By Bernard Tolani Dada, Uyo
The Nigerian Army, 2 Brigade, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has arrested 17 armed youths said to be war mercenaries for Ikot Offiong community in Cross River State.
The hoodlums, who were apprehended by soldiers during raids on their hideouts on Saturday, are said to be members of sponsored and organised gang that had been terrorizing Akwa Ibom community of Ayadeghe in Oku Iboku, Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The Assistant Director, Public Relations, Brigade 2, Nigerian Army, Captain Shuaib Umar, said in Uyo on yesterday that the hoodlums were arrested with a pair of military camouflage uniform; a camouflage T shirt, and camouflage singlet.
He added that other items recovered from the suspected cultists include a cardigan, quantity 10 GSM phones; a bag of charms; a bag of clothes; one wrap of Indian hemp; the sum of N29,700; quantity two rizzler and three motorcycles.
He said: “In line with their constitutional mandate of providing aid to the civil authority, the troops of 2 Brigade Nigerian Army Uyo, conducted a successful raid operation on identified armed cultists at Uku Iboku Itu bridge, boundary between Akwa Ibom and Cross River bridge.
“During the raid a pair of military camouflage uniform, a camouflage T shirt, camouflage singlet, a cardigan, quantity 10 GSM phones, a bag of charms, a bag of clothes, one wrap of Indian hemp, the sum of N29,700, quantity 2 Rizzler and three motorcycles were recovered from the cultists.”
According to Umar, the Brigade’s commander, Brigadier General Abdu Hassan, has vowed to eradicate killings of innocent Nigerians by war mercenaries.
He said the commander has assured all law abiding citizens in the area of its preparedness to protect them and also to ensure peaceful coexistence between Ikot Offiong and Ayadeghe in Oku Iboku.
Umar said all the suspected cultists would be handed over to the police once the Brigade 2 got the signal from the army’s Headquarters.
An indigene of the Ayadeghe, Dr. Ekong Demson, said the soldiers on Saturday arrested seven more people.
He revealed that a younger brother to the current Odukpani LGA chairman in Cross River State had also been arrested.
Our correspondent gathered that since the beginning of 2017, Ikot Offiong community had used these youths to launch not less than eight attacks on Ayadeghe community resulting in death tolls of men, women, and children.
The war mercenaries were also said to have destroyed houses, vehicles, boats and outboard engines, as well as the burning down of the whole fishing community in Uruan LGA in Akwa Ibom.