The Nigeria Police high command has said 16 suspects involved in the series of violent and unprovoked attacks of facilities and killings of security operatives in some States of the Federation, particularly in the South-Eastern part of the country have been arrested.
According to the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Frank Mba, a Commissioner of Police (CP), the arrest is an outcome of painstaking, deliberate and tireless efforts by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, working in collaboration with their counterparts from the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Airforce.
Mba said the operation was aimed at bringing to justice persons responsible for the emerging trend of attacks on security personnel and wanton destruction of security facilities and operational assets.
The identities of some of the arrested suspects were given as Ugochukwu Samuel (alias Biggy), 28, a native of Arochukwu Local Government Area (LGA) in Abia State; Raphael Idang, 31, a native of Odukpani LGA of Cross River State; Cletus Egole (alias Alewa), 60, a native of Orlu in Imo State; Michael Uba, 33, from Imo State; and 12 others.
The FPRO said in the course of investigation, the suspects were implicated in multiple felonies committed across several States in the South-Eastern part of the Federation.
He said: “ The suspects were arrested in various parts of the country following sustained, and intelligence-driven sting operations. Police investigations clearly established and linked the suspects to several incidents of attacks and murder of security personnel as well as stealing, unlawful possession of firearms, arson and malicious damage to operational assets of military and law enforcement agents.
“ Specifically, investigations revealed that the duo of Ugochukwu Samuel and Raphael Idang were among the criminal elements that attacked Policemen on duty at a checkpoint on December 24, 2020 along Orlu-Ihiala Road in Imo State where two Police Officers were killed and a Police Hilux patrol van set ablaze.
“ In addition, both were part of a larger group that attacked a Police Reconnaissance team on January 13, killing one Police Officer. Ugochukwu Samuel who sustained a bullet wound during an attack by his gang on a Military convoy in which some Soldiers were killed and weapons carted away, was subsequently arrested while receiving treatment in a hospital. Both suspects confessed to being active members of IPOB and ESN.
“ Cletus Egole, a pastor with the Holy Blessed Trinity Sabbath Church, Orlu, Imo State and Michael Uba, a prophet with the Association of Jewish Faith, who were also arrested, are two of the masterminds of the various attacks on security personnel, in addition to providing spiritual cover for the gang. Egole’s house was used by the gang members to plan their nefarious operations. He also donated his late brother’s farmland for use as a hideout and training camp for the gang, ” Mba said.
It was gathered that a total of nine AK47 rifles, five other sophisticated firearms, 17 AK47 Magazines, 549 AK47 live ammunition, 10 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), camouflage bullet proof vests, walkie talkies and other incriminating items were recovered from the suspects.
The Force Spokesperson said the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu has reiterated that the Force will not tolerate any further attack on its personnel or any citizen by any individual or group under any guise whatsoever.
“ The IGP assured that Law Enforcement Agents have gathered sufficient intelligence on the attackers and are closing up on scores of suspects already implicated in the attacks either directly or indirectly for financing, aiding and abetting the criminals.
“ He stressed that no murderer will go unpunished. The IGP enjoins parents/guardians as well as traditional/opinion leaders to weigh in and prevail on their children/wards to desist from towing the destructive paths of crime, ” Mba stated.
Security Watch Africa reports that all the suspects will be charged to court on conclusion of investigations.