The police have arrested one Cletus Nwachukwu Egole aka Alewa, a pastor with the Holy Blessed Trinity Sabbath Church, Orlu, Imo State, in connection with the attacks on security operatives across the South-East.
Over 15 security personnel were shot dead in various attacks across the region in the month of March alone.
Many police stations have been set ablaze in the attacks while armoury have been looted.
In a statement on Sunday, Frank Mba, said Egole was arrested alongside Michael Uba, a prophet with the Association of Jewish Faith, who confessed working with two of the masterminds of the various attacks.
He said the masterminds have confessed being active members of the outlawed indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN).
Mba said in addition to providing spiritual cover for the gang, Egole’s house was used by the gang members to plan their nefarious operations and he also donated his late brother’s farmland for use as a hideout and training camp for the gang.
He named the two other suspects as Ugochukwu Samuel a.k.a Biggy, 28-year-old and native of Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State and Raphael Idang, 31, from Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River 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.
“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,” Mba said in the statement.
He added that a total of 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.
ESN members had engaged security agents in clashes that led to the killing of many, including civilians and security personnel, in Orlu area of Imo.