From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, yesterday, paraded one of the masterminds and a senior member of the deadly cult group that massacred some innocent worshippers in Omoku village, Rivers State on New Year day.
The suspect, 32-year old Desmond Okotubo, who is a father of three, hails from Egbenma in Onelga Local Government Area of Rivers State. He said the group embarked on the deadly attack to avenge the arrest and humiliation of the mother of their leader, late Don Waney, the deceased leader of the group, the destruction of his property in the state, and to teach the vigilante group in the town a lesson for daring their leader.
Okotubo, who is now in custody of the police, however, revealed that their plan to attack the town was hatched at Owerri, Imo State and that their real target was the members of the vigilante group.
He said they never planned to attack worshippers who had just closed from the cross over service, but somehow the operation just went wrong.
The suspect, who was paraded before newsmen, promised to help government fish out the rest of the members of the gang. He explained that he did not know if their late leader was being used by some politicians to cause trouble in the state.
He told journalists in an interview: “It was Don Waney that did it. We followed Don Wanny and he has a group that he gave gun to shoot called Red Squad. I did not hold any gun and I don’t know about it but he has a group called Red Squad.
“The Red Squad members are from Imo and Rivers states and they are the ones that shoot and kill. I know those that shot and killed those people. I know many people that belong to the party.
“I followed them during the killing. When Don Wanny got back, he stopped at Awara village, Imo State and it was there everybody assembled before going to Omoku. I followed them to Omoku but they did not give me gun. Don Wanny had problem with the vigilante group because they arrested his mother and also destroyed his house. That was why he came back to take revenge and kill those people at Omoku. I did not feel fine as they did not give me gun”
“I was at Mpape in Abuja before I was arrested. I travelled to Owerri on December 28 and came back January 3. We were not given money after the attack and nobody promised to give me money. We have over 15 to 20 members in the gang. I don’t have a position in the group; I am just a member and all I do is to follow the executives of the gang.
“We have one Tuga, who is in charge of our armory and we have over 20 guns and I am the only member of the gang living in Abuja. It was when I traveled for the Christmas that I was told Don Wanny was back and that he wanted to take revenge on how they burnt his property. I met them at Owerri, where all the Red Squad gathered and he shared the guns amongst them. After that, we proceeded to Awara village and stayed there for sometime before traveling to Omoku to kill.
“I meet Don Wanny in 2015 through one of his brothers, Pruchukwu. The brother used to live in Owerri but I don’t know where he is now because I have not seen him since his brother died. I cannot tell weather or not the killings were politically motivated. I cannot speak on that. May be it was Don Wanny that did that negotiation, not me.
“We, in the group, have not reached the level of negotiating with politicians. It is Don Wanny and his executives that do that. All the meetings we had before the attack were held at Awara.
“Before the Omoku attack, we had carried out an attack after the 2015 elections. Even before the elections, many things happened in the state because we carried out many operations. I am married and I have three children. My wife is in the village at Egbema.
“We actually went to attack the village and not the church but Don Wanny changed the plans when we got there and I feel so bad that so many people died. But from the way I am now, I am ready to work with government and help them to fish out all the people that are members of the gang.”
The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said the suspect was arrested by men of the IGP-Intelligence Response Team attached to the Joint Police Special Investigation Team, which engaged some of the suspects in their hideouts in Awara forest, a boundary between Imo and Rivers states, in a shoot out that lasted several hours.
Jimoh said six of the suspects were killed while others escaped with bullet injuries to other locations in Rivers, Delta, Imo and Bayelsa states. He added that the police teams are currently on their trail.
He said: “The IGP-Intelligence Response Team working on an actionable intelligence further identified Desmond Okotubo, who escaped on January 3, 2018 to Abuja after a shoot out with the Police Team in a location in Imo State.