*16 IPOB members detained for killing police officers
*As kidnapped Rivers monarch regains freedom
By Hassan Zaggi, Chuks Oyema-Aziken, Blessing Ibunge (Port Harcourt) and Francis Okoye (Maiduguri)
The nation’s security forces have recorded major victory in the war against insecurity and banditry as troops of the 28 Task Force Brigade, Nigerian Army in Chibok and Askira at the weekend mowed down about 48 Boko Haram terrorists and rescued 11 abducted victims in an onslaught in Borno state.
In another development, the Force headquarters, yesterday said they arrested 16 persons, who were said to be members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for “complicity in series of violent and unprovoked attacks on security operatives and facilities” across the country.
On the Borno military operation, the Director, Army Public Relations, Maj-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, disclosed in a statement.
Yerima said that troops boxed the terrorists to a tight corner while acting on credible intelligence on their operations at the Sambisa Forest.
He said the troops laid ambush for the terrorists at the Chibok-Damboa axis killing nine, while several others escaped with fatal gunshot wounds while, recovering seven AK-47 rifles and freed three kidnapped victims.
He said that the troops in Askira also laid a successful ambush along the Askira– Chibok Main Supply Route (MSR) and neutralised 39 terrorists in another encounter.
The army spokesperson also disclosed that the troops successfully rescued eight kidnapped victims from the terrorists in the course of the encounter.
“Unfortunately, however, one of the kidnapped victims sustained injuries on his leg while in the hands of his abductors.
“He has since been conveyed to a military medical facility for immediate treatment,” he said.
He added that troops recovered another eight AK-47 rifles with four magazines, among other items, appreciating the gallantry and dexterity of the troops.
*16 suspects detained for attacking police officers, says Mba
In carrying out the operation, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CP Frank Mba, stated that several police officers had been “killed lately in a string of attacks by gunmen, mostly around the South-East and South-South regions.
He explained that “Police stations are often the target of the attacks, which appeared coordinated. The gunmen would raid the armoury, cart away police rifles, and then set the stations on fire, during the attacks. Police vehicles on patrol have also been targeted by gunmen,” he said.
In a statement on Sunday Mba said the arrests were “an outcome of painstaking, deliberate and tireless” collaborative effort between the police, the Nigerian Army, and the Nigerian Airforce.
He named the suspects to include: Ugochukwu Samuel (aka Biggy, 28), from Arochukwu Local Government Area, Abia State; Raphael Idang, 31, from Odukpani Local Government Area, Cross River State; Cletus Egole (aka Alewa), 60, from Orlu in Imo State, and Michael Uba, 33, from Imo State.
“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.
“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,” Mba said in the statement.
He added: “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.
“In addition, 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.”
He further said that two of the suspects, who claimed to be a pastor and a prophet, were the masterminds behind some of the attacks.
“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’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,” he said.
Police said they recovered nine AK-47 rifles, five other sophisticated firearms, 17 AK-47 magazines, 549 AK-47 live ammunition, 10 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), camouflage bullet proof vests, walkie-talkies and other incriminating items from the suspects.
The statement quoted the Inspector-General of Police as saying that law enforcement agents “have gathered sufficient intelligence on the attackers and are closing up on scores of suspects already implicated in the attacks either directly or indirectly for financing, aiding and abetting the criminals.”
*Rivers monarch regains freedom from abductors
Also, the Rivers State Police command has confirmed the release of His Royal Majesty, Dr. Aaron Miller, who was abducted about one month ago.
Dr Miller, the Okama of Ikuru in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, was kidnapped from his hometown on February 21, 2021 and whisked to unknown destination.
While searching for the king, the police recovered his cloths and hat in a creek and further investigation led to the arrest of one of the suspects who assisted security agencies to rescue the victim.
Confirming the development in a statement on Sunday, SP Nnamdi Omoni, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) at the State Police Command, said combined efforts of the Navy and the police led to the rescue.
Omoni stated: “The Rivers State Police Command hereby confirms the unconditional release of HRM, King (Dr.) Aaron Miller, the Okama of Ikuru in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“The Monarch was released last night at a forest in Abissa, Akuku Toru LGA, where he had been held in captivity for a month now.
“His release was as a result of a robust synergy with the Navy, where through collaborative efforts, both Agencies from inception, worked relentlessly and with the aid of technical assistance, among other measures led to his release”.
He added that the Police resulting from the incident, deployed strategically and mounted unassailable pressure on the kidnappers.
He said that this led to the arrest of Wariboko Basoene, who made useful confessions which led the rescue of the monarch.
Narrating his ordeal in the hands of his abductors, the Royal Father who expressed gratitude to God for his release, condemned such abominable act and urged other criminally-minded elements to repent.
Earlier the Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, who led his officers to the residence of the monarch, said he and his men worked hard to ensure the safe and unconditional release of the King and his kinsman (a lecturer), kidnapped simultaneously.
He reiterated his commitment to ensure the state is safe and secure, while soliciting the cooperation of members of the public.