THE military, in collaboration with sister security agencies, has arrested the masterminds of at- tack on the Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State.
This was confirmed on Tuesday by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, while speaking at a parley with media executives at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Abuja.
St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, was attacked on June 5, leaving scores of worshippers killed and several others injured.
Speaking on Tuesday, Irabor said, “For the purpose of this interaction, I will like to read out their names and let me say that it is not just the armed forces but the DSS, the police and other intelligence agencies put up efforts to apprehend these criminals who that have put us and indeed the nation on the toes.
“On August 7, Idris Ojo (37) was apprehended at Aiyetorosi in Ondo State. He is one of the high profile Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) member that escaped from Kuje Prison. Alongside with him is one Jimoh Ibrahim, a 39-year-old criminal who was also arrested.
“Idris Ojo was not done with all the criminal activities which he undertook in the past, he was also planning other deadly attacks and was perfecting those plans along with his cronies before he was apprehended.
“On August 4, the military, in a combined operation with the DSS, arrested four terrorists at Eika in Okehi Local Government Area of Kogi State. They are Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza, otherwise known as Ibn Malik; Momoh Abubakar, Aliyu Itopa and Auwal Onimisi.
“Now, Omeiza is one of the masterminds of the June 5 Catholic Church attack in Owo, as well as the attack on the police station in Adavi in Kogi State that led to the killing of a policeman as well as weapons carted away.”
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Speaking on the Kaduna train attack, the CDS said the military is working to rescue the remaining victims as directed by the president. He explained that the suspects would be paraded to the world in “due course,” stressing that those arrested are behind other daring attacks in the country.
On the forthcoming general election and the worsening insecurity across the country, the CDS assured Nigerians that the elections will hold as planned, adding that the military, in collaboration with sister security agencies, will ensure nothing stops the poll from holding.
The CDS also reiterated the commitment of the nation’s armed forces to protect the democratic rule in the country.
Confirming the arrest of Owo church attackers, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu warned the Ebira community in the state against venturing into the kidnapping business.
The governor, speaking shortly after General Irabor made the announcement in Abuja, disclosed that the owner of the house where the attackers were harboured before the dastard act had also been arrested.
Akeredolu revealed that five of the attackers of St. Francis Catholic Church were apprehended in Kogi State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He noted that government did not spare a moment in trailing the terrorists since the attacks on innocent worshippers in Owo.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to his office by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), led by the state chairman of the council, Leke Adegbite, Akeredolu said the state government will continue to prioritise the safety of lives and property of the people of the state.
He said, “Now that the military has announced it, I can tell you that five of them have been arrested. Some of them were said to be the real ones that came. They are still on the trail of the rest. The home where they lodged in Owo was identified and the person that lodged them before the attack has been arrested.
“We did not spare a moment. I am happy that the CDS has announced it. We have known for a while but we needed not to come out with it because more works are still ongoing. I can confirm that this arrest has been made and they are still on the trail of some of them.”
Akeredolu called on leaders of the Ebira community in the state to warn their young ones against taking to kidnapping as a venture in the state, saying recent reports had established some Ebira indigenes are responsible for the kidnapping of some people in the state.
He said the Ebiras have lived together with the people of the state peacefully for several decades and have always been supportive and hardworking but frowned on the recent development.
“I want to use this medium to urge our brothers to concentrate on their farming trade. It will be unfortunate to know that the Ebiras in our midst are now involved in kidnapping.
“We are appealing to them not to copy bad thing. The traders selling by the roadside should not become informants. We are not fighting them.
“We have seen their numbers; they supported and voted for us during elections. I will call their leaders and talk to them. Our brothers who were kidnapped on their way to Ikare talk to them. They were taken to Ebira farmsteads.
“For me, we have lived together for too long for this to happen. I am ready to make any effort to ensure that the conviviality that we have enjoyed continues. “But we are begging their leaders to urge them not to copy bad things. They are in our midst, we are surrounded by them. The issue of security is key and it’s dynamic,” Akeredolu noted.
On the issue of security, Governor Akeredolu disclosed that aside the recent recruitment and training of new Amotekun personnel, 20 hunters and local vigilantes will be trained by the Amotekun corps in each of the 18 local government areas in the state.
In its response, the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, described the arrest as a welcome development.
It, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to come out boldly and send powerful messages to evil perpetrators in the country to desist.
Afenifere said the development is an indication that the armed forces is not oblivious of the insecurity in the country.
In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, the group said the confirmation of the arrest by Akeredolu and the reassurance given on efforts at providing security for the people “also gladden our hearts.”
It urged the security agencies and the governments at federal and state levels to buckle up in providing security for all in the country.
It, again, condoled with families of victims of Owo church attack and applauded Akeredolu for the efforts his government is making at pro- viding security for the people in the state. Also speaking, a former commissioner of police, Fatai Owoseni, while describing the arrest of suspected killers as welcome development, called for synergy among security agencies.
The Security Adviser to the Oyo State Governor, speaking in an interview on Channels Television, said the arrest was made possible as a result of synergy among relevant security agencies.
He called for collaboration among the security chiefs, especially in the area of information sharing, adding that this would assist in reducing the crime rate in the country. He also called for the establishment of crime laboratory where various criminal strategies would be dissected. According to him, there is a need for security chiefs to revisit the past security strategies, especially in the area of garnering information.
“In the past, detectives used to stay with criminals in the cell, as well as correctional centres to garner information,” he said, noting that criminals display same characters Owoseni, therefore, called for immediate prosecution of the suspected killers.