The death toll in the Monday attack on a chapel of Deeper Life Bible Church, Otite, in Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State, rose to 20 yesterday following the death of four more persons.
Yet-to-be identified gunmen had attacked the church on Monday night and fired indiscriminately at worshippers who were having Bible study, killing 16 people with many others injured.
In order to ward off further attacks and reprisals, the state government imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the troubled part of the state where gunmen also killed soldiers Tuesday.
Also, worried by the spate of attacks on religious places, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar has ordered a round-the-clock surveillance on worship centres to stem the tide.
The state General Overseer of the church, Pastor Raymond Egunjobi, confirmed the death toll to the governor, Captain Idris Wada, when he visited the injured who are receiving treatment at Tosan Hospital, Okene. He said four more persons among those receiving treatment had died.
Egunjobi said they were in the church for Bible study on Monday evening when the gunmen arrived and "after shooting everybody, they went further to shoot under the benches in the church so as to ensure that no one survived."
Zonal Coordinator, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), simply identified as Pastor Omotosho, who was also present during the governor's visit, told reporters that when he arrived at the church after receiving a distress call from a survivor, he saw bodies of the worshippers littering the church.
Narrating their ordeal, one of the surviving victims, who is receiving treatment in a hospital, said: "When they came, they blocked the main entrance of the church and switched off the electricity generating set. After that they opened fire on the worshippers."
In response to the attack, Wada ordered the restriction of movement from 6 pm to 6 am until further notice in Kogi Central Senatorial District where two soldiers were killed Tuesday in a fresh attack.
Wada, at a press briefing, also announced a ban on all commercial activities in the district and restriction on the movement of commercial motorcyclists in Okene and Lokoja from 6 am to 6 pm.
The governor, who also presented eight new Hilux vans to security agencies, said the decision was in response to the tense security situation, just as he vowed that the state government will live up to expectations.
He described the attack on the church as "ungodly, barbaric and unholy," adding that, "the state will leave no stone unturned to smoke out the perpetrators.
"I feel very sad about the murder of the Okene worshippers without provocation. The sad news changed everything for me. I feel the pain of people losing their loved ones. And on behalf of the government of Kogi State, I express deep sympathy with the Deeper Life Church," he said.
Wada said the state government, in collaboration with security agencies, would bring the gunmen to book.
He also pledged that the state government would foot the medical bills of the survivors.
Wada, who proceeded to visit the palace of the paramount ruler of Ebiraland, the Ohinoyi, Dr. Ado Ibrahim, expressed concern that traditional rulers were not doing enough in securing their domains and urged them to assist government in arresting the situation.
Ibrahim expressed sadness over the scary security situation in his domain and assured the governor and the people that everything necessary would be done to arrest the situation.
Earlier, before the governor's briefing, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Ile Simon, had confirmed an attack on military officers in Okene at approximately 4 pm.
He added that one of the assailants was also killed in the gun duel that ensued between the military and the attackers.
According to eyewitness accounts, the gunmen attacked the soldiers in their patrol vehicle stationed near the Okene Central Mosque, Okene.
The armed men were said to have arrived at the scene in a Hilux pickup van chanting some Islamic songs before attacking the mosque. Some Muslims were said to have been holding a Ramadan lecture at the mosque before the attack.
As a result, Lokoja, the state capital, was in turmoil in the early hours of Tuesday following rumours of a Boko Haram attack on the town.
Artisans, civil servants, students, commercial drivers and motorcyclists all scampered to safety. Also, churches and mosques, banks and private businesses were promptly shut down, leaving the city deserted.
The rumour was aggravated by the alleged discovery of a suspicious baggage believed to have contained an improvised explosive device (IED) at the premises of Revival Fire Church at Phase II, Lokoja.
A resident near the church, who spoke with THISDAY, said a black polythene bag was discovered near the church and people concluded that it was a bag of bombs.
Simon, however, said it was a hoax, adding that the police anti-bomb squad, which was at the church, made no discovery of an IED around the place.
Meanwhile, owing to the worsening security situation in Kogi State, the IGP ordered a 24-hour surveillance on all places of worship and other vulnerable areas in Okene as well as other parts of the state.
Abubakar also ordered the immediate deployment of additional units of riot police officers from other squadrons to beef up security in the state.
The IG further appealed for calm, promising that the attackers would not go unpunished.
A statement by police spokesman, Frank Mba quoted the IG as advising the general public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious movement to the police.