It is best described as nemesis, the death of the last most wanted militant commander, Ossy Ibori who had been indicted in all the kidnap and robbery cases by militants in the Southwest especially within the Lagos – Ogun axis.
Ossy Ibori became the most wanted criminal as far back as 2013 after the gruesome murder of nine policemen whose corpses are yet to be found and the disappearance of some staff of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Arepo area of Ogun State. It was the era of militant commanders popularly known as Igbekorowa, Kakadu, TK, Agbala and others.
One by one
It was gathered that while Igbekorowa was killed in one of the fire outbreaks at the creeks, Agbala who was a dismissed policeman was granted amnesty. Although, he claimed not to have physically participated in most of the robbery cases, suspects who were arrested by the police said he had his cut from every robbery loot but preferred to stay in the creeks.
Gradually, security agencies began the mop up of the commanders. This led to the killing of Kelly who was gunned down during a shootout with policemen in Bayelsa at an event organised in his honour days after the Lekki, Lagos bank robbery in 2015.
Next was ‘Million’ who was picked up in his private house in Benin, Edo State. ‘Million’ in a bid to save his life assisted the police to mop up several militants including their arms dealers. He is now in Kirikiri Prison awaiting trial.
Not bothered by the determination of security operatives to end their reign of terror, TK, another notorious militant took over the mantle of leadership.
Before his death, militants in detention described him as a trained sharp shooter who cannot be easily arrested. His effort to get amnesty from the Federal Government failed and to send his message across, he gave security agencies especially in Lagos and Ogun sleepless nights.
He successfully raided banks in Ikorodu and Festac area of Lagos, and kidnapped as many persons as he could.
During his era, Ossy who was said to have restricted himself to Ikorodu creeks also got paid after each raid as his boys normally participated because of their expertise in theft. Ossy claimed to channel his energy into pipeline vandalisation while he also depended on the proceeds that his boys sent to him after each operation.
Sometime in 2015, the reign of terror of TK was brought to an end after a botched bank robbery operation in Ogun State. He was killed during a shootout with security agents while Lagos and Ogun states celebrated.
Ossy steps in
Naturally, Ossy took charge of the creeks and was the most respected among all other commanders in all the creeks within Lagos and Ogun states.
For months, Ossy and others went underground and decided to face pipeline vandalisation till the coming of military checkpoints, which reduced the volume of products they could smuggle out of the creeks. This development reduced their resources and forced them to resort to kidnapping.
Quest for amnesty
Meanwhile, he made efforts to reach out to the Federal Government requesting for amnesty and an opportunity to guard the pipelines. To send his message across, he unleashed his boys with instruction to attack strategic areas and schools.
His boys visited the Anglican school in Ikorodu and the Turkish school. Their daily kidnap of residents around the creeks and endless death of security operatives got national attention.
An air raid was organised which was reportedly successful. Ossy who got information days before the raid quickly moved his boys and armoury from Lagos – Ogun creeks to Ajapa in Ondo State. He also granted one of the national dailies an exclusive interview where he made known his intention to drop arms.
Within the period of wait, another leader in one of the camps, Kakadu was nabbed by the police and is now in detention.
It was gathered that efforts were made by the Lagos State government and security agencies to sit down with them and find a way to convince them to give up arms. It was gathered that the last meeting that was set up, Ossy failed to attend while Vika, another commander in the creeks was present.
Ossy relocated to Ajapa and left his second-in-command ‘America’ (who is still at large) in control of Lagos and Ogun creeks. It was ‘America’ that led the team, which attacked and killed four policemen and an Army captain who were on a rescue mission in Ikorodu recently.
Now in Ondo, Ossy refused to lie low. He went on to attack the Ajapa community while he resumed pipeline vandalisation in the area. He was shot dead in the early hours of May 1, 2017 during one of his raids.
According to a statement by Major Abdulahi Abubakar, Coordinator, Joint media campaign center, Ossy was gunned down during a gun duel, along with some of his gang members. Some locals in the area later identified his body. While the search for others who jumped into the water with gunshot wounds is ongoing, troops have recovered one AK-47 rifle and 4 magazines, the Army officer stated in their own account of what happened. He added that in the process, one gallant soldier paid the supreme price while three others sustained gunshot wounds.
On his final moments, it was gathered that Ossy decided to dare the soldiers at the military checkpoint to make a point. Unlike him, he was said to have led his team and opened fire on soldiers at the checkpoint in order to gain access in and out of the area where they wanted to attack.
Initially, they ambushed the soldiers who fled the scene and called for backup. Ossy was said to have moved in to pick arms left behind by the fleeing soldiers when one of his boys identified as Idolo Powei shot him.
It was when he screamed that it dawned on them that the person who was shot was actually Ossy. This led to confusion among the militants and while they were contemplating what to do, more soldiers stormed the area and they fled while some of them were killed.
The rise of another notorious leader ‘America’
Although Ossy is dead, there are strong indications in their camp that a much more deadly person, ‘America’ is battling to take control. It was gathered that ‘America’ who was in Lagos when the incident happened attempted to move to Ondo that night but his boat got spoilt along the way.
Suspecting foul play in the death of Ossy, he was said to have killed Vika, the only commander that is still hanging in the creeks waiting for amnesty. As a result, ‘America’ gunned down Vika with the mindset that Vika who is now in touch with the Lagos State government, could have planted a mole in the person of Idolo Powei to assassinate Ossy since he refused to agree to the terms of government for amnesty.
Still enraged, it was learnt that ‘America’ has sworn to avenge the death of his boss and has also declared Idolo wanted while most of the militants who are scared of the current leadership were said to have fled the creeks.
We will flush them all out – Police
Commending the efforts of the military in the death of Ossy, the Lagos State police spokesperson, ASP Olarinde Famous –Cole in a text message, said that the command will continue to work with sister agencies and community stakeholders to entirely get rid of elements that sustain militancy and use the creeks and waterways to facilitate their activities.