Centre Owo reads with an explanation that pillets of bullets still hid in parts of her body

medical Report

Mrs Adeseluka struggled to narrate her ordeal with tears
“I am the secretary of catholic women Organisation,Saint Francis Xavier church Owo,after I was admitted at FMC Owo and refered to be operated upon at University College Hospital UCH.Ibadan before I came back home bedridden” she said

When asked about how the incidence has affected her source of livelihood,Mrs Adeseluka who worked as a school bursar, and business woman mentioned that life had stood still for her and she had become a liability to the family and expressed regret for going to Church the day of the incidence.

She showed a copy of letters written to the Catholic Diocese of ondo on her plight to seek medical trip abroad but had not received any positive response.

“I daily see life as not worth living. The pains are too unbearable, I just want to die. I have pleaded with my family to allow me go and rest. This is too much for me”. Mrs Adeseluka lamented.

On the day of the massacre.it was like a movie until everything turned out to be a reality ,I was also scrambling with other women for safety when I saw the door of the church pull down by Heavy sounds ,where I was lying ,two gunshot at different times penetrated my back ,I thought it was the end of my journey on earth she narrated.

My family has been shattered since the attack happened -Mr Adeseluka Dapo,(Husband of the woman with spinal injury

The middle aged man married Olayinka 17 years ago and the marriage produced 3 boys ,out of which the last child of about 9 years .

“After the Owo attack my wife had been bedridden ,she suffers spinal cord injury and she has lost stimulus from waist to the limbs ,our children now live with my wife’s younger sister because nobody will take care of my children ,I work far away in Ido Ekiti , Ekiti state ,I have written letters of Assistance to flown my wife abroad to the bishop and the government but till now ,no response in this matter ” Mr Adeseluka said .

I have accepted this reality

Mrs Margaret Attah Nurse Amputee

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria

Mrs Margaret Attah’s story was a bit different, she was at Saint Francis church Owo on June 5th 2022 with her husband,Children and mother in law.

A 44 year old mother of 3 children and a nurse had her two legs amputated and her left eye ruptured due to the impact of the dynamite threw to the side she was hiding during the attack her children and husband survived the attack

“I worked with general hospital Owo before the incidence but for the past eleven months have been nursing the wound of the attack” Mrs Attah Lamented

“I receive compensation in batches from government while in hospital sometimes 100,000
But the last I received was 500,000, out of which I procured artificial eye of 180,000, prothesis was given to me.

Radio Nigeria met with her in the balcony of her house where she was sitting on her wheel chair ,I can not deceive you, life has been very tough ,Speaking on how it affected her marriage,life has been tough ,I depend on my husband and children for survival” Mrs Attah Lamented

 Mrs Attah and her family

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria

*What can we do than to result to faith*

Angered Mr Dominic Attah

“The experience has been draining for my family ,I practically do everything in the family ,I cook ,prepare the children for school do the cleaning and it’s overwhelming for me” Mr Attah stated

mrs Attah standing on her prothesis

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/ Radio Nigeria

The attack has affected my back and Ear ,I can’t engage in hard labour again

Mrs John Blessing

Groundnut seller ,Blessing John and children

May 2023  Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria

A middle aged woman blessing John , groundnut seller and devoted member of the Catholic church Owo was in the church with her husband the day the incident happened

She was in church heavily pregnant and with her other four children ,one was sitting beside her while others were scattered around immediately the attackers came into the Church .

Mrs John blessing,who also farm to earn a living fend for the family with her petty business before the incidence.
She is traumatised and has severe injury that has limited her from engaging in hard labour ,one of her ears is damaged with other injuries on her back

“I was pregnant during the attack ,I came to church with four children and carrying pregnancy,I sustained injury alongside with my little boy during attack but after the attack and free treatment received from saint Louis hospital Owo ,out of the sum of 500,000 given to me by government I gave my husband 200,000 for farming ” I can’t engage in hard labour again ,Mrs John noted

Glady Chinedu Odeize

May 2023, Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria

My baby is battling cataract in the left eye from the attack

She is traumatised and suffering ear impairment due to the volume of heavy sounds orchestrated by the dynamite during the attack.Although she was pregnant but unlucky to have her baby delivered with catarrh on the left eye due to the shock.

Glady Odeize was not compensated with any fund neither was she given free treatment until her parent came to relocate her to Akoko area of the state for proper care

“When I gave birth to my baby,Doctor told me that the baby has catarrh in that left eye due to the trauma I suffered ,the baby boy was referred to UCH.ibadan for medical treatment ,no fund to take him to the hospital ,I reported my case to the Reverend Father ,he said there is nothing he can do “Glady odeize said .

Mrs Okoye Anthonia
*One of my ear is damaged*

For Mrs Okoye said she was in church on that beautiful Sunday but was lucky to have escaped to the altar side where their attackers threw dynamite and the pieces entered her ears and since then she has been battling ear impairment.

She was treated free at the hospital but she was never compensated.

What a Terrifying day
Mrs Adejogun TitilayoPhysically challenged

My wheel chair got damaged and nobody compensated me in anyway
I procured another myself

Mrs Titilayo Adejogun had an accident in the year 2020 and has since been confided on wheelchair , she was in the church alongside her sisters daughter.

mrs TitilayAdejogun with her niece

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria

I escaped the attack unhurt but lost my wheel chair to the gunshot while her niece escaped to the mission house

Onowa Benjamin
I lost my parents in the attack

Mr and Mrs Deborah and chukwudi onuoha 48years and 52 years had 12 children and died in the attack

According to their son ,Onowa Benjamin the family was compensated with 500 ,000 after the church procured coffin for the dead.

Benjamin lost his parents in the attack

May 2023/Olufisoye/Adenitan Radio Nigeria

lost our breadwinner to the attack ,it has been very tough on the family ,I can’t quantified the loss ,my siblings are still very young “Onowa Benjamin recounted .

Okefi Florence 15 year old girl.

My mother died in the attack

Lost her 56 year old mother ,who is a breadwinner of the family,Mrs Cordelia okefi who left behind 5 children

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria

She said life had never be the same for them considering the role she played in fending for the family always

In a Sober Mood ,The priest of Saint Francis church Owo ,Reverend Father Michael Abugan said the people involved in the attack should accept it as the will of God

Reverend Father Michael Abugan ,Priest St Francis Xavier church

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria

“About 42 survivors were compensated in the attack by the church and the fund generated from philanthropist donations during the attack was used to renovate the church and also building a cenotaph for the dead victims” Father Abugan

Radio Nigeria corespondent also asked about the plight of victims who are still battling to recover their lives and wellbeing ,Father Abugan mentioned that the women should accept the reality of the condition and have faith in God for healing

Reaching out to clarified the prothesis issues with the company supplier in ibadan ,high rise international healthcare limited the Lead spokesperson and prothesis trainer ,Mr Femi Ajiboye ” The Quotation of the prothesis ordered for Mrs Attah by the government and WHO was the
Modular Above knee prosthesis with a, silicone liner and shuttle lock system , *aluminum*/ *titanium* hydraulic/pneumatic knee system and a high profile dynamic foot
(Activity grade level 3) at the cost of 2.950,000 Each

Photo by Femi Ajiboye /Ibadan

“Professionally the prothestis is good and suitable for her use ,just that she needs more training to get use to it and proper management of it .Mr Ajiboye stated.

A medical Doctor who was on ground on the day of the attack to provide emergency medical support to victims ,Reverend sister Titi Abe mentioned that the everyone inside the church suffered psychological trauma from the attack and they needed therapy to overcome the psychological trauma experienced.

File photo :St Louis hospital Owo

About Seventy Seven injured patients with various degrees of injuries were treated at saintlouishospitalowo.women and children were the major casualty but the medical response was prompt with quality response from health workers and medical facilities were mobilised by the state government and the World Health Organisation country Representative .Reverend sister Abe noted .

“Most of the women and children suffered Ear impairment occasioned by the sudden blast and sporadic Gunshot experienced during the attack ,Reverend sister Abe added”

Immediately after the attack,political leaders , Philanthropists ,WHO and Social crusaders condemned the attack and promised to give succour to parishioners involved in the attack.

Several Millions of Naira was donated to the government and the church and the government promised free medical treatment as well as support to the victims of the attack .

On the 7th of September Three months after the attack ,Government donated cash and other relief materials to the victims of attack

In an exclusive interview ,the ondo Commissioner for Health and member of Donation committee set up by Government for the saint Francis church attack ,Dr Banji Awolowo Ajaka highlighted number of victims to be 41 deaths and 91sustained varies degrees of injuries .

It was like a pandemic for Ondo state ,but the emergency response was prompt ,we have supported the victims with funds and relief materials ,Regular checkup on them ,cash gift in batches and clearing of their medical bills by government.Dr Ajaka stated

File photo Dr Banji Ajaka

W.H.O supported ondo state and the country Director was in the state for months for an on spot assessment of the situation .

Alot of funds were received by Philanthropists,we will published every details of how the money received were spent, Government is trying to be transparent about the process and ensure no stone is let unturned.

Considering the fact that women and children were the major casualty ,Asking the commissioner about the lens in which the donation were shared ,maybe women were given preferential treatment than others “No, we didn’t give preference to any gender ,we just felt everyone is involved not minding different injuries suffered ,we did everything equally ”

Terror Attack like that of the Saint Francis church Owo can be related to September 21st,2013. Nairobi Kenya shopping mall centre attack in which at least 67 people were killed while the attack was perpetrated by the Islamic group Al-Shabab in response to kenya ‘s Military operations in Somalia .

Similarly months after that Owo church attack ,Nigeria Chief of Defence Staff , General Lucky Irabor claimed that the attack was perpetrated by the Isamic state of west Africa province,ISWAP ,Till now no justice have been served .

According UK Counter Terrorism policing Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgency attacks began in 2002 in Nigeria global threat from terrorism.

Most attacks witnessed in Nigeria were conducted by Boko Haram or Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) and occur in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States in the North East. There have also been significant attacks in other states, including in Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Bauchi and Taraba States.

Since May 2022 Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) have conducted a number of attacks in Kogi, Niger, and in the Federal Capital Territory.

Public places where crowds gather have been targeted in the past, including places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, football viewing centres, displacement camps, transport terminals (including train networks), government buildings, security and educational institutions (schools, further education colleges and universities are all regular targets), and international organisations.

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria

9th of April 2023 ,Ten months after the Attack on the Saint Francis Xavier church Owo was reopened with a new look of renovation and the Construction of Cenotaph directly opposite the church in honour of the dead victims .

Construction of Cenotaph by the church for the dead victims in the attack

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria


As part of claims by the ondo state commissioner for heath ,Dr Ademola Awolowo Ajaka,Government is building a memorial park in honour of those who lost their lives in the attack for future references.

Construction of Cenotaph by Government in rememberance of dead victims .

May 2023 Olufisoye Adenitan/Radio Nigeria

We as a government will celebrate the memories of the dead through the construction of a memorial park in honour of the departed soul .Dr Ajaka stated.

It is hope that in cases of crisis ,conflict women would be given special consideration because most of this gender are the bread winners of their homes and they faced difficulty and love with the scars forever in their lifetime .

This Story is supported by Wole Soyinka Centre For Investigative Journalism Under The Report Women! Female Reporters Leadership Programme

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