Three suspects have been arrested for allegedly detonating explosives at the Christian Universal Church International in Rivers State. The church is shepherded by J.N.E. Wike, the father of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
This is as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for an investigation into the attack. Vigilantes said five suspects planted the explosives at the church located at Mile 3, Diobu, a densely populated area in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area on Saturday night.
They said that while two of the suspects managed to escape, they apprehended three of them who they later handed over to the police. There was no church service in session during the explosion, thus nobody was killed or injured, said one of the vigilantes.
The Assistant Chief Security Officer of the Azikiwe Street Security, Collins Johnbull, said a member of his team was hit by a bullet while chasing the suspects and that he was currently receiving treatment in the hospital.
He said: “On Saturday, 28th day of November, 2020, while I was on my duty post, we observed some movements about 8pm to 9pm and we were on the alert. Before then, we saw some strange faces, about five of them, that entered into the governor’s father’s church and we thought they were church members having their normal evening programme, but we were suspicious of them because of the way they were moving.
“About five minutes after the boys entered the church, there was an explosion, we heard a banging noise like that of a bomb from the church and we immediately approached the church and saw them (the suspects) jump out of the church.
(They were) wearing masks and carrying guns and started shooting at my men. “By God’s grace, we were able to apprehend three of the criminals that attacked the church, while two escaped.
We did everything in our power to apprehend the hoodlums. As we are talking now, one of my men who was hit by a bullet is receiving treatment.” The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni, also confirmed the incident.
Omoni said the three arrested persons were in police custody and helping with the investigation. He said: “Three suspects are currently in police custody over the incident. They are currently helping the police with the investigation.”
The PPRO added that the police had deployed men of the Anti-Bomb Unit in the area. Meanwhile, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement that the attack was targeted to cause harm to worshippers and persons close to Governor Wike, particularly, his father.
Ologbondiyan alleged that the intentions of the attackers in detonating an explosive in a religious place particularly given the large number of people that usually gather at such places.
He said: “While we demand a thorough investigation into the attack as well as prosecution of all those involved, we hold, as a party, that the time has come, more than ever in our contemporary history, for the amendment of our extant laws to allow state governors to be in charge of the security of their respective states.