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ONDO: Akeredolu, Catholic Church differ over casualty figure in Owo attack

GOVERNOR Rotimi Akeredolu and the authorities of the Diocese of Ondo have announced a conflicting death toll from Sunday’s attack at St. Francis Catholic Church.

While Governor Akeredolu said 22 persons have been confirmed killed, the Diocesan Bishop, Jude Arogundade claimed the casualty is currently 38.

Eighty persons were affected in Sunday’s attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in Akure on Tuesday.

“The most unfortunate part is the lives of innocent children cut down in their prime and some severely injured by the mindless attackers,’’ Akeredolu said in a State broadcast.

He disclosed that, “The total number of people involved was 80. As of now, 56 are on admission, two discharged, while the death toll is 22. Efforts have been deepened to prevent further casualties.

“At Owo, the anger is palpable; the tension is at an abrasive level just as the urge for reprisals is high.

“Without doubt, too, the ripple impact of this heinous act, as well as the understandably angry reaction across the state, could not have been different.”

“I promise you that we shall commit every available resource to hunt down these assailants and make them pay dearly. We shall never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolve to rid our state of criminals.

“In honour of those who lost their lives to this unfortunate attack, I have already directed that all flags be flown at half-mast for seven days.

“This started on Monday, June 6 and will end on Sunday, June 12, because it is a collective loss to the people of our dear State,’’ he said.

The Governor said the attack was an attempt to test the will of the people of the State and, indeed, the Southwest geopolitical zone.

He said the attack was an invitation to precipitate anarchy because Yorubaland, and Owo in particular, had never been conquered and it would never happen.

He urged the people to be calm but to remain vigilant and not take the laws into their hands.

“Leave the rest for the government to shoulder. I have spoken to the heads of security agencies. I can assure you that security operatives have been deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to the Owo kingdom.

“I commiserate with my people in Owo, particularly the families of those who lost their lives to this wicked attack.

“I extend my condolences to Kabiyesi, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III, as well as to the Lord Bishop of the Catholic Church, Ondo Diocese, Most Rev. Jude Arogundade,’’ the Governor added.

But Arogundade said the diocese had been able to account for 38 victims.

He, however, said some families picked up corpses of their loved ones and those could not be accounted for by the diocese.

He said, “People have been asking me about the figure of those who died. The figure that we can account for presently is 38.

“But we know that many people were taken to private hospitals. Even some people came to take the bodies of their loved ones. We are trying to trace those people so that we can have a recount for all.

“But in the catholic hospital, which is St. Louis Hospital in Owo, and the Federal Medical Centre in Owo, we have 38 bodies.”

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