The police said they have arrested Cletus Nwachukwu Egole a.k.a Alewa, a 60 year-old pastor with the Holy Blessed Trinity Sabbath Church, Orlu, Imo State and Michael Uba, a 33 year-old prophet with the Association of Jewish Faith.
The pastors and 14 other suspects were accused of masterminding the spate of attacks against security personnel in Nigeria’s South east.
In a statement, Police Commissioner Frank Mba said the two pastors masterminded 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”, Mbah said.
Fourteen other suspects, all identified, along with the pastors, as members of Eastern Nigeria Security Network and Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) were arrested.
Police accused them of complicity in a series of violent and unprovoked attacks on security operatives and facilities in some states of the Federation, particularly in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria.
Some of the other nabbed suspects were Ugochukwu Samuel a.k.a Biggy, 28-year-old native of Arochukwu LGA in Abia State and Raphael Idang, 31-year-old native of Odukpani LGA of Cross River state
The suspects were arrested in various parts of the country following sustained, and intelligence-driven sting operations.
Police said their 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.
According to Mba, investigations revealed that Ugochukwu Samuel and Raphael Idang were among the criminal elements who attacked policemen on duty at a checkpoint on 24 December, 2020.
In the attack along Orlu-Ihiala Road in Imo state, two police officers were killed and a Police Hilux patrol van set ablaze.
In addition, the duo were also alleged to be part of a larger group that attacked a police reconnaissance team on 13th January, 2021 killing one police officer. U
“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”, police said.
Both suspects have confessed to be active members of IPOB and ESN”, the police statement added.
Nine AK47 rifles, five other sophisticated firearms, 17 AK47 Magazines, 549 AK47 live ammunition, 10 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), camouflage bullet proof vests, walkie talkies and other incriminating items were recovered from the suspects.