Some Suspects of Pentecost Sunday Attack on Catholic Church in Nigeria Arrested: Governor

Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network

Some of the suspects of the Pentecost Sunday attack on St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Nigeria’s Ondo Diocese that left 39 worshippers killed and more than 80 injured have been arrested, the Governor of Ondo State in the West African country has confirmed.

In a Tuesday, August 9 report, Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has confirmed the arrest of five suspects who include the person who allegedly housed the suspected attackers before they implemented their June 5 attack on the Owo Catholic Church. 

“Now that the military has announced it, I can tell you that five of them have been arrested now. They are still on the trail of the rest,” Governor Akeredolu is quoted as saying when officials of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) paid him a courtesy visit.

The Governor of Ondo State told NUJ officials that security agents had located “the home where they lodged in Owo” adding that “the person that accommodated them before the attack, has also been arrested.”

“We did not spare a moment. I am happy that the Chief of Defense Staff has announced it,” he said, and continued, “We have known for a while but we needed not to come out with it because more work is still ongoing. I can confirm that this arrest has been made. And they are still on the trail of some of them.”


In a June 23 press conference, the Ondo State Commander of the Security Network Agency that is known as “Amotekun Corps” told journalists that all suspects linked to the Pentecost Sunday attack on the Catholic Church would eventually 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 told journalists during the June 23 press conference.

He said, “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 Commander said while parading some 71 men who were arrested for various criminal activities across Ondo State.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, Fr. Andrew Adeniyi Abayomi  recounted his experience of the June 5 attack, saying, “I was still in the sanctuary. I had finished the Mass and was putting incense in the thurible, to prepare for the procession outside the church. That was when I heard a noise.”

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“I thought it was a door slamming, or that someone had fallen, or seen a snake, because that has happened before,” Fr. Abayomi who is an Associate Pastor at St. Francis Xavier church told ACN International in a report shared with ACI Africa June 15.

He continued, “But then I heard a second loud noise, and I saw parishioners running in different directions in the church. I stood there in shock, wondering what was going on, when someone ran to me, yelling: ‘Father, unknown gunmen!’” 

At that point, the Nigerian Catholic Priest went on to recount, “I did not fear for my life, rather, I was thinking how to save my parishioners.”

“Some of them summoned the courage to lock the entrance door. I urged people to move through the sanctuary into the sacristy. Some of the parishioners escaped through there. I remained in the inner part of the sacristy. I could not run as I was surrounded by children, while some adults clung to me, some even inside my chasuble. I shielded them just as a hen shields her chicks,” Fr. Abayomi further recounted. 

“I heard the voices of my parishioners: ‘Father, please save us; Father, pray!’”, he recalled, adding, “I encouraged them and calmed them, and said they should not worry, that I was praying, and that God would do something.”


“I heard three or four explosions, one after the other. The whole attack was well planned and lasted about 20-25 minutes,” Fr. Abayomi told ACN, and added, “We got a message that the attackers had gone. We left the sacristy and I saw that some of the parishioners were dead, while many were injured.”

In his homily during the Funeral Mass for the victims of the Pentecost Sunday massacre, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo urged those affected by the June 5 attack to “refuse to be crushed by the tragedy”.

The June 5 incident “catapulted the Catholic Church in Owo, the Catholic Diocese of Ondo and Ondo State of Nigeria into the limelight of world attention, unfortunately for the very wrong reasons,” Bishop Badejo said.

“Since then, the entire world has condemned the crime perpetrated against humanity and against God in this State,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop added.

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders in the Federal and State governments in the West African country “to wake up, sit up and act up to secure life and property all over Nigeria.” 

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Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.