- The Defence Headquarters has clarified some controversies regarding the arrest of the terrorists behind the Owo church attack
- Gen. Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff, said four terrorists were arrested, with Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza being the mastermind
- Irabor said Idris Ojo was not among them as earlier reported in some quarters, explaining the 32-year-old was one of the arrested suspected ISWAP terrorists who escaped from Kuje prison
FCT, Abuja - The Defence Headquarters has reacted to the controversies generated by the identity of the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) terrorist arrested over the June 5 attack on St. Francis Catholic Church Owo in Ondo state.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, made some clarifications on Tuesday, August 9, during a parley with journalists.
There have been controversies over reports that Irabor named one Idris Ojo, one of the ISWAP terrorists who was among the escapees from Kuje jailbreak, alongside one Jimoh Ibrahim, as the masterminds of the Owo attack.
Many Nigerians had, however, queried the claim as Idris Ojo was in prison at the time of the Owo attack.
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Idris Ojo not among the Owo church attack terrorists
However, the Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Jimmy Akpor, said the CDS was misquoted.
In a statement released on Wednesday, August 10, and seen by Legit.ng, Akpor said that Irabor had confirmed the arrest of four suspects through the collaborative efforts of the military and DSS personnel at Eika, in Okehi Local Government Area, Kogi on Monday, August 1.
Owo church attack: The arrested four
- Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik)
- Momoh Otohu Abubakar
- Aliyu Yusuf Itopa
- Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.
According to the Defence Chief, preliminary investigation revealed that Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza was the mastermind of the terror attack on the Owo Catholic Church.
Omeiza was also said to be the brain behind the "attack on a Police Station in Adavi Local Government Area, Kogi State on 23 June 2022, during which a policeman was killed and weapons carted away."
Akpor said Irabor also mentioned the arrest of another terrorist, Idris Ojo, aged 32, who was apprehended at Ayetoro Osi, Ondo state through the combined effort of military and DSS personnel on Aug. 7.
“Idris Ojo, the CDS said, was one of the suspected ISWAP terrorists who escaped from the Kuje Medium Correctional Centre on 5th July 2022.
“The CDS also mentioned that Ojo was arrested alongside Jimoh Ibrahim, 39 years, a sympathizer of the terrorist group, who accommodated him.
“The CDS further revealed that, the arrest of Idris Ojo was crucial as he, along with others, were already planning terrorists’ attacks against some selected targets, in order to create fear amongst the citizenry aimed at discrediting the government,” the statement read.
Owo church attackers’ arrest: Akeredolu claims “mix-up” in military report
He said Idris Ojo, one of the arrested suspects on the military’s list of those that attacked the St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, on June 5, was not part of the attackers.
Ojo was one of the inmates who escaped Kuje prison on July 5. Meanwhile, the Owo attack happened on June 5, hence the mix-up. The governor cleared the air through a statement by his chief press secretary, Richard Olatunde.