Dayo Johnson, Akure
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state has confirmed the arrest of five suspected terrorists, including their lodger, that massacred worshippers at St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, on June 5.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, had said earlier today, in Abuja, that their arrest was made possible by joint operations of all the security agencies.
Irabor said that the suspects are members of Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) and are currently in Military custody.
According to him, “we have recovered the last vehicle they used for that operation and we made some arrests and we have also recovered some vital things which we are working on.
“A number of people have been arrested concerning the Owo issue as well as a number of equipment.”
Recall that over 50 worshippers, including children and the aged, were killed when the terrorists stormed the church and opened fire.
They also detonated explosives as the worshippers scampered for safety.
Many of those injured during the attack are still recuperating at different hospitals within and outside the state.
However, Akeredolu, while reacting in Akure, confirmed the arrest of the suspects shortly after the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, made the announcement in Abuja.
He said this during a courtesy visit to his office by the leadership of the state Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), led by the council’s Chairman, Prince Leke Adegbite.
Akeredolu further said that “the owner of the house where the attackers stayed before the June 5 attack in Owo has also been arrested
“Now that the military has announced it, I can tell you that five of them have been arrested now.
“The security men 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 in trailing the terrorists since the horrendous attacks on innocent worshipers at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa, Owo.
“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.”
Recall that the state commander of Amotekun, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, had recently also claimed that the security outfit has arrested some of the killers of the worshippers.
Adeleye, however, did not give the actual number and identities of suspects arrested by his personnel, noting that it would hamper investigation and the arrest of their sponsors.
Governor Akeredolu has also raised the alarm that some Ebira indigenes are now involved in kidnapping.
According to him recent “reports from victims of kidnap in the state have established that some Ebira indigenes are now involved in the unwholesome act.”
Akeredolu, who noted that the Ebiras have lived together with the people of the state peacefully for several decades, added 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.”
Akeredolu called on leaders of the Ebira community in the state to warn their young ones not to copy the bad venture of kidnapping.
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.
On the issue of Security, Akeredolu said that aside 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, Prince Adegbite, 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.
Adegbite 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.
He lauded the governor for spearheading the establishment of Amotekun in the South West.
Contacted to react on the arrest of the suspects, the traditional ruler of the ancient town, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye said he would react later after getting the full brief.
According to him, “I have also heard of their arrest, for now I don’t have any reaction, maybe later.”
On his part, the state Chairman of Council of Obas, the Deji of Akureland, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo said that it was “a sigh of relief to the traditional rulers in the state and to the family of the victims in particular.”
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Michael Adeyeye, the traditional ruler said that “though the arrest will not bring our beloved ones back to life, yet it will be a sweet memory that these sinners did not go unpunished.
“We are so grateful that our beloved governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who kept his promise of ensuring the apprehension of the perpetrators of this heinous crime and also bring them to justice.
“I equally salute the efforts of our gallant soldiers and the security forces for their efforts at combating insurgency and insecurity that is bedeviling our nation.
“I urge them not to rest until victory is achieved so that we can make Nigeria a safe place for all.
“All Nigerians should equally join hands in this regards and be ready to give maximum support to our security agencies as they need our support at this critical time in the history of our nation.”