Five suspects, one accomplice held over Owo church attack

Five suspects, one accomplice held over Owo church attack

•Irabor: Nigeria does not need mercenaries •We have been trailing attackers, says Akeredolu

Two months and five days after the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo in Ondo State, security agencies have arrested five terror suspects and one accomplice.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, who confirmed the arrest of the masterminds in Abuja, yesterday ruled out the possibility of hiring mercenaries to assist the Armed Forces to curtail banditry and terrorism in the country.

Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who expressed delight at the arrest of the suspects, told reporters in Akure, the state capital, that security agencies have been on their trail after the attack.

On June 5, the ancient Owo town was thrown into mourning, following the mass shooting and bomb attack on the church, where over 40 worshippers died.

The Federal Government said the Islamic States of West Africa Province (ISWAP) was behind the attack.

The arrested suspects, according to security agents, are Idris Ojo, Jimoh Ibrahim, Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza, also known as Ibn Malik, Momoh Abubakar, Aliyu Itopa and Awwal Onimisi.

Irabor, who said efforts will be intensified to rescue Abuja-Kaduna train hostages from bandits, assured that security agencies will guarantee security for the 2023 polls.

But, ruling out the possibility of hiring mercenaries to fight the anti-terror war, he said the funds to be used to hire mercenaries should be channelled to build the capacity of the military, which has the responsibility of protecting the country.

Irabor also said Abuja is safe without any threat whatsoever.

Irabor made the clarifications during a parley with media executives at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.

He said: “Hiring mercenaries is not an option; it is a half story. Mercenaries are commercial entities moving from one place to the other.

“We should rather use the resources to build the capacity of those that have the responsibility to protect the country.

“The core responsibility of the military is to protect the territorial integrity of the country.

“A nation is as strong as its military and there are various avenues you can weaken your military. Some people are strong physically but you can attack them emotionally and their strength will be useless.

“Do not encourage people to weaken the emotional strength of the Armed Forces, if you do, every one of us will be the loser.

“God has created this space for us to dominate. Our dominating and exploiting the resources of the state is a collective responsibility.

“It is for us, our families and our children to enjoy. It is not for us to abandon it for some other idiots to take over; it is for us to defend and enjoy. So whatever it will take to defend the nation, we will do.”

Irabor also confirmed the arrest of some terrorists in Okene, Kogi State.

He said the criminals were arrested in collaboration with other security arms, including the Department of State Services (DSS), the police and intelligence agencies.

He added: “Within the last time we met, we have recorded remarkable achievement.

“Within the same period, there have been ignoble actions of men of the underworld that have impinged on our collective well-being, namely the unfortunate train attack, the attack on Kuje correctional centre and the attack on the presidential convoy.

“We have arrested those behind the dastardly act in Owo.

“I intended to present them (the suspects) 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 is not just the Armed Forces, but the DSS, the Police and other intelligence agencies were part and parcel of the 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 Aiyetoro Osi in Ondo State. He is one of the high-profile Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) that escaped from Kuje Prison.

“Alongside with him is one Jimoh Ibrahim who is 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 he was perfecting those plans along with his cronies before he was apprehended.

“On August 4, again, the military in a combined operation with the DSS arrested four terrorists at Eika in Okehi Local Government Area of Kogi State.

“These are Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza otherwise known as Ibn Malik; Momoh Abubakar, Aliyu Itopa and Awwal 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.”

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