The Nigerian Army said on Saturday that it has arrested 23 suspected cultists, who were conducting physical training for new recruits, initiation, robbery and kidnapping.
The army also said that it arrested 15 other persons suspected to be pipeline vandals and recovered 31 jerry cans of refined petroleum products in the process.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Enobong Udoh, stated this at a news conference at the 174 Battalion, Ikorodu area of Lagos.
Udoh, who was represented by the Brigade Commander, Brig.-Gen. Moundhey Ali, said the suspects were arrested at different times and locations.
He explained that the arrests were a result of 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 recruits, initiation and planning for robbery and kidnap activities.
“Their arrest was preceded by a 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 cultists 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 2 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, three locally-fabricated axes with nail like edges and five mobile phones.
“Also recovered from them are one parcel containing substance suspected to be Indian hemp. Others are two ATM cards, eight identity cards, nine passport photographs, packets of condom, rings and a variety of charms,’’ the statement read.