Catholic Laity in Nigeria Want “urgent arrest” of Those Behind Pentecost Sunday Massacre

Sir Henry Yunkwap, National President Catholic Laity Council (CLC) of Nigeria. Credit: CTV

Those behind the Pentecost Sunday massacre of dozens and injuries of many more at St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese in Nigeria need to be urgently pursued, apprehended, and “dealt with according to the laws of the land”, officials of the Catholic Laity Council (CLC) of Nigeria have said.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Monday, June 6, officials of CLC condemn the June 5 “barbaric act” that involved gunmen who reportedly fired at Catholic worshippers and detonated explosives in the Nigerian Catholic church. Several media in Nigeria have reported the incident, some indicating that many children were among the dead.

In the letter signed by CLC National President, officials of the Catholic lay entity say they are “heartbroken” and find it “very difficult to address my people at this moment knowing fully well that we are yet to recover from the recent murder of our daughter and friend, the late Deborah Samuel by some heartless religious extremists in Sokoto State.”

“As a Christian group and direct mourners of this sad incident, we do not want to only condemn this barbaric act carried out by these animals in human form but use this medium to let the government know that we have taken enough of this killing of our people and we now find it very difficult to chew what they’ve forcefully put in our mouth. The only option left is to throw it out,” CLC officials say in their statement signed by Sir Henry Yunkwap.

“We are indeed tired of words; we want action and the urgent arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of this evil act,” they say, and continue, “Our leaders must rise against just condemning this act by using the over used words like bringing the perpetrators to book.”


Officials of the Catholic lay entity further say that “what the victims want from the government now for their souls to rest in peace, is the assurance that their killers will be arrested and dealt with according to the laws of the land.”

“For any government who cannot provide security for her people, it is indirectly telling them to defend themselves by whatever means they can,” they warn, and urge the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to “see the life of every Nigerian as very important not minding where he or she comes from.”

On the day of the attack, the Director of Social Communications in Ondo Diocese confirmed the massacre and said that the Local Ordinary, Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, was calling on the people of God under his pastoral care to “be law abiding”.

In their June 6 statement, CLC officials say, “While we are making frantic efforts to console our people and also plead with our youth not to take laws in their hands but to abide by the bible injunction, which admonished us, as Christians, to allow God take control and vengeance in all circumstances, … we’ve deliberately refused to identify them by their names but prefer to use ‘unknown gunmen’ when referring to them. This is uncalled for, this is unacceptable at this time.”

“I want to categorically state here again that as believers in Christ Jesus, we are called to be peace loving people and to preach it with both words and actions but that does not mean we shouldn’t be sensitive to happenings around us and take action, when necessary,” the President of the Catholic lay entity in Nigeria says.

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CLC officials add, “To our leaders and to all those who feel they have the monopoly of violence to know that every life is sacred and nobody has the right to take it in whatever way be it under the guise of religion, ethnic or political differences.”

“The crimes committed by those killed were just two; one; they were Christians and secondly because they were in the church on Sunday worshiping God,” they bemoan.

In the statement, Sir Yunkwap says, “I hereby on behalf of the entire Catholic Laity in Nigeria sympathize with the Bishop, Priests and the Laity of Ondo Diocese over this act … Our hearts are with you. We pray for the departed souls and quick recovery to the injured.”

In a June 5 statement, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria condemned the Pentecost Sunday massacre and called on the Federal government to “hunt down” the criminals behind the attack and “bring them to book”.

“The criminals responsible for such a sacrilegious and barbaric act demonstrate their lack of the sense of the sacred and the fear of the God,” members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said. 


They added, “We call on the government to hunt them down and bring them to book. If the government fails to act decisively on such a grave matter, it would be encouraging the descent of anarchy on our nation.”

In another reaction to the massacre, officials of the Catholic Pontifical foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, expressed deep shock and said the incident is part of the “crimes against Christians” in the West African nation.

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.