Operatives of Ondo State Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, have arrested four suspects over the burning of the agency’s operational vehicle and motorcycles at Ago Sanusi, in Owo Local Government Area of the state.
The Commander,Amotekun Corps in the state, Adetunji Adeleye, who disclosed this during a press conference in Akure, the Ondo State capital on Saturday, said the four suspects were also arrested in connection with the killing of a farmer and a member of the vigilante group in the village.
It would be recalled that a farmer and a member of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria were murdered by suspected herdsmen on Thursday, while the operational vehicle and motorcycles belonging to Amotekun were set ablaze.
Adeleye who did not reveal the identities of the suspects due to ongoing investigations, said they were arrested inside a forest reserve around.
The Amotekun boss, however, said that the arrested suspects were not herdsmen, but he explained that the armed herders who were sighted in the forest took to their heels upon sighting his men.
He said: “We didn’t arrest any herder in Owo. The people arrested were people we suspected were connected to the arson, but we’ll look at it as murder and arson as well as wanton destruction of property. We arrest four within the first one hour of the incident there.
“On the issue of arrest, we arrested a number of suspects that are directly connected from the preliminary investigations with either kidnapping, illegal mining, armed robbery in the farmland and farm destruction.
“We’re working on that and in the appropriate time, they will be handed over to the relevant security agencies for further investigations and prosecution where necessary.”
He dispelled the rumour making the rounds that some Amotekun Corps were killed during the operation in the forest reserve, saying the coordinator of the operation in Owo, Sesan Adebayo, was neither kidnapped nor missing as speculated.
“In one of the operations that we’re involved in, it’s alleged that so many members of the Ondo State Security Network Agency, Amotekun Corps were killed.
“I want to say that not a single soul out of the ones I recruited died at any point in time. And specifically on the Owo/ Ute incident, no single member of the corps or officer died during this particular operation.
“There was actually no crossfire between the herdsmen and Amotekun Corps. We’re invited into a crime zone. There was a distress call that made our men move into the forest reserve. On getting there, we parked our vehicle at a nearby village and had to trek into the forest to areas where they were troubles.
“By the time we got there, we find out that a farmer and a vigilante member also with the farmer on the same farm had been killed. We also found out that there were lots of destructions of farmlands around the place,” Adeleye said.
He continued:“A couple of days before, we went on an operation to review the nefarious activities going on in the forest inclusive of illegal mining and very large plantation of Indian Hemp. So, the area where the crisis actually happened was predominantly occupied by the workers of this dastardly act.
“What I mean by that is some of them are either working as kidnappers or working as illegal miners. A good number of them also had their cattle destroying the farm settlement and the farm around.
“In the cause of the quarrel, they went to a nearby village and even set it ablaze and our vehicle happened to be parked around that same village which they set ablaze.
“This was exactly what happened and that operation was led by me and supervised by my coordinator for Owo Local Government. This is the same person that had been alleged to have been killed or missing. His name is Sesan Adebayo. Not one of his boys was killed. Not one of the boys that left the headquarters with me died.
“In our sojourn into the forest, we actually met a lot of herders with large herds of cattle and the majority of them carried sophisticated weapons on the cattle and on themselves.
“We didn’t even go for that operation alone, we went in collaboration with other sister security agencies like the police and we all saw them.
“But on our approach, they ran the other way. I think it was when they ran that way and they saw that we had enter far into the forest that they went to burn that village and the people there, probably thinking they were the people that gave us information. But actually, they were not. We set up our intelligence in the forest and we’re able to trace them.”