Suspected Masterminds of Pentecost Sunday Massacre in Ondo Diocese, Nigeria, Arrested

Some of the suspects presented on 23 June 2022 in Nigeria's Ondo State. Credit: Amotekun Ondo State/Facebook

Security officials in Nigeria’s Ondo State have reportedly arrested some suspects allegedly involved in 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.

In a Thursday, June 23 press conference, the Ondo State Commander of the Security Network Agency, known as “Amotekun Corps”, told journalists that all suspects linked to the June 5 tragic incident will be arrested.

“As regards the Owo incident, we have recovered the last vehicle they used for that operation and we made some arrests and we have also recovered some vital things which we are working on,” Adetunji Adeleye has been quoted as telling journalists during the June 23 press conference.

He added, “A number of people have been arrested concerning the Owo issue as well as a number of equipment.”

“On that day, we pursued them to the point that we recovered the vehicle and we are still pursuing them,” the Amotekun commander said while parading some 71 men who were arrested for various criminal activities across the Nigerian State.


More arrests are to be made, he told journalists, and emphasized, “We have told you that until we get to the root, I can assure you that the perpetrators and their sponsors will be brought to book.”

Mr. Adeleye went on to explain the reasons for one of the 71 suspects paraded at the headquarters of the command in Akure, Ondo State capital, saying, they “were picked while committing offenses and others were tracked to their hideouts in the forests.”

“We have been able to get a cartel that specializes in stealing and dismantling motorbikes which we all know as okada. Also, we were able to recover over 50 bikes during the operation from these criminals,” the Ondo State official further said.

He continued, “We also got reports from some herdsmen that their cattle were stolen. We went after them and brought the cows back to the Fulani herdsmen that owned the cow.”

“We have a group of small boys who are under 18 years old that turned themselves into a cartel of criminals in a particular local government in Ondo State and armed themselves. They actually belong to a cult group called ‘Agbado’. We were able to arrest 12 out of the 17 members,” the Amotekun commander told journalists.

More in Africa

He added, “We have about three to four suspected kidnappers and we intend to take most of these suspects, especially the ones we have concluded their investigations to the DPP and for their onward prosecution in court.”

Mr. Adeleye said that the security agents in the Nigerian State “would not rest on its oars until it rids the state of criminal elements.”

“There is no hiding place for them. They turned the heat on us and we have also turned the heat on them,” he said.

On June 5, 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”.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the spilling of innocent blood in the House of God,” the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said in a statement dated June 5.


Archbishop Lucius Ugorji added, “The criminals responsible for such a sacrilegious and barbaric act demonstrate their lack of the sense of the sacred and the fear of God.”

He called on the State and Federal governments “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.”

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 June 5 tragedy to stand firm in their faith in the person of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Badejo called on President Buhari and other leaders in the Federal Government and State governments “to wake up, sit up and act up to secure life and property all over Nigeria.” 

“I urge leaders at every level to listen to the cry for help of the people they claim to serve, shun discrimination and hypocrisy and do their duty. The present situation must not continue so that people may not resort to self-help and kill this country entirely,” Bishop Badejo said.

(Story continues below)

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.