Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, who disclosed this yesterday, said the 16 suspects including a pastor and a prophet were arrested through a joint effort with the Army and Airforce.
He said: “Operatives of the Nigeria Police Force have arrested 16 suspects for complicity in a series of violent and unprovoked attacks on security operatives and facilities in some states of the Federation, particularly in the Southeastern part of Nigeria.
“The suspects – Ugochukwu Samuel, a.k.a Biggy, a 28-year-old native of Arochukwu LGA in Abia State; Raphael Idang, a 31-year-old native of Odukpani LGA of Cross River State; Cletus Nwachukwu Egole, aka ‘Alewa’, a 60-years-old native of Orlu in Imo State; Michael Uba, 33yrs from Imo State; and twelve others in the course of investigation were implicated in multiple felonies committed across several states in the South-Eastern part of the federation.
“The suspects were arrested in various parts of the country, following sustained and intelligence-driven sting operations.
“The arrest is an outcome of painstaking, deliberate and tireless efforts by operatives of the Nigeria Police working in collaboration with their counterparts from the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Airforce.
“It is 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.”
“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, aka, Biggy 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, 2021 killing one police officer.
“Ugochukwu Samuel, a.k.a Biggy, 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 Nwachukwu Egole, aka, Alewa, 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, Cletus Nwachukwu Egole, aka Alewa’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.
“A total of nine AK47 rifles, five other sophisticated firearms, 17 AK47 Magazines, 549 AK47 live ammunition, 10 Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, camouflage bulletproof vests, walkie talkies and other incriminating items were recovered from the suspects.
“Meanwhile, 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.
“He assured that law enforcement agents have gathered sufficient intelligence on the attackers and are closing in on scores of suspects already implicated in the attacks either directly or indirectly for financing, aiding and abetting the criminals.”
Stressing that no murderer will go unpunished, the IGP enjoined 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.
“All the suspects will be charged to court on conclusion of investigations,” CP Mba said.
This is coming a few days after Nigerian Army deployed soldiers to arrest IPOB ESN operatives alleged to be the rampaging gunmen killing security operatives and carting away heavy arms and ammunition from police stations in Anambra state.