Two people have been confirmed dead in a stampede at the venue of a prayer service at a church located on Ewenla Street, off Ikotun-Idimu Road in Lagos.
A member who attended the prayer service hosted by Pastor Odekunle Epaphras Prayer Ministries, also known as Olorun Ojiji which holds on the third Thursday of every month says that the service usually attracts a massive crowd of worshippers.
She adds that trouble started after the crowd waiting for the second service scrambled to enter the venue immediately after the first service ended without allowing the first set of worshippers to exit the venue, leading to a stampede
Confirming the incident, the Lagos state command spokesman Benjamin Hundeyin explain that five unconscious persons were rushed to the hospital front the Scene of the stampede, three were resuscitated while two persons were confirmed dead.
Other members claim that when the church initially started to host the service at the expansive facility, it conducted only one service, it later increased the services to three as attendance grew rapidly.
The Host, Pastor Odekunle Epaphras was immediately taken into custody at the Ikotun Police Station but was later released on bail.
The Chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum, however, said “we take solace in the Divine even as we hold the assurance that light will always prevail in the end. May the souls of the departed requiescat in pace.”
We have failed to defend these people. Not because we have not tried. But because these forces on the other side are evil.
We take solace in the Divine even as we hold the assurance that light will always prevail at the end. May the souls of the departed requiescat in pace. pic.twitter.com/GhzNhRMYZe
The National security Council has blamed the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) for the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, that led to the death of about 38 persons on June 5.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said this on Thursday while briefing State House Correspondents after the National Security Council meeting in Abuja.
He disclosed that security agencies, particularly the police, have been directed to apprehend the perpetrators. The former governor said the attack has no ethnic-religious connection, affirming that the group’s activity has nothing to do with religion.
The council, according to him, is also concerned about killings in the name of blasphemy and has directed the security agencies to go after perpetrators of the incidents that occurred in Sokoto State and Abuja recently.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba equally noted the imprints of the perpetrators of the Owo killings have been identified and although no arrests have been made, security agencies are now zeroing in on them.
The meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, was held less than a week after scores of persons were killed in the attack and several others wounded.
In a recent meeting, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State said 40 persons died in the incident while 26 survivors have been discharged from hospitals in the area.
“The figure I have now shows that 127 persons were involved and that the number of death now is 40. On admission receiving treatment, we have 61. Twenty-six have been discharged,” he said on Wednesday when he hosted Catholic Bishops from the South-West led by Most Reverend Leke Abegunrin.
“Those are the figures we have now from the Commissioner for Health. So, the government is not hiding anything.”
The leader of a Mexican mega-church who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three young girls was sentenced in Los Angeles on Wednesday to nearly 17 years in prison.
But the ruling, following a plea deal Naason Joaquin Garcia struck with prosecutors last week, was met with anger by victims, who at an emotional hearing called for their abuser to face trial and the maximum possible sentence.
One victim in court Wednesday condemned officials for “negotiating with this rapist” while another said in a statement read to the court that the justice system “failed us.”
Garcia, head of the La Luz Del Mundo church which claims five million followers worldwide, coerced underage girls into performing sexual acts by telling them that going against his wishes would be acting against God, prosecutors said.
He was arrested at a Los Angeles airport in June 2019. An initial human trafficking and child rape case was thrown out on a technicality, and charges were re-filed.
Last Friday, on the eve of his trial, the 53-year-old — who claims to be the last apostle of Jesus, and had initially denied all wrongdoing — pleaded guilty to felony crimes of sexual assault of three minors.
These included forcible oral copulation and a lewd act upon a 15-year-old, but not counts of rape, extortion and child pornography.
California attorney general Rob Bonta hailed the sentence as a “critical step forward for justice.”
“While it will never undo the harm and trauma he caused as the leader of La Luz del Mundo, this sentence makes it crystal clear that abusers — no matter who they are — will be held accountable,” he said Wednesday.
Still, Garcia’s church continued to back its leader, issuing a statement Wednesday to “publicly express our support for the Apostle of Jesus Christ” and praising his “integrity, his conduct and his work.”
The Spanish-language statement said evidence against Garcia had been fabricated and that the leader had no choice but to strike a deal as he would not have received a “fair and just” trial.
In court, one victim who said Garcia had stolen both her virginity and her faith begged the judge to “make sure that this man is put away for life.”
The Ondo State Police Command has ordered an investigation into the attack on a Catholic church in Owo town, the headquarters of Owo Local Government Area of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued by the spokesman of the command Odunlami Funmilayo, hours after assailants killed many and injured several others at St Francis Catholic Church on Sunday.
‘…the CP has equally ordered Forensic Investigation into the attack to ascertain the actual or remote cause(s) of the attack and for immediate arrest of the assailants as all hands are on deck to forestall any similar attack in any part of the state,” the spokesman said in the Sunday statement.
While narrating how the incident happened, the police image maker explained that the attack took place in the early hours of the day.
“Today, Sunday 5th June 2022 at about 11:30 am, while the Church service was ongoing, some armed men invaded the church and attacked members of the church, where some lives were lost and some sustained varying degrees of injuries,” the statement issued on behalf of the Ondo Police Commissioner Oyediran Oyeyemi read.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the assailants approached the church during the service, and started shooting from outside the church while others numbering about 4 (four) shot directly into the church.
“The CP while commiserating with the Church, families of the deceased, the people of Owo and Ondo State Government, has ordered immediate deployment of armed and specialised policemen to the area to restore normalcy and fortify the entire community.”
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the attack on St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, describing it as “outrageous” just as it called for an overhaul of the country’s security architecture.
CAN’s comment was contained in a statement issued by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Media Assistant to the CAN President, His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle.
“The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the unprovoked attacks and killing of several innocent worshippers at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, and called on the security agencies to apprehend the perpetrators of the dastardly criminality,” the statement said about Sunday’s incident which led to many deaths and injuries.
“This is sad, wrong, condemnable, outrageous, unacceptable, and satanic. There is no explanation for this unprovoked attack and assault on a place of worship. This is raw persecution. These people are possessed, and demonic and are not working for the good of the country. May God descend heavily on them and fight them mindless agents of Satan from their roots in Jesus’ name.
“We are once again reiterating our quest for a total overhauling of the security architecture and are asking President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the recycling of those criminals and terrorists in the name of de-radicalising programme. If the programme is not counterproductive, how come the criminalities are always on the increase and nowhere is safe again.”
It also condoled with the families of the victims, the Catholic Church and the government and people of Ondo State over the incident.
The Christian umbrella body also lamented about the rising state of insecurity in the country and accused politicians of being interested in the next election instead of seeking a permanent solution to it.
“This menace of insecurity has gotten out of hands and is embarrassingly sore. Criminals are operating with impunity all over the country and unfortunately, our government appears to be so busy with the 2023 general election that it has no time for the unending killings in the country,” the CAN statement read.
“We call on the State Governors to meet with the President to find the lasting solution to these killings. Issuing mere press statements of condemnations and what looks like empty threats is apparently not a way out of it,” it added.
“CAN commiserates with all the bereaved, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), and the Ondo State Government.”
READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
CAN Press Statement OWO CARNAGE: No Explanation For the Carnage The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the unprovoked attacks and killing of several innocent worshippers at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, and called on the security agencies to apprehend the perpetrators of the dastardly criminality. This is sad, wrong, condemnable, outrageous, unacceptable, and satanic. There is no explanation for this unprovoked attack and assault on a place of worship. This is raw persecution. These people are possessed, and demonic, and are not working for the good of the country. May God descend heavily on them and fight them mindless agents of Satan from their roots in Jesus’ name. We are once again reiterating our quest for a total overhauling of the security architecture and are asking President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the recycling of those criminals and terrorists in the name of de-radicalising programme. If the programme is not counterproductive, how come the criminalities are always on the increase and nowhere is safe again. This menace of insecurity has gotten out of hand and is embarrassingly sore. Criminals are operating with impunity all over the country and unfortunately, our government appears to be so busy with the 2023 general election that it has no time for the unending killings in the country. What legacy is the government and those who are the managers of our security architecture leaving behind for the unborn generation? We are praying for the government and the security agencies to get it right before it will be too late. If the Federal government is not interested in the State Police, what efforts are being put in place to arrest this unpleasant situation? We call on the State Governors to meet with the President to find the lasting solution to these killings. Issuing mere press statements of condemnations and what looks like empty threats is apparently not a way out of it. CAN commiserates with all the bereaved, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), and the Ondo State Government. Signed Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Media Assistant to the CAN President, His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle. 5 June 2022.
It was gathered that guests began arriving the Polo Club as early as 6:30am for the event slated for 9am, but met the gate locked.
However, at about 8am, some sports men arrived and opened the small entrance to have their training session, only for the crowd to see it as an opportunity to access the tent that was mounted by the church for the program.
A similar incident in December 2020 also claimed some lives when a crowd gathered for a Christmas palliative organized by an online sales platform in Port Harcourt.
Jackson held out for more than a week as gunfire ripped through his poor neighborhood in the Haitian capital, hoping help would come to end the bloody turf war between rival gangs.
“For eight days, the bursts of bullets flew non-stop but we thought that the police were going to intervene,” he said.
But the police never showed. So like thousands of others, 29-year-old Jackson — taking nothing but the clothes he was wearing — fled his home.
The United Nations said Friday that clashes between rival gangs in the downtrodden slums of northern Port-au-Prince have claimed the lives of at least 75 people, including women and children, since all-out war started on April 24.
The world body said it was “deeply concerned by the rapid deterioration of the security situation” in the city.
“According to multiple sources, at least 75 people, including women and children, have been killed and 68 others injured,” the UN statement said.
It added that at least 9,000 residents of the conflict-hit northern suburbs have been forced to flee their homes and take refuge with relatives or in temporary shelters such as churches and schools.
Jackson held out until last Sunday. He was just returning from church when the fighting came right to his door.
“I didn’t know that the members of the ‘400 mawozo’ gang had managed to cross the bridge” next to his home, Jackson said, referring to the most feared of all the gangs.
“Suddenly I heard neighbors yelling ‘They’re at Shada crossroads’, which meant they were 30, 40 meters from me. I had my identity card, my driver’s license, and my insurance card on me. I took my passport and ran out,” he said.
As he passed a nearby gas station, he saw gang members accusing the motorcycle taxi drivers who were parked thereof being lookouts for a rival gang. “So they shot them,” Jackson said.
For decades, armed gangs have run amok in the poorest neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, but they have drastically increased their hold across the Haitian capital and the country at-large in recent years, sending murders and kidnappings skyrocketing.
The UN has denounced the “extreme violence” of the gangs, saying local sources recorded “acts of sexual violence, including the gang rape of children as young as 10 years, and the terrorization and intimidation of the local populations living in areas controlled by rival gangs.”
The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, has warned of the gangs’ impact on children’s education.
“In Haiti, 500,000 children have lost access to education due to gang-related violence,” it said on Friday. “Nearly 1,700 schools are currently closed in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince.”
“No child can go to school while bullets are flying in the air, it’s dangerous and it shouldn’t be like this,” said Bruno Maes, the UNICEF representative to Haiti.
The UN office in Haiti has also expressed concern over children being recruited into the armed gangs.
The Haitian government has not yet commented on the latest outbreak of violence which has placed the capital in a state of siege, preventing any safe exit by road to the rest of the country.
Last October, the powerful “400 Mawozo” gang abducted a group of 17 North American missionaries and their relatives, including five children.
The district where the violence has been centered is highly strategic: it contains the only road access to the country’s north as well as between Haiti’s capital and the Dominican Republic.
Since June, authorities have also lost control of the only road connecting Port-au-Prince to the south. For a stretch of two kilometers (1.2 miles), the highway is completely under the control of armed criminals from the slums of Martissant.
Gangs in Martissant have also forced Doctors Without Borders, an international medical nonprofit, to close a hospital it had been running there for 15 years.
Global megachurch Hillsong announced Wednesday that its co-founder Brian Houston had resigned after complaints of impropriety were made against him by two women.
The first complaint arose from “inappropriate text messages” that Houston sent to a woman who worked in the church, which led to her resignation, the church’s board said in a statement.
Church leadership said that at the time Houston “was under the influence of sleeping tablets, upon which he had developed a dependence”.
The second incident occurred during the megachurch’s annual conference in 2019, when a “disorientated” Houston entered a woman’s hotel room while under the influence “of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol”.
The church’s board said Wednesday that “irrespective of the circumstances around” Houston’s resignation, both he and his wife — Hillsong’s co-founder Bobbie Houston — “have served God faithfully over many decades”.
Founded by Brian and Bobbie in Sydney in the 1980s, Hillsong has grown from its Australian roots into a global megachurch, which claims an average weekly attendance of 150,000 people.
The church is known for its rock concert-style services that feature pop music and high-profile special guests, including Justin Bieber and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Houston’s resignation from Hillsong comes as he readies to face trial over the charge that he covered up his father’s alleged child sexual abuse.
Houston was charged last year with concealing information from police about child abuse by his father, Frank, who was also a pastor and died in 2004.
Frank Houston had been accused of sexually abusing a young boy while a preacher in the 1970s.
A royal commission in 2015 found the younger Houston was told about the allegations in 1999 but failed to report them to authorities, which sparked a police investigation into him.
Houston has pleaded not guilty and said it is his “intention to vigorously defend” himself against the charges.
In a statement on the dating site, users of the platform were advised to carry out their due diligence before connecting with other participants.
“The Redeemed Christian Church of God, City of David Parish makes no representations or warranties and expressly disclaims any and all liability concerning any damages sustained by any registrant as a result of connecting with anyone on this platform,” the disclaimer added.
In a video on its Facebook page, the Parish Pastor, Idowu Iluyomade, said people on the platform are of varying ages.
“We have from ages 20, 25 to 65,” Pastor Idowu noted in the social media post.
The platform is already organising virtual masterclasses for participants where it teaches about key ingredients for a successful marriage.