Suspects of Pentecost Sunday Attack “need to be prosecuted now”: Nigerian Catholic Bishop

Altar of St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese. Credit: ACN

Six months after the Pentecost Sunday attack on St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese that left 39 Catholic worshippers killed and more than 80 injured, there have been arrests and promises but no prosecution, Bishop Felix Femi Ajakaye has lamented. 

In a Monday, December 5 statement, the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Ekiti Diocese reacts to the June 5 massacre and urges the relevant authorities in the West African country to go beyond the promises and prosecute the suspects “now”.

“December 5, 2022, is the sixth month of the evil attack, the dead have been buried and their people and other well-wishers are still in sorrowful moods,” Bishop Femi laments in his statement titled, “Nigeria still waiting.”

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop further recalls that “many of the injured are equally traumatized.”

There were “outcries, condemnations and there were promises” made nationally and internationally, he further recalls, and says he finds it regrettable that six months later, Nigerians are still awaiting the outcome of investigations into the massacre.


“More than ever, the people who have been in custody since they were arrested need to be prosecuted now,” Bishop Femi emphasizes. 

The June 5 attack on the Nigerian Catholic Parish involved gunmen who reportedly fired at the Catholic worshippers and detonated explosives. 

On June 17, Ondo Diocese organized a Funeral Mass for the victims of the attack. In his homily during the Eucharistic celebration, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo urged those affected by the Pentecost Sunday tragedy to stand firm in their faith in the person of Jesus Christ.

On June 23, security officials in Nigeria’s Ondo State announced the arrest of some suspects allegedly involved in the June 5 massacre.

On August 11, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, told journalists that four suspects allegedly involved in the attack had been arrested. He identified the suspects as Idris Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Abubakar, Aliyu Itopa, and Auwal Onimisi.

More in Africa

In his December 5 statement, Bishop Femi recalls that “over three months ago, General Irabor told the world that there had been arrests made concerning the Pentecost Sunday attack.”

Making reference to the Gospel of St. Matthew, the 60-year-old Nigerian Bishop who has been at the helm of Ekiti Diocese since April 2010 says, “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: It is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.” 

“General Irabor, Nigeria is still waiting,” he says, adding that the Nigerian security official “needs to give the update on the present situation on Owo Massacre.”

Bishop Femi urges the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to always be “on top of actions, not merely on top of situations.”

“As usual, the Buhari-led government commiserated with the people concerned. Typical of the administration's trademark, it vowed to be on top of the situation and fish out the culprits,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in July 2008 as Coadjutor Bishop of Ekiti Diocese says. 


He adds, “Practically, our wish is for the government to always be on top of the actions, not merely on top of the situations.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.