The Kwara State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Prof. Timothy Opoola, on Tuesday said some female Christians who were returning home after the New Year’s service were raped.
Scores of youths were said to have on Monday attacked Christian and Muslim worship centres after they were prevented from organising a carnival for the New Year.
He said, “During the attack, they chanted Islamic slogans saying, ‘Allah Akbar, this land belongs to Muslims.’ They threw stones and destroyed the windows of the Christ Apostolic Church in the area when they could not gain access.
“In fact, some Christian worshippers returning home were raped. Some of the ladies ran into the Methodist Cathedral naked for safety.
“These Muslim fanatics broke the gate of the cathedral and destroyed the church building and some vehicles.
“The Muslims later moved to St. Joseph Catholic Cathedral and also destroyed the church building. The fundamentalists damaged two statues; those of St. Joseph and the resurrection scene.
“When the fundamentalists entered the cathedral, they robbed the worshippers of their phones, bags and other valuables.
“If the police and other security operatives had acted on time to curtail the unfortunate incident, the magnitude of the destruction would have been minimised.”
Opoola called on the state government to prevent further attacks on churches and Christians in Kwara State, particularly in Ilorin metropolis.
He warned that the Christian community in Kwara State may be forced to defend itself, saying nobody had the monopoly of violence.
But the Chairman, Alfathiu Quarib, Malam Oniye Abdulrasak, said the association had harmonious relationship with the Christian community.
He dissociated the organisation from any attack on any church.
He also commended some Christians who came to the rescue of a Muslim lady that was being raped.
The Vice Chairman, Quareeb Society, Ilorin, Abdulrasak Oniye, had in an interview with journalists said Muslim faithfuls were also attacked.
He added that if it was an attack against Christians, some members of his group would not have fallen victims.
However, the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, assured Kwara State residents of his readiness to deploy the law and public funds to achieve peace, unity and progress in the state.
Ahmed, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, AlhajiAbdulwahab Oba, after separate meetings with the leaderships of CAN, Kwara State chapter, and Quareeb Association, urged religious bodies not to allow “miscreants” to cause disaffections among religious adherents in the state.
Ahmed said, “Anyone who participated directly or indirectly in the public disorder shall be brought to book.
“This state is a state of harmony. We must all work to sustain our cherished peaceful environment. Don’t play into the hands of mischief-makers by labelling the activities of miscreants as a religious issue. The benefits of unity are too many to allow them to slip out of our hands.”
Meanwhile, the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Lawal Ado, said a total of 32 suspects had been arrested for the mayhem.
Parading the suspects on Tuesday, the CP stated that investigations had commenced into the incident.
He added that the suspects would be prosecuted at the end of the investigations.
The CP assured the residents of the state command’s readiness to deal decisively with law-breakers.
In a related development, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has placed N200m bounty on the perpetrators of the Omoku killings.
No fewer than 17 persons lost their lives after gunmen invaded two communities in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of the state on Monday.
Wike spoke on Tuesday after he led the Rivers State Security Council on a visit to the families of the deceased.
The governor also visited those injured during the attack and the scenes of the crime where he was briefed by the police Area Commander of the area, Mr. Mike Nwafor, and the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA Caretaker Chairman, Mr Olisa Osi.
He said, “We have placed N200m reward for information that will lead to the arrest of all those involved in this unfortunate act of violence.
“Anybody who is connected to this crime in any way will have his/her house forfeited to the government. This place has been peaceful before this unfortunate attack.
“We have mobilised security agencies to take the battle to the perpetrators.
“You cannot shed innocent blood and go scot-free. We are working with all the security agencies to do everything possible to arrest the perpetrators. They must pay for this.”
Wike also visited the residence of a wanted cult kingpin, Don Nwanee, where he commended security agencies for working hard to improve on the security of the state.
The Chairman of the LGA, Osi, told the governor that 17 persons lost their lives in the attack.
Some of the victims were named as Favour Odili, Saviour Amirinze, Augustine Ordu, Precious Ordu, Wisdom Ordu, Jennifer Ohia and Innocent Ohia.
Others are Reuben Idogu, Baby Idogu, Ngozi Ogbuanukwu, Oyi Ogadinma, Nwakaego Ogadinma and Uche Onige.
The wife of one of the victims, Prophetess Comfort Ordu, said her husband and three of her children were dragged out of their home and killed by the perpetrators.
Wike was accompanied to Omoku by the Brigade Commander of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. A.A. Bande; the Commander of Joint Task Force, Col. M.N. Madi; the Deputy Commissioner of Police, River State Police Command, Ahmed Magaji, and the state Director, Department of State Services, Mr. Tosin Ajayi.