The dreaded Igwedibia Johnson (aka “General” Don Waney), was killed yesterday.
The 43-year-old described by the military as a notorious killer, kidnapper, militant, cultist and illegal oil bunkerer had been on the run since he allegedly masterminded the New Year’s Day killing of 17 worshippers in Omoku, the headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
He was shot dead on Saturday in Enugu, Enugu State, along with two of his lieutenants— Ikechukwu Adiele and Lucky Ode— by soldiers and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The bodies of Johnson, Adiele and Ode were yesterday displayed at the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, by the division’s outgoing General Officer Commanding (GOC), Maj.-Gen. Enobong Udoh, who was accompanied by Rivers State Director of DSS Mr. Tosin Ajayi and Commissioner of Police Zaki Ahmed.
Three AK-47 rifles and eight magazines were allegedly recovered from Johnson, Adiele and Ode.
Shortly after accepting Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike’s amnesty offer, the ex-militant “General” was on December 20, 2016 conferred with the chieftaincy title of Oyirimba I of Ogbaland by the paramount ruler of Aligwu community in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, King C. Nwokocha, in his palace, for laying down his arms.
Johnson’s camp, mansion and shrines in the local government were raided on November 20, last year by 6 Division troops, who recovered 10 human skulls and various human bones, among other items. Seven suspects, including two women, were arrested.
The GOC told reporters yesterday: “In the early hours of January 1, 2018, there was a mayhem in which 22 citizens of Omoku, Rivers State were heartlessly murdered while returning from the ‘crossover service’. After that, there was a presidential directive by Mr. President (Muhammadu Buhari) that the heartless killers/perpetrators of the mayhem must be hunted down and brought to book.
“The directive was conveyed in a mandate by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, to 6 Division, to collaborate with the DSS, police and other security agencies in Rivers State to hunt down and bring to book the perpetrators of the mayhem. We collaborated and tracked down Don Waney and some of his gang members to Enugu. They were initially hiding in Imo State. We traced them to Enugu, where they rented an apartment. They lived with other people in the neighborhood like normal people. From there, they were already planning another mayhem in Omoku.
“We moved from here (Port Harcourt) and we collaborated with the GOC, 82 Division in Enugu and we were able to raid his (Johnson’s) hideout in Enugu. In the process, he was running away and our troops set at them. These are the criminals.
“Don Waney, the leader of the criminal murderous gang, was the masterminder of the January 1, 2018 massacre in Omoku, but the operation was physically led by Ikechukwu Adiele, who is among the three persons now killed. There is another person, whom I do not want to mention, that led the operation with him (Adiele). We will not rest, until we get all of them and bring them to book.”
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations of 6 Division, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, in a statement yesterday, prior to the display of the bodies, titled: “End of the road for notorious cultist, kidnapper and mass murderer, Don Waney”, stated that besides the strange discoveries of November 20, 2017 in Johnson’s camp and shrines, troops of 6 division, in continuation of the operation, on November 21, 2017 also exhumed decomposing bodies of some of his victims in his shrine.
Iliyasu said Johnson, from the relative safety of his newly-rented apartment in Enugu, was perfecting plans to unleash more mayhem in Omoku, in which he was to attack churches, schools, army and police locations and the homes of the generality of the already-traumatised people of Omoku.
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations of 6 Division, said: “Following his (Johnson’s) successful geo-location to his new Enugu neighbourhood hideout by the DSS, Rivers State Command, a combined team of troops of 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu and personnel of DSS, Rivers State Command, raided the hideout to arrest him and his accomplices.
“Incidentally, on sensing that the combined team was closing in on his residence, Don Waney, his Second-in-Command (Ikechukwu Adiele) and another gang member (Lucky Ode) attempted to escape through the back exit of the apartment and were shot down by the eagle-eyed troops in the process. One of them died on the spot while the other two, who sustained gunshot wounds, eventually died while being evacuated for medical attention.
“The remains of Don Waney and his cohorts were brought back to Port Harcourt, Rivers State by the combined team and handed over to the Rivers State Police Command, for further action.”
Iliyasu stated that authorities of 6 Division extended their condolences to the families of all the victims of the “evil Don Waney and his gang,” while solicited further cooperation of the public for information to arrest the remaining gang members to bring them to justice, for a peaceful, prosperous and secure Omoku, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, Rivers state and other parts of Niger Delta region.
The Police Commissioner said: “It is a fallacy that security agencies in Rivers State do not have the wherewithal to confront and apprehend criminals in Rivers State. Security agencies in Rivers State are collaborating. You can see the result of the synergy. The perpetrators were tracked. In an exchange of gunfire, they were gunned down.
“Security agencies are working hard to ensure that people live in harmony, in peace and go about their lawful businesses without any molestation. I can assure you that we will not rest, until when we get all the criminals arrested and brought to book.
“I want everybody to know that crime does not pay. No matter what, the long arm of the law will eventually catch up with the criminals. Don Waney and members of his gang acted as if they were above the law, but look at them now. Young people must desist from joining violent gang of criminals because, at the end of the day, the law will catch up with them and they will go.
“We are taking the battle to the hideouts of other criminals in Rivers State and we will get them arrested. Businesses and other economic activities in Omoku and its environs were crippled by Don Waney and members of his gang, but we will continue to work hand in hand with other security agencies to sanitise the areas, for businesses to pick up immediately.
“We are aware that Don Waney had many gang members (over 1,500), but we have their profiles. I can assure you that we are taking the battle to their hideouts. We know where the gang leaders and other criminals are. We are going to get them arrested and prosecuted.”
Ahmed admonished residents to continue to cooperate and collaborate with the security agencies by giving them information, which he would be treated with utmost confidentiality.