Thursday, 18 July, 2024

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IPOB members, 14 others held over killing of policemen in Southeast


• Police lied, says secessionist group

Police have arrested 16 suspects over the killing of security operatives in the Southeast.

Some of the suspects were labelled members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Their arrest was through a joint effort with the Army and Airforce.

Force spokesman Frank Mba listed the suspects as Ugochukwu Samuel aka Biggy, 28, from Abia State, and Raphael Idang, 31, from Odukpani in Cross River State.

Others are Cletus Nwachukwu Egole aka ‘Alewa’, 60, from Imo State; Michael Uba, 33, from Imo State and 12 others.

Police said they were implicated in multiple felonies committed across several states in the Southeast.

According to Mba, the suspects were arrested in various parts of the country following intelligence-driven sting operations.

The statement reads: “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 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.”

Mba said investigations linked the suspects to the attacks and killing of security personnel, as well as stealing, unlawful possession of firearms, arson and malicious damage to operational assets of military and law enforcement agents.

He said: “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 24th December 2020 along Orlu-Ihiala Road in Imo State where two police officers were killed and a police Hilux patrol van set ablaze.

“Both were part of a larger group that attacked a police reconnaissance team on 13th January 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 (Eastern Security Network).

“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.”

No fewer than 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.

Mba said all the suspects will be charged to court.

IPOB debunked police claims that some of the 16 suspects were their members, saying that none of its members were involved in the killings.

Speaking to The Nation yesterday, Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful said that  IPOB did not form the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to attack Nigerian security forces but to defend their people against herders attack.

“We formed ESN to protect our people from the menace of the herdsmen who kill our people including our women who are constantly being raped. We have never attacked police because we operate in the forest.

He described the police force as the worst security agency ever established by Nigerian government.

“The police are a bunch of liars and unserious people. They are just arresting innocent people and tagging them IPOB/ESN members. We have never killed or attacked any police officer.”

Credit: The Nation

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