Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo, says 22 persons have been confirmed dead following the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo state.
The church was attacked by gunmen on Sunday, with several persons killed and others injured.
The incident has elicited public sympathy nationally and internationally
Speaking in a statewide broadcast on Tuesday, Akeredolu said 80 people were involved in the attack and that 56 people are currently receiving treatment in hospitals.
“As you will all recall, I was out of the state on party assignment in respect of the ongoing national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC),” the governor said.
“I had to cut short my stay in Abuja to have a personal first-hand assessment of the situation.
“On arrival, I received preliminary briefings from the heads of the various security agencies which formed the basis of movement to the scene of the devilish act in Owo.
“The site, that is, St. Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa, Owo, presents a gory war-like scene. The Federal Medical Centre, Owo, the St. Louis Hospital, Owo, the General Hospital, Owo, as well as some private hospitals in Owo, were filled with the injured, most of whom were in critical condition.
“The most unfortunate part is the lives of innocent children cut down in their prime and some severely injured by the mindless attackers. The total number of people involved was 80. As at now, 56 are on admission, two discharged, while the death toll is 22.”
Speaking further, the Ondo governor said the attack is an “attempt to test the will of the people of the state and indeed, the south-west”.
“At Owo, the anger was palpable. The tension was at an abrasive level just as the urge for reprisals was high,” he said.
“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.
“To me, this is an attempt to test the will of the people of the state and indeed, the south-west.
“It, unequivocally, has the brazenly possible consequence of invitation to national anarchy because Yorubaland, and Owo in particular, have never been conquered before; and it will never happen.”