The death toll in the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State has risen to 40 with 26 survivors discharged from hospitals, days after the incident.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State made the disclosure when he hosted a team of Catholic Bishops from the South-West, led by Most Reverend Leke Abegunrin, on Wednesday.
A statement issued by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary Richard Olatunde quoted Akeredolu as saying that “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. Twenty-six have been discharged. Those are the figures we have now from the Commissioner for Health. So, the government is not hiding anything.”
According to the Ondo leader, the new figure followed the harmonization of reports from the various hospitals including the private ones, urging people to disregard earlier figures.
This is as he maintained that there are no right words to describe the attack but assured his government is making plans for the burial of the victims.
“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,” the governor said.
“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.”
He also disclosed that the government is accepting donations from individuals and groups who want to help the families of the victims. Governor Akeredolu explained that the move became important following a series of calls from several quarters.
Akeredolu said an account has been set up for such donations and assured that all monies received will be used judiciously.