The Imo State government has given reasons for the arrest of some priests and leaders of white garment churches – Cherubim and Seraphim and Sabbath Missions – in some council areas in Orlu by soldiers.
It said members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) perpetrating crimes in Orlu used the white garment churches as cover for their nefarious activities.
The Nation had reported over 30 clerics were arrested by security forces battling IPOB members in Orlu.
Rumours have been rife the pastors were arrested for allegedly preparing ‘odieshi’ charm for members of IPOB, which reportedly made it impossible for bullets to penetrate operatives of Eastern Security Network (ESN).
But, addressing reporters in Owerri, the state capital, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Cyprian Akaolisa, explained the church leaders were arrested because they harboured hoodlums against whom the military operation in Orlu was initiated.
Akaolisa said: “If you investigate the activities of some of these churches, you will understand that over time, hoodlums establish and use such churches as front for their nefarious activities.
“We have records that armed robbers have been hanging out as pastors; in the night they will go for their operations but in the day they wear their garments and use such white garment churches”.
Though, the commissioner could not mention the number of clerics or suspects arrested so far, The Nation learnt that no fewer than 33 clerics and church elders have been whisked away from different white garment churches in the Orlu area with a church razed to the ground while others were riddled and totally defaced with high caliber military firearms.
At Our Lord’s Sabbath Mission, Umunam Atta in Njaba LGA, a superintending priest, whose community leaders had vouched for his exemplary conduct, was whisked away with his adolescent daughter and pastors.
At the House of Prayer International Covenant Church, some painters were among the 10 persons whisked away by soldiers who stormed the church around 6am shooting from all sides
Meanwhile, the State Government has accused Okorocha of doing nothing in the face of the crisis in Orlu, calling for his investigation.
Akaolisa said: “It was unfortunate that the senator representing Orlu said nothing throughout the period Orlu people were being killed, he said nothing.
“Throughout the period policemen were being killed, he said nothing. But last week I saw his press statement when he visited the House of one traditional ruler and said the monarch was molested when the police asked him to lie on the ground because he failed to identify himself properly. That is what attracted the senator representing Orlu, Chief Rochas Okorocha.”
The Attorney General continued: “Orlu was burning and people were losing their lives and he said nothing. Is that the kind of representation we need at the senate? I will call on the authorities to investigate the activities of Rochas Okorocha to ascertain whether he is involved in what is happening in Orlu.
‘’Okorocha’s silence raises a lot of questions. He went to pay courtesy visit to a monarch for laying on the ground, did he pay any visit to the families of the slain policemen and other citizens of Orlu killed during the crisis?”
But Okorocha’s media adviser, Sam Onwuemeodo, said the Senator was still studying the development and would react appropriately.