Desmond Okutubo

The Nigeria Police Force has shed light on how it nabbed Desmond Okutubo, a cultist and senior member of the kidnap syndicate responsible for the New Year’s Day murder of over 20 people in Omoku, Rivers State. The syndicate was led by Don Wanny, who has since been killed.

A statement signed by Jimoh Moshood, Police spokesman, explained that Okutubo was arrested through the efforts of a Police joint investigation team, comprising the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team, Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Force Department of Operations and the Rivers State Police Command. According to the statement, they were ordered by the IGP to immediately find those behind the killings and bring them to justice.

Following the order, the statement said, the IGP Intelligence Response Team attached to the Joint Police Special Investigation Team engaged some of the suspects in their hideouts in Awara Forest on the boundary between Imo and Rivers states.

In the ensuing shoot-out, which lasted hours, said the Police, six members of the gang were killed, while others escaped with injuries to communities in Rivers, Delta, Imo and Bayelsa states, where the Police are currently trailing them.

The Police added that the IGP Intelligence Response Team, using reliable intelligence, later identified Okotubo, who had escaped on 3 January to Abuja after a shoot-out with the Police team in Imo State. He was trailed to Mpape in Abuja, where he was arrested on 9 January after putting up stiff resistance.

Okotubo, 32, is said to hail from Egbenma in Unelga Local Government Area of Rivers State. He was said to have confessed to the Police to be one of the masterminds of Omoku killings.

“He further gave details of how they planned the Operation in Awara Town, Imo State before they carried out the act. He revealed to the Police how their gang leader, Don Wanny, gathered them and briefed them on the night of 31 December 2017 on the mission to attack and kill the residents of Omoku town,” said the Police.

A total of 30 gang members, the Police quoted Okutubo as saying, took part in the killings. They were armed with over 20 AK-47 rifles, crossed the river from Awara to Omoku forest and headed to Omoku town, where they murdered people returning from church. The Police disclosed that investigations are being ramped up to ensure the arrest of gang members still at large. Okutubo will be arraigned in court on completion of the investigation.

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