Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
Troops of the Joint Military Task Force, codenamed Operation Delta Safe, say they have killed a notorious militant leader, Peregbakumo Oyawerikumo, also known as Karowei, and unspecified number of his gang members in a gun battle.
Karowei was said to have been the mastermind of the decapitation of an operative of the Department of State Services and the killing of four soldiers in Toru-Ndoro in Ekeremor Local Government of Bayelsa State recently.
The militants’ kingpin was reportedly arrested by the OPDS troops on Thursday at his maternal home at Edegbene, Burutu LGA, Delta State.
The Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, OPDS, Major Ibrahim Abdullahi, in a statement on Friday, said after his arrest, Karowei confessed to several criminal acts.
Abdullahi said after the confession, the kingpin led troops to his camp to recover the cache of arms and ammunition in his possession as well as to persuade other members of his gang to surrender.
But the OPDS spokesman said, “However, in a twist of events, Karowei’s recalcitrant group laid an ambush and attacked JTF troops in a gun battle at his camp, deep in the forest.
“The ambush was in a bid to rescue Karowei from own troops. The superior firepower, resilience and gallantry of own troops, countered that snap attack which resulted in the death of several of Karowei’s henchmen and the kingpin (Karowei) who tried to flee to rejoin his cohorts.”
Abdullahi recalled that Karowei and his criminal gang abducted four British missionaries on October 13, 2017 in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State which led to the unfortunate death of one of the Britons, Mr Ian Squire.
He said that Karowei and his gang were also responsible for several abductions/kidnappings, robberies, piracy and raping of innocent women in the region including unprovoked attacks on military locations in Delta and Bayelsa states.
He said January 7, 2018, Karowei and his gang attacked own troops at Toru-Ndoro forest which led to the death of four military personnel attached to the security outfit.
Abdullahi added, “The Commander, OPDS, Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, deeply appreciates the support of the locals within communities in Burutu LGA of Delta State and Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State in finally uprooting this notorious criminal, who in conjunction with his gang has constituted serious security menace around the general area.
“The Commander also wishes to seek additional selfless support from law-abiding citizens to uproot all criminals causing mayhem within the Niger Delta. He urges all to go about their legitimate business as the waterways are now safe and secure.
“Furthermore, he assures the local communities of the task force’s commitments to stem all criminalities in the Niger Delta in line with the mandate of the Chief of Defence Staff as well as strategic expectations of the JTF.”