The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has set up a Special Police Joint Team to immediately unravel those behind the January 1 killing in Rivers State and bring them to justice.
A statement by the Police Force Spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, on Monday said the team comprised the IGP-Intelligence Response Team, the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Force Department of Operations and the Rivers State Police Command.
A vicious and notorious kidnap for ransom and cult syndicate led by Don Waney and his gang murdered 23 people in Omoku in Rivers State.
The victims were returning from the crossover night Church service on January 1.
Moshood said the IGP-Intelligence Response Team attached to the Joint Police Special Investigation Team had engaged some of the suspects in their hideouts in Awara forest boundary between Imo and Rivers State.
He said the shootout, which lasted for several hours, resulted in the death of six of the suspects.
Others, the police spokesman said, escaped with bullet wounds to other locations in Rivers, Delta, Imo and Bayelsa State.
According to him, the police teams are currently on their trail.
Moshood said: “The IGP-Intelligence Response Team working on an actionable intelligence further identified Desmond Okotubo who escaped on January 3, 2018 to Abuja after a shootout with the Police Team in a location in Imo.
“He was trailed to Mpape in Abuja where he was arrested after serious resistance on the 9th of January, 2018.
“This principal suspect, Desmond Okotubo, 32, is a native of Egbema from Unelga Local Government Area of Rivers confessed to be one of the masterminds of the gang and actively participated in the killings of innocent people in Omoku, Rivers on the New Year day.”
Moshood said he gave further details of how they planned the operation in Awara Town, Imo State before they carried out the act.
He narrated: “The suspect, Desmond Okotubo, also revealed to the Police how their gang leader, Don Waney, gathered them and briefed them on the night of December 31, 2017 on the mission to attack and kill the residents of Omoku town.
“Thirty of them Armed with over 20 AK47 rifles crossed the river from Awara to Omoku forest and proceeded to Omoku town and opened fire on innocent citizens celebrating the New Year.”
He said that investigation was being intensified to arrest other members of the gang still at large to get to the root of the matter.
Moshood added: “The suspect will be arraigned in court on completion of investigation.”
He explained that the renewed commitment of the police to guarantee adequate protection of lives and property across the country “remains unequivocal and unwavering”.