The death toll in Sunday terrorist attacks on a church in Owo, Ondo State, and in Kajuru community in Kaduna State has risen to 72.
Also, Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu yesterday pledged that the state government will provide land in a good environment for the mass burial of the victims of the Owo Catholic Church terror attack.
Governor Akeredolu gave the assurance while playing host to a team of Catholic Bishops from the South-West led by Most Reverend Leke Abegunrin, the Archbishop of Ibadan Diocese.
The team was on a condolence visit to the governor at his Ijebu-Owo residence in Owo.
The Catholic Bishop of Ondo, Most Reverend Jude Arogundade said the church will be organising a befitting burial for the victims.
Giving an update on the casualty figures, Akeredolu revealed that the death toll had risen to 40 people.
According to him, 127 persons were affected in the attack, 61 survivors are still on admission in different hospitals, while 26 persons have been discharged.
The governor added that the new figure followed the harmonisation of the reports from the various hospitals including the private ones.
He urged the people to discountenance the figures earlier rolled out.
“Those are the figures we have now from the commissioner for Health. So, the government is not hiding anything,” he said.
Governor Akeredolu explained that the state government had set up a bank account for donations following a series of calls and demands for such by well-meaning individuals who are desirous of helping the families of the victims and the survivors.
He gave assurance that all the donations made would be judiciously utilised for the purpose it is meant for.
Akeredolu said, “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 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.
Earlier, Bishop Abegunrin had expressed his sadness over the unexpected attack, describing it as an attack on God for which they will face consequences.
He said, “We were saddened when watching on our small phones and later in the evening the whole episode as it was on the public television; it was really sad. The Bishops of Yoruba land in Ondo and Ibadan are here to commiserate with you, the Owo people, the people of Ondo State and with our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church and Ondo Diocese.
“It is very painful; it can provoke people to retaliate and do what is ungodly, but we are people of faith; we leave everything to God to judge, but humanly speaking, we heard what you have been doing in the state that those people who did this havoc to us will be brought to book before long and we are happy about that.”
He thanked the governor for his actions so far and urged him to do his utmost to bring the bandits to book.
On his part, the Catholic Bishop of Ondo, Most Reverend Jude Arogundade said the visit was to inform the governor about the plan to organise a befitting burial for the lost souls.
“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 in the incident.”
Meanwhile, following attacks on Ungwan Gamu, Dogon Noma, Ungwan Sarki and Maikori villages near Maro, all in Kajuru local government area of Kaduna State on Sunday, 5th June, 2022 that left 25 persons dead, the Adara Development Association (ADA) has said that the death toll as of yesterday was 32 after seven more decomposing corpses were discovered in surrounding bushes.
The bandits in their large numbers were reported to have invaded the villages on Sunday at about noon in an operation that lasted for hours.
The terrorists, it was further gathered, came on motorcycles, carrying three AK47-wielding persons each, killing anybody at sight.
A statement issued and signed by the national president of ADA, Awemi Dio Maisamari, said the attackers burnt down a whole village, killing 25 persons, including 16 men, five women, and four children on Sunday.
“We are not yet sure how many the casualties are now but some injured persons are still taking treatments in various hospitals. Some houses were burnt at Ungwan Sarki, but Maikori village was completely destroyed.
“The ECWA church in Dogo Noma was razed. Some houses in Unguwan Sarki and Unguwan Gamu were also burnt down.
“The burial of victims was also disrupted on Monday as the terrorists were sighted in nearby bushes. Furthermore, many people are still missing and some of them are believed to have been abducted by the assailants. So far, no contacts have been made.”
He said the attack caused serious panic leading to the displacement of thousands of people in the area, adding that most of the displaced persons, especially women and children, are still relocating to places like Katul Crossing, Kachia, Idon and Maraban Kajuru.
The attack was said to have compounded the already bad humanitarian situation in Kajuru LGA because Kutura Station and other neighbouring villages were similarly destroyed and displaced on 8th April, 2022.
According to ADA, some locals reported that they saw a helicopter hovering around and providing cover for the terrorists.
It urged the Nigeria Air Force to thoroughly investigate the incident and determine if the helicopter and the crew belong to the Nigeria Air Force.
“There have been too many reports of helicopters dropping weapons and provisions to bandits in their locations both in and out of Adara Chiefdom. The Nigeria Air Force should speak on this incident to clear the air.
“We call on the government and other people of conscience to come to the aid of our displaced and dehumanised people,” he said.