The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, on Tuesday, said masterminds of the Owo Catholic Church attack and other terrorists behind other daring attacks in the country have been arrested.
The PUNCH reports that some gunmen had on June 5 stormed St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, killing no fewer than 40 worshipers and injuring others.
The Federal Government, however, said the Islamic States of West African Province terrorists were responsible for the attack.
Although Irabor, who spoke during a parley with editors and media executives at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, only named one Idris Omeiza and Jimoh Ibrahim as suspected masterminds of the attack, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, confirmed that five suspects had been arrested.
Irabor said Omeiza, Ibrahim and other terror suspects would be paraded after the conclusion of investigation into their respective cases.
He said, “We have arrested those behind the dastardly act in Owo. It was my intention to present them to the public but because of the investigation still going on, I had to change my mind.
“I will like to say that in due course, the world will see them and others who are behind other daring attacks in the country.
“It was not only the Armed Forces that were involved in the operation. The DSS, Police and Intelligence agencies were part of the efforts to apprehend these criminals that have put us and indeed the nation on our toes.
“On August 7, one Idris Ojo (37) was apprehended at Aiyetoro in Ondo State. He was one of the high-profile Islamic State of West Africa Province members that escaped from Kuje Prison. Alongside with him is Jimoh Ibrahim, who is a 39-year-old criminal, who was also arrested. Idris Ojo wasn’t done with all the criminal activities he had done in the past, he was also planning other criminal activities and perfecting those crimes along with his cronies before his arrest.
“Again, on August 4, the military, in a combined operation with the Department of State Service, four terrorists were arrested at Eika in Okehi Local Government Area of Kogi State.
“Others are Idris 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 also in Kogi State that led to the killing of a policeman as well as weapons being carried away.”
On the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, Irabor said many of the hostages have been released, adding that “The president has directed, not just Armed Forces, but the entire security agencies, to do everything possible and undertake operations to rescue whoever is still left in captivity. That is what we are working on.”
Shortly after Irabor’s announcement, Akeredolu confirmed the arrest of five suspects.
The governor, who spoke during a courtesy visit to his office by the chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ondo State, Leke Adegbite, and his executive members, also disclosed that the person who allegedly housed the suspected terrorists before carrying out the attack had been arrested.
He said, “Now that the military has announced it, I can tell you that five of them have been arrested. They are still on the trail of the rest.
“The home where they lodged in Owo and the person who lodged them before the attack, have also been arrested.
“We did not spare a moment. I am happy that the Chief of Defence Staff 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.”
The governor also alleged that some Ebira indigenes residing in the state are now involved in kidnapping.
“I want to use this medium to urge our brothers (Ebira) to concentrate on their farming trade. It will be unfortunate to know that the Ebiras in our midst are now involved in kidnapping,” he said.
Ondo CAN reacts
Meanwhile, the state Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Anselm Ologunwa, in an interview with The PUNCH, commended the security agents on the achievement.
“I have not been informed officially (of the arrest), but we have to thank the authorities because last time, they said they have arrested them. Now, they are saying this, we have to thank them for all they are doing,” he said.
Owo monarch speaks
When contacted, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, also said he was yet to be officially informed about the matter.
“I am hearing it just as everybody is hearing it, but I have not been informed officially. Whenever I hear it officially, we will react,” Ogunoye said.