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‘I climbed fence to escape after being shot’ — Owo attack survivor shares ordeal

Author:
Ebunoluwa Olafusi

Josephine Ojeloni, a victim of the attack on a church in Ondo, said she climbed a fence despite being injured, in order to escape. 

Many worshippers of St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo state, were killed, while several others were injured following an attack by gunmen on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking to journalists at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ojeloni said the mass had barely ended when the gunmen struck.

She said at first, she thought the gunshots were sounds from fireworks.

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“We had finished celebrating mass. Later, we heard gunshots from the back because I was in the middle. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was, but we heard more sounds, then people started running from the back into the church. People were falling down from being shot,” she said.

“I was also running. I got to where I thought I could escape but there was no way, so I fell on top of others. The next thing I saw, I was hit. My leg was finished. But I thank God I am alive. I know it is a question of time; the pain will stop and I will walk with my legs.”

Asked if the victims are receiving adequate medical treatment, she said the medical personnel are “really trying”.

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“They are really trying. They are trying to make sure the injured survive,” she said.

“You can see how my leg is. If you had seen me yesterday, you’d have run away. With the wound on my leg, I still climbed a fence to escape. The flesh was scattered and dropping on the floor as I was moving.”

Benjamin Asogbuwa, another victim receiving treatment at FMC, said despite lying down under the church’s pews, he was still hit by a bullet.

“We were holding service not knowing that the enemies were lurking around,” he said.

“Immediately after the service, just as the reverend father said ‘go in peace’, we started hearing gunshots outside. We thought it was a knockout or a trick. So, one of us went to the door to check what was going on. He saw them coming with guns and everything.

“He closed the door and ran back. While still running, they started shooting again. They entered through the door, the window, shooting and throwing dynamite.

“I was lying under the pew but one leg was outside. The bullet hit me in the leg. The people around me died including a baby of about three. It was horrible. We least expected something like that in the heart of town.”

Asogbuwa called on the federal government to find lasting solution to the insecurity ravaging the country.

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“The government has to sit up about this insecurity issue. It is like we don’t have a country anymore,” he said.

“If at the heart of Owo here, nobody is safe, where do we go? And they are preparing for the election. Is the election for the living or the dead? We are fed up with insecurity. Nobody is safe anywhere anymore. In your home, in the marketplace, when travelling, even in the house of God. It is unbelievable but it happened.

“They should forget about 2023 and save lives now. God is not happy with this country anymore. The leadership has failed us. What is the essence of staying back in this country? What is the essence of the election, and who is it for when everybody is dying every day?”



This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.
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