Army authorities at the 144 Battalion, Asa in Ukwa West local government of Abia state on Sunday arrested 486 persons suspected to be insurgents from some northern states.
State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Eze Chikamnayo disclosed this on Monday, while briefing newsmen at the military base in Asa on the arrest.
The Commander in-charge of the battalion, Lt.-Col. Rasheed Omolori, who was at the press briefing, also confirmed the arrest. He however declined to give further details, saying that report of the arrest had been forwarded to Army headquarters Abuja.
The commissioner explained that the suspects were moving in a motorcade of 35 Toyota Hummer buses when they were intercepted at about 2.00am on Sunday, adding that two buses escaped arrest.
Both the suspects and the impounded vehicles were being detained at the Army base in Asa. The registration numbers of the vehicles included: Jigawa RNG 98XA; Osun RLG 176XA; Kano AF 411 DAL; Lagos BDG 487 XK; Abuja EP 86 ABC and Bauchi ZAK 48 XA, among others.
According to Chikamnayo, the information commissioner, the convoy of the suspected insurgents was truncated by the Army between Arungwa Junction and Imo Gate (Abia/Rivers boundary), along the Port Harcourt – Enugu Expressway.
He explained that preliminary investigations by the army showed that the suspects, aged 16 years and above, came from Kano, Taraba and Jigawa.
Although the real mission of the suspects was not known immediately, Chikamnayo, said that further investigation would help to unravel the true mission of the suspects who, he said, claimed to be traveling to Port Harcourt “to look for work”.
“The movement is suspicious,” he said, wondering how the long motorcade traveled the long distance from the north to the east before being intercepted.
He commended the army and other security agencies in the state for being alive to their responsibility and urged their counterparts in other states to rise to the challenge, in view of the spate insecurity in the country.