Owo Church massacre: Army, Akeredolu confirm arrest of masterminds
The chief of defence staff, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor and the governor of Ondo State, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu have confirmed the arrest of some persons alleged to have carried attacks on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.
Recall that heavily armed men invaded the church on Sunday, June 5, 2022 and killed 40 parishioners and injured many.
The federal government, however, said the Islamic States of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists were behind the attack.
Akeredolu differed with the government and described the statement as “hasty”.
However, Irabor told media executives at a session in Abuja on Tuesday that the masterminds of the attack had been apprehended.
The CDS said the suspects, who are members of ISWAP, had been detained.
Irabor said the terrorists, who were nabbed in Kogi State on August 1, 2022, included Idris Abdulmalik Okeiza, Momoh Otueze, Aliyu Yusuf and Awal Oreiza.
He also said the military, in conjunction with the security agencies, arr
ested masterminds of the attack, one 32-year-old Idris Ojo at Aiyetor, Ondo State, alongside 39-year-old Jimoh Ibrahim on August 7, 2022.
According to him, Ojo, who was one of those that escaped from the Kuje Prison during the July 5 attack, were planning deadly attacks before they were arrested.
Irabor said the suspects would be paraded after an investigation had been concluded into the matter.
“Within the last time we met, we have recorded remarkable achievement. Let me bring it to your notice that 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 as well as what has been reported in the past the attack on the presidential convoy.
“Also, the Owo incident which was intended to bring man and women of the armed forces to present them in a form and shape that make it to look as if the nation is on a siege. 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,” he said.
Similarly, Akeredolu confirmed the arrest of the suspected attackers but gave the number as five.
Akeredolu, who spoke during a courtesy visit to his office by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), led by the state chairman of the Council, Mr. Leke Adegbite, noted that government did not spare a moment in trailing the terrorists since the horrendous attacks.
“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. I can confirm that this arrest has been made. And they are still on the trail of some of them,” he added.