From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure

Chairman, South West Governors Forum and Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, has warned bandits to steer clear of the South West geo political zone as the Yoruba people of the region will not allow a repeat of the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo where no fewer than 44 persons were gruesomely murdered in broad day light and 87 badly injured.

The governor declared that the people of South West will not tolerate another unprovoked attack on the region, under any guise.

Governor Akeredolu said the people of Ondo State and South West region at large have always come to the country in peace and unity.

He spoke yesterday at the Government House, Akure, while receiving the governors of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun; Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and Kwara State, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.

The governors were in the state to pay condolence visit to Governor Akeredolu, over the June 5, 2022 terror attack in Owo.

The immediate past govrnor of Ogun state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, also joined the entourage.

Governor Akeredolu, who described the Owo attack as one too gruesome, noted that the people of the South West region have always maintained peace and unity of the country.

He thanked the governors for their solidarity, while describing their visit as not just symbolic, but important.

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“We are part of this country and we have always come to this country in peace and we have maintained peace. We have been trying to maintain Nigeria because we believe in Nigeria. Let someone point to an incident in which we left our enclave or we left this peaceful environment and went to cause problems in other places. Let them tell us. We have come to this country in peace and now people want to visit us with war. You want to maim and kill us; it is not easy.

“It is a dreadful assault. I said to people that if we were at war and we were armed and faced ourselves, in one day, 40 people would not die from our side. But this is not war, we were not at war.

“This is an assault on us, on our psyche. We cannot continue this way. We believe in this place, we believe in southwestern region, we believe in Yoruba. Is Yoruba part of the Nigeria we believe in? Yes.

“But I thank you for your solidarity. You have come all the time and we have always worked together, all of us.

“If you get to the scene, I’m sure it will bring tears out of your eyes. These criminals, who are animals in human skin, what they did was horrendous. They did not come to kidnap, they did not come to steal, they took no dime. They went into the church and shot at everything within their sight,” the governor lamented.

Earlier, Ogun state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who spoke on behalf of others, said the attack was not just on the good people of Owo and Ondo State, but the entire people of the South West region.

The governors announced the donation of N25 million each, totalling N75 million for the victims of the attack.

The governors disclosed that the region would soon meet to take a position to further consolidate and improve the security architecture in the zone.