BusinessDay

Irabor reassures adequate security for 2023 elections

…confirms arrest of 5 suspects in Owo church massacre …Akeredolu speaks on arrest

Lucky Irabor, a lieutenant general and Nigeria’s chief of defence staff, on Tuesday, allayed fears of the possibility of the 2023 general elections not holding as scheduled on the back of heightening insecurity in the country.

Irabor assured that the armed forces have a covenant with the country’s democratic process and will do everything within its powers to ensure that the 2023 general elections hold, by creating the necessary conditions for a “free, safe and secure” conduct of the elections.

Irabor gave the assurance at a parley with editors and media executives at the defence headquarters in Abuja, where he acknowledged the spate of terrorist attacks in different parts of the country, and further assured that the security forces were equal to the task.

“We, as members of the armed forces, have a covenant with the democratic process and that covenant presupposes that we will do everything to create the conditions for a free, safe and secure conduct of the 2023 elections.

“All the operational engagements that we have had, and having, are tailored towards ensuring that the democratic process is not only nurtured but also made to become more solid. So, I join you to encourage Nigerians and to assure them that the 2023 elections will not only hold, we will do everything possible to ensure that nothing stops it,” he said.

But he charged the political class to undertake actions which would bring the needed peace to the system rather than on things that could become distractions to the democratic process, credible elections and a peaceful political transition.

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“I want to assure you that we will do everything possible to ensure that every part of this country has the necessary safety guarantees that will enable all eligible voters to exercise their franchise,” Irabor reassured.

The CDS, also disclosed that security operatives have apprehended five suspected terrorists linked to the June 5, 2022 attack at Saint Francis Catholic Church at Owo, in Ondo State.

He said the attackers were arrested during joint operations involving the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Department of Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

The arrest came barely two months after gunmen stormed the church, opened fire on the congregation, detonated explosives and killed about 40 worshippers.

“I want to tell you that we have arrested the attackers of Owo church. We were to parade them today for you to see but investigations are still ongoing.

“For the purpose of this interaction, I will like to read out their names and as I read out their names, let me say that it is not just the armed forces, but the DSS, the police and other intelligence agencies were part and parcel of the efforts to apprehend these criminals who that have put us and indeed the nation on the toes.

“On August 7, Idris Ojo (37) was apprehended at Aiyetorosi in Ondo State. He is one of the high-profile Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) that escaped from Kuje Prison.

“Alongside with him is one Jimoh Ibrahim, a 39-year- old criminal who was also arrested. Ojo was not done with all the criminal activities which he undertook in the past, he was also planning other deadly attacks and he was perfecting those plans along with his cronies before he was apprehended.

“On August 4, again, the military in a combined operation with the DSS, arrested four terrorists at Eika in Okehi Local Government of Kogi State. These are Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza otherwise known as Ibn Malik; Momoh Abubakar, Aliyu Itopa and Auwal Onimisi.

“Now, Omeiza is one of the masterminds of the June 5 Catholic Church attack in Owo, as well as the attack on the police station in Adavi also in Kogi State, that led to the killing of a policeman as well as weapons being carried away”.

Meanwhile, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has also confirmed the arrest of the five suspects.

Akeredolu gave the confirmation when the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ondo State council, led by the chairman, Leke Adegbite, visited him in Akure, the state capital.

The governor further disclosed that the owner of the house where the attackers stayed before the June 5 attack in Owo had also been arrested.

“We did not spare a moment. I am happy that the chief of defence staff has announced it. We have known for a while but we needed not to come out with it because more work is still ongoing. I can confirm that this arrest has been made and they are still on the trail of some of them,” he said.

Akeredolu also called on leaders of the Ebira community in the state to warn the young ones against venturing into kidnapping. He said recent reports from kidnap victims in the state have established that some Ebira indigenes are now involved in the unwholesome act.

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