Killing of Rivers Cult Leader and Another Lost Opportunity

By killing another notorious leader of a dreaded cult group, Gift David Okpara Okpolowu, a.k.a 2-Baba, in a shootout, the Rivers State Police Command has lost another opportunity to unmask the alleged powerful politicians sponsoring violent crimes in the state.  Ejiofor Alike writes that two other cult leaders, Johnson Igwedibia, better known as Don Waney, and Honest Digbara, also known as Bobosky, were killed under suspicious circumstances without having the opportunity to expose their alleged powerful sponsors 

The Rivers  State Police Command recently recorded a major victory against the criminal elements terrorising the state with the killing of a notorious cult leader, David Gift Okpara, also known as 2-Baba.

The late kidnap kingpin was the prime suspect in the murder of a former Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ahoada Local Government Area (LGA) of the state, SP Bako Angbashim in September 2023.

Okpara was said to have led the Icelanders, one of the most violent criminal gangs in the state that beheaded the gallant police officer in Odiemudie community in the LGA.

Angbashim was ambushed and captured by the gang, who dismembered his body and recorded the video with impunity and confidence, fuelling the speculations that they had powerful backers.

After the embarrassing incident, the police declared them wanted and also carried out constant land and air bombardments in the various hideouts of the Iceland cult leader, even as some of his lieutenants were also gunned down in shootouts.

But citing intelligence reports, the spokesperson for the state police command, Grace Iringe-Koko, in a statement issued last month revealed that the wanted cult kingpin was killed in a joint security raid in the Idu-Ekpeye community, Ahoada East LGA

The police imagemaker said 2-Baba was killed on February 17 when the police raided his camp following their attack on Okogbe town and Odiokwu community in Ahoada West LGA, where they destroyed pipelines earlier in the day.

Irinke-Koko, a Superintendent of Police, also said a human skull, assorted rifles, explosives, and various charms, among others, were recovered during the last raid in his new hideout, which culminated in his death.

The statement listed other items recovered from the camp to include one AK-47 rifle, one G3 rifle, one scorpion rifle, one double-barrel locally-made gun, and two locally-made pistols.

Others are one cut-to-size double barrel gun, one bullet proof vest, 13 pieces of dynamite, five rounds of .9mm live ammunition, 10 Army camouflage, 11 assorted charms, one human skull and one jack-knife.”

“Efforts are in progress to retrieve the body of the infamous killer, while investigations into the Iceland cult’s activities in the region continue,” the statement added.

However, a few days later on February 23, the operatives of the Tactical Units of the state police command recovered his decomposing remains in a shallow grave at Ebrass community of Ahoada-West LGA.

Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, the Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, who was represented by the PPRO, Iringe-Koko, expressed gratitude to everyone who played a part in the operation and also promised that the police would continue operations to apprehend other members of 2-baba’s gang and dismantle any remaining criminal networks.

Before his death, he kept terrorising communities and companies in the Ahoada axis of the state and demanding various sums of money from households.

The state police command had earlier recovered four 20KVA power-generating sets he seized from a company.

He seized the four 20KVA generators from a company for not paying him N20 million ‘matching ground’ fee, an illegal levy imposed on persons or organisations by cultists in the state.

But the police, in their operation, had recovered the property and other valuables from 2-Baba’s hideout earlier before the operation that led to his death.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Operations, Olubenga Adepoju, while handing over the four 20KVA generators, said 2-Baba was demanding N5 million for each of the equipment.

While the police were being celebrated for their gallantry, security analysts were also concerned that all the wanted cult leaders in the state were killed under circumstances that robbed the Force of the opportunity to unmask the powerful politicians behind these dangerous groups.

Though the killing of 2-Baba might not appear suspicious, given the circumstances surrounding it, the previous killing of two other wanted cult leaders were believed to have been carried out to prevent them from exposing the powerful political leaders sponsoring them.

The state government had offered a N200 million bounty for the arrest of the kidnap kingpin and cultist, Don Waney, who was linked with the killing of 23 people in Omoku area of the state on January 1, 2018.

Waney, whose real name was Johnson Igwedibia, was later killed at a hideout in Enugu by the military without having the opportunity to expose his powerful backers.

In August 2019, the then Governor Nyesom Wike had promised a N30 million reward for any useful information that would lead to the arrest of another kidnap kingpin and cultist, Honest Digbara, a.ka. Bobosky.

But Bobosky, who was the leader of a notorious criminal gang in Gokana LGA of the state, later died under suspicious circumstances that fuelled allegations of cover-up of his sponsors, having been denied the opportunity to spill the beans.

The then state Commissioner of Police (CP), Joseph Mukan, had announced that Bobosky was arrested in an operation with the assistance of vigilantes in the Ogoni neighbourhood.

After the shootout and subsequent arrest, he was paraded at the headquarters of the Command on Moscow Road, Port Harcourt.

But in a strange twist, he was later declared dead by the police who said he succumbed to the multiple gunshot injuries sustained during the shootout.

Bobosky died in police custody without naming his sponsors.

Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, Rivers State has been breeding deadly cultists who enjoy the strong backing of politicians.

Security reports suggest that some of these cultists also masquerade as fighters for the emancipation of the oil-producing region and engage in oil theft, pipeline vandalism and other forms of criminalities.

But their primary assignment is to intimidate and kill political opponents and perpetrate electoral violence during elections to ensure the victory of their sponsors.

Records have shown that the state government only declares the leaders of these gangs wanted when they commit heinous crimes that embarrass the state and the country.

The killing of Waney and other gang leaders in similar circumstances without extracting useful information that could help in arresting their powerful sponsors have fuelled the suspicion that they might have been silenced to prevent them from spilling the beans.

A former Commissioner of Police in the state, Emeka Nwonyi, had also confirmed what had always been known that prominent politicians were behind the deadly criminal gangs terrorising the state.

The then commissioner had vowed that such politicians must be identified and prosecuted

The question is: When will the Rivers State Police Command unmask the powerful politicians that turned the state into a breeding ground for deadly criminal gangs?

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