â€¢ Suspects planned abductions, killings in Lagos, Ondo, Ogun
â€¢One soldier killed, three wounded during operation
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
In what the military designated to fight criminalities in the Niger Delta described as a major victory on Monday, â€˜Generalâ€™ Ossy Ibori, a wanted criminal suspect, and several of his lieutenants were killed in a gun duel with soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe.
The leader of an inter-state gang which operated from the creeks of the Niger Delta through Ondo, Ogun and Lagos States, it was gathered, died from bullet wounds during the encounter when he attempted to attack a military location in Ese-Odo, Ondo State.
Ibori, 40, THISDAY learnt on Monday, planned and executed the much publicised abduction of some staff and students of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe; masterminded others in Ogun and killed a pregnant woman and her child in Festac Town last year.
Among several other operations, Iboriâ€™s gang was also said to have planned to bomb the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, before some of his boys who confessed to the crime were picked up by the police in December and flown to Abuja.
The military disclosed that Ibori also planned and executed the kidnap of three school girls at Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School in Ikorodu, the abduction of four landlords in Isheri, that of Oniba of Ibaland, Oba Goriola Oseni and several others in Lagos.
â€œTroops of Operation Delta Safe in line with its mandate to rid Niger Delta of all criminal acts of militancy and kidnapping in a special operation repelled an attack on troops location around Ajakpa community in the creeks of Southern Ondo State last night.
â€œThe attack was led by one notorious gang leader, Ossy Ibori, with a hideout at Ajakpa, Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
â€œThe leader was gunned down during the gun duel along with some of his gang members. His body was identified by some of the locals in the area,â€ Major Abubakar Abdullahi, spokesman of the Joint Media Campaign Centre, told journalists in Yenagoa on Monday.
Abdullahi added that the search for several other suspected criminals who jumped into the water with gunshot wounds was ongoing, noting that troops had recovered one AK-47 rifle and four magazines.
In October last year, the deceased suspect, who contacted a national newspaper, told one of the editors that he hailed from Kaima in Bayelsa State, disclosing that he had been into the criminal enterprise since 1998.
He admitted attacking a police station in Lagos, because the law enforcement agents continued to arrest his boys after he allegedly had a deal to shield his gang.
The late Ibori said his group attacked pipelines, Federal SARS and civil defence in the creeks of Lagos, and Ogun States in Irekpete, Gburumu, Arepo, Ibafo, Majidun, Ajegunle and Abule Egba.
While boasting of a strong army of 21 â€˜generalsâ€™ and 7,800 foot soldiers, â€˜Generalâ€™ Ibori had insisted that if the â€œfederal government fails to dialogue with us, we are ready to bring down the economy of Lagos and Ogun Statesâ€.
In addition, Major Abdullahi, the JTF spokesman, said the deceased and his gang carried out several bank robberies in Lagos and Ogun States, and threatened more violence if they were not given pipeline protection contracts.
â€œIt could be recalled that criminal gangs led by late Ibori have been terrorising parts of Lagos, Ogun and Ondo States prior to this operation. They committed many atrocities threatening the peace and security of the general areas.
â€œLast month, the gang killed an army captain and two policemen at Ikorodu. Also, late last year, they abducted students and staff of a secondary school. The criminals in addition, carried out several attacks on Ese-Odo community around Ajakpa,Safarogbo and Balowo areas.
â€œThe need to flush them out from their hideout became necessary to ensure peace and security in Ondo State,â€ the JTF said.
Unfortunately, he said, the military lost a soldier while others were wounded.
â€œSadly, in the process, one gallant soldier paid the supreme price while three others sustained gunshot wounds. They have since been moved to a military hospital for proper medical attention.
He said the operation was still ongoing and advised the affected communities to remain calm, vigilant and support the troops with valuable information on the whereabouts of other criminals.