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Akeredolu Makes U-Turn, Says 40 People Died In Ondo Church Attack

Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu yesterday put the number of persons that died following gunmen attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State last Sunday at 40, higher than the 22 he had announced the previous day.

Akeredolu had on Tuesday night during a statewide broadcast to the people of the state disclosed that 80 persons were involved in the Sunday attack.

He had also said 22 people lost their lives to the horrific attack while 56 survivors were on admission at the Federal Medical Center, Owo, St Louis Hospital, Owo and the Owo General Hospital as well as some private hospitals and two have been discharged.

However, yesterday, Akeredolu while playing host to a team of Catholic Bishops from the South-west led by Most Reverend Leke Abegunrin, in Owo, noted that 127 persons were involved in the attack, while 61 survivors were still on admission in different hospitals.

He also disclosed that 26 persons have been discharged while 40 persons died.

The governor added that the new figure followed the harmonisation of the reports from the various hospitals including the private ones, urged the people to discountenance the figures earlier rolled out.

Also, Akeredolu assured that the state government would provide land in a good environment for mass burial of the victims of the Owo terror attack.

He said: “What we witnessed in Owo on that Sunday, I have been looking for a word to describe it, but I’m not too sure I can find one because it is indescribable. There is no word to describe it.

“If you say horrific, dastardly, horrendous, all those ones are common words and we use them for many things.

“But I have been looking for a better word to use because we have witnessed barbaric elements, animals in human skin. If they are human, they would not have done what they did. May be there are areas where they will do such a thing and they would not be worried. But here, we are worried because it is not something we are used to. Human life means a lot to us.

“That is why one is moved. We will have a Memorial Park here where those who died in the attack will be buried. My Bishop sir, we will find a good place as a Memorial Park. It will also be my suggestion that even if there are people who have retrieved their family or members of their family, we must still have a symbolic grave there for them. And it will be there forever, it is not something we can forget and we should never forget it.”

On the latest figures, the governor said, “the medical team led by the Commissioner for Health has sent figure to us, and it is slightly different. What I put out during my address on the broadcast to the state was wrong and we must accept it.

“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; 26 have been discharged. Those are the figures we have now from the commissioner for Health. So, government is not hiding anything.”

The Catholic Bishop of Ondo, Jude Arogundade, said the visit was to comfort one another and also inform the governor about the plan to organise a befitting burial for the lost souls.

He said: “We are gathered here to comfort one another, it has been very difficult and painful not just because the incident happened in Owo, but in Ondo Diocese. We are preparing for the funeral of the people who died at the incident

“You have always taken the Catholic Church so highly in everything, that is the kind of person you are because you love God and respect him and you are a man of your word, you are the kind of leader we look up to in Yoruba land and Nigeria.”

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