It took the combined effort of the military, the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies in a sting operation to arrest the suspected terrorists who attacked the Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State on June 5, 2022.
Most of the over 50 people who were killed in the gory attack were given mass burial by the state government.
Giving an update on the Owo Church attack, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, who disclosed this yesterday, said they were unable to parade the suspects yesterday because investigations were still ongoing.
Narrating how the terrorists were fished out, he said, “I want to tell you that we have arrested the attackers of Owo Church. We were to parade them today for you to be but investigations are still ongoing.
“For the purpose of this interaction, I will like to read out their names and as I read out their names, let me say that it is not just the armed forces but the DSS, the police and other intelligence agencies were parts and parcel of some of the efforts to apprehend these criminals who have put us and indeed the nation on its 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) 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 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 of Kogi State.
These 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 defence chief noted that the military has neutralized many bandits terrorising the country.
On the Kaduna train attack, Irabor said the military was working to ensure the rescue of victims as directed by the President.
The CDS also dismissed the idea of recruiting mercenaries to support the military in the fight against the terrorists.
Irabor who stated this in his address at the Chief of Defence Staff media parley with media executives at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) also said the military in collaboration with other security agencies have arrested those behind 5 June 2022 attack on a Catholic Church in Ondo State.
He advised that the resources that would have been used to hire mercenaries should be channeled to build the capacity of the military, which has the responsibility of protecting the country.
The CDS said, “Mercenary 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.”
He however reassured Nigerians that the Military will do everything possible to defend the territorial integrity of the country, adding that it will not relinquish the control of the country to terrorists.
Irabor urged Nigerians, especially the media, to unite against the enemies of the State.
His words: “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. There are people who 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 losers.
“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”.
Governor Akeredolu Confirms Arrest Of Attackers
Meanwhile, Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has also confirmed the arrest of the attackers of St Francis Catholic Church, Owo.
The governor confirmed the arrest shortly after the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, made the announcement in Abuja.
Akeredolu said the owner of the house where the attackers stayed before the June 5 attack in Owo has also been arrested.
He said the state government did not spare a moment in trailing the terrorists since the horrendous attacks on innocent worshipers at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa, Owo.
Akeredolu spoke during a courtesy visit by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by the chairman of the Council, Prince Leke Adegbite, to his office.
He said, “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 work was still ongoing. I can confirm that this arrest has been made. And they are still on the trail of some of them.”
Governor Akeredolu also called on leaders of the Ebira community in the state to warn their young ones not to copy the bad venture of kidnapping.
He said recent reports from victims of kidnap in the state have established that some Ebira indigenes are now involved in the unwholesome act.
According to him, Ebira people have lived together with the people of the state peacefully for several decades, adding that they have always been supportive and hardworking.
He continued: “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 things. 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 things. They are in our midst; we are surrounded by them. The issue of security is key and it is dynamic.”
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.
Dwelling on the issue of security, Governor Akeredolu disclosed that aside from 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 eighteen local government areas in the state.
Earlier, the chairman of the NUJ, Ondo State Council thanked the Governor for his support for the management of OSRC and Owena Press PLC, adding that the upgrade of facilities in the two state-owned media outfits is commendable.