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Army arrest 23 suspected cultists, 15 others

NEWS DIGEST – The Nigerian Army on Saturday said it arrested 23 suspected cultists preparing for initiation alongside 15 others for related offences.

The General Officer Commanding, 81 Division, Maj. Gen. Enobong Udoh, told journalists at 174 Battalion, Ikorodu, Lagos State, that soldiers also recovered 31 jerry cans filled with petroleum products from the suspects.

Udoh, who was represented by the 9 Brigade Commander, Brig.-Gen. Moundhey Ali, said the suspects were arrested at different locations following intensive surveillance and intelligence report.

“In continuation of the crackdown on criminal elements and cultists in and around Lagos and Ogun States, the troops of 81 Division arrested 23 suspected cultists in Ikorodu area on April 16.

“Over 50 suspected cultists from “Eiye” confraternity were conducting physical training for new recuits, initiation and planning for robbery and kidnap activities.

“Their arrest was preceded by shootout between the troops of 174 Battalion Ikorodu and the cultists after which 23 of the suspected cultists were arrested while others escaped,” he said.

The GOC said that two of the suspects sustained gunshot wounds, adding that one of the suspected newly recruited cultist died as a result of injuries inflicted on him during the cult initiation.

“However, one of our gallant soldiers, while combatting the cultists sustained a gunshot wound on his left leg during the encounter and was immediately evacuated.

“The soldier and the two wounded cultists are receiving treatment at the Battalion’s Medical Reception Station.

“Items recovered from the suspects include one locally made double barrel pistol, five live cartridges, five machetes, four Jack knives, two table knives, two locally fabricated axes with nail-like edges, five mobile phones.

“Also recovered from them are one parcel containing substance suspected to be Indian hemp; others are one ATM card, eight identity cards, nine passport photographs, packets of condom, rings and a variety of charms,” the GOC said.

The GOC said that troops of the 81 Division also raided some suspected pipeline vandals at Ilara and Imagbon areas of Ikorodu to stop their sabotage activities on the nation’s pipeline.

“The suspected vandals armed with AK-47 rifles fired sporadically and fled on sighting troops.

“During the operation, sabotaged portions of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines were observed in the General Area of Imoro Creek in Imagbon.

”Items recovered from them include: one wooden boat, 40 empty 50 liters Jerry Cans and a 1000m long laid hose ostensibly used in siphoning products by the suspected vandals.

“The recovered items were destroyed and no arrest was made,” he said.

The GOC also said that seven impersonators were also arrested alongside eight suspected vandals on April 17 within Lagos and Ogun State.

“While on anti bunkering patrol along Imoro Creek in Ikorodu, troops discovered sabotaged points along the NNPC pipeline including a loading area in the creek for siphoned products where eight suspected vandals were arrested.

“Items recovered from them include; 10 Vehicles, 31 jerry cans loaded with refined products, 77 empty jerry cans, 3 coolers, nine mobile phones and substances suspected to be hard drugs.

“Another set of 1,320 empty Jerry cans were also discovered and destroyed.

“In addition, seven suspected impostors were arrested by troops while on operation CHECKMATE,” he said.

Udoh thanked the general public and indeed the people of Lagos and Ogun states for their continued cooperation, while urging them to always give timely information that would help the division in its operations.

“The suspects are undergoing preliminary investigation after which they will be handed over to the appropriate security agencies for further investigation and prosecution.(NAN)