Owo church massacre: CDS, Akeredolu confirm arrest of masterminds

He said that the suspects, majority of whom were arrested in various communities in Kogi, would be paraded before the public in due course.

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The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, says the masterminds of the June 5 massacre in Owo, Ondo State have been captured by security operatives. This is coming just as Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State also on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of five suspected killers of over 40 worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo on June 5.

It would be recalled that no fewer than 40 worshippers were massacred at the St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, in an incident that jolted Nigeria and the global community.

Speaking at a parley with media executives at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday, Irabo said that the terrorists were captured at different locations across the country.

He said that the suspects, majority of whom were arrested in various communities in Kogi, would be paraded before the public in due course.

“We had wanted to present the suspects to the public immediately but couldn’t because certain investigations are still being carried out,” he said.

He gave his assurance that in due course, the suspects and others who had been involved in some daring attacks in the past few months would be presented to the public.

“Starting with the Owo church attack, it is my pleasure to let you know that we have arrested those behind that dastardly act.

“On Aug. 7, one Idris Ojo (37) was apprehended at Aiyetorosi in Ondo State. He was one of the high-profile Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) members that escaped from Kuje Prison.

“He was arrested along with one Jimoh Ibrahim, a 39-year-old criminal.

“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 captured,” he said.

“Again, on Aug. 4,  the military in a combined operation with the Department of State Service (DSS) arrested four terrorists at Eika in Okehi Local Government Area of Kogi State.

“Others 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 also in Kogi State that led to the killing of a policeman as well as weapons being carried away,” the CDS said.

On the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, Irabor said that although some victims had been released, the military and other security agencies remained committed to ensuring safe rescue of the remaining victims in captivity.

Earlier, the Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Jimmy Akpor, said the essence of the parley was to build a sustainable trust between the media and members of the armed forces.

Akpor said the meeting was in line with the leadership focus of Irabor toward fostering professional armed forces capable of meeting constitutional imperatives.

Meanwhile, Gov. Akeredolu has also confirmed the arrests in Ondo state. He said this during a courtesy visit to his office by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ondo State Council, led by the Chairman, Prince Leke Adegbite.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akeredolu confirmed the arrest shortly after the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, announced the arrest of the masterminds of the attack in Abuja.

The governor further disclosed that the owner of the house where the attackers stayed before the June 5 attack in Owo had also been arrested

He noted that government did not spare a moment in trailing the terrorists since the horrendous attack on innocent worshippers.

”Now that the military has announced it, I can tell you that five of them have been arrested now. They are still on the trail of the rest.

“The home where they lodged in Owo and the person that accommodated them before the attack, has 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.

In a related development, Governor Akeredolu also said “I can confirm that this arrest has been made and they are still on the trail of some of them,” he said.

Akeredolu also called on leaders of the Ebira community in the state to warn the young ones against the bad venture of kidnapping.

The governor said recent reports from kidnap victims in the state have established that some Ebira indigenes are now involved in the unwholesome act.

He noted that the Ebiras have lived together with the people of the state peacefully for several decades, adding that they have always been supportive and hardworking.

“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 road side 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 thing. They are in our midst, we are surrounded by them. The issue of security is key and it’s dynamic,” he said.

Akeredolu disclosed that aside the recent recruitment and training of new Amotekun personnel, 20 hunters and local vigilantees would be trained by the Amotekun corps in each of the 18 local government areas of the state.

The governor, who thanked the NUJ in the state for the cooperation extended to his administration, assured them of sustained efforts at developing the state.

Earlier, the Chairman of the NUJ, Ondo State Council thanked the governor for his support for the management of Ondo State Radiovision Corporation and Owena Press PLC, adding that the upgrade of facilities in the two state-owned media outfits was commendable.

He equally appreciated the governor for the approval of the Weigh-in allowance for journalists and information officers working in the State and Local government service.