Fresh facts are coming out on how a combined team of heavily armed soldiers and policemen were able to nab and kill the commander of a deadly terrorist gang and kidnap squad in Obon Ebot village, Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Otobong Moses.
Apart from what he was doing in his village, the terrorist was said to have engaged in criminal activities in Ikot Ibekwe and Ikot Unah villages in Ukanafun Local Government. Some years ago, leader of a terror gang from Ikot Ibekwe, popularly called Iso Akpafid had been killed in the wake of the crisis in that local government.
Penultimate week, Moses was said to have gone into Ikot Ibekwe, hometown of the late Iso Akpafid and burnt some houses. From there, he was said to have gone to Ikot Unah. Sources said what may have led to the latest criminal activities was the theft of a generator belonging to someone at Ikot Ibekwe, by hoodlums believed to be working with Moses.
The owner of the generator was said to have challenged the boys and asked them to return his generator. But rather than return the generator, Moses was said to have ordered them to go back to Ikot Ibekwe and bring down the building of anybody who challenged them.
For about two weeks, some natives of Ikot Ibekwe were forced to flee their homes when Moses’ lieutenants continued to terrorise the village and the neighbouring village of Ikot Unah. That was how a report was lodged before security operatives who decided to mobilise against Moses, a known member of the Iceland Confraternity.
It was learnt that Moses was into the business of kidnapping while he was alive. Shallow graves were suspected victims were buried were found everywhere in his compound, on the day the joint security action was taken in his Obon Ebot home, leading to his death.
Before he was caught, Moses was said to have turned into a cat and was running around the compound for hours, before turning into a vulture and trying to escape from the roof of his house.
A top security operative who was privy to the operations that led to his death confided in TNN that there was an insider information on what they needed to do before they could catch and kill him.
The source did not give details of what was done before the soldiers’ bullet was able to bring him down. But TNN learnt that Moses was caught alive by the operatives before the decision to finish him.
Two of his boys were also brought down. Moses was said to have said ‘It is over,’ when he was caught. But before he could mutter any more words, he was brought down, putting an end to years of his terrorism.
There were different information about his relationship with the late Iso Akpafid. While one source said Moses was part of the boys that Iso Akpafid brought up, another source said they were actually not in talking terms as at the day Iso Akpafid was killed some years ago.
One source even told TNN that Moses was in the process of recruiting more disciples to work with him ahead of the 2023 elections before his death. The source also said Moses was desirous of showing himself as a stronger commander, compared to what Iso Akpafid did, hence his decision to cause some havoc in Ikot Ibekwe.
Sources told TNN that the dreaded kidnapper was caught after series of complaints against him and his activities.
The Assistant Director in-charge of Army Public Relations at 2 Brigade, Capt. Samuel Akari, had told journalists that two of his gang members were captured alive, adding that two kidnapped victims were also rescued with assorted ammunition recovered at the end of the operations.
He listed the items to include assorted charms, sub-machine guns, magazines, 67 rounds of 9mm ammunition, two motorcycles, 16 mobile phones, one AK-47 rifle, magazine with 30 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and 9 machetes.
Besides, two military monkey jackets, one helmet strapped with military camouflage, one military police beret, one police camouflage fez cap, one military-pull over, ATM cards, two TV sets, a standing fan, decoder and four generating sets were recovered.
His words: “The raid operation was as a result of sustained surveillance of the activities of the notorious kingpin and his syndicate.
“The first phase of the operations was conducted on May 12, and during the operation, troops raided the criminal hideout, but on sighting the troops, the criminals abandoned their hideout and fled.
“The gallant troops rescued the kidnapped victims and arrested other collaborators and set ablaze the shrine, the hideout and assorted charms.
“Further investigation revealed that the criminal gang is known for terrorizing the locals, kidnapping them for ransom, killing and burying others who could not pay the ransom in shallow graves.”
Expectedly, there has been jubilation in Obon Ebot and neighbouring villages. One of the villagers, Imaobong Akpan was reported to have told journalists that Moses “used used to hold court and administer judgment of people in his palace. If a husband errs, according to his ruling, you will be flogged by your wife and fine imposed on you. If you are not able to pay the fine, your property would be seized. It is a big relief for us in Obon Ebot village because the village can no longer preside over cases.
Another native, Eteudobong Inyang said “he was in the habit of raping people with his gang members and most of his activities were encourage by our local politicians her, who used him against political opponents in election season like this.”
A village head, who would not want his name in print, lamented said: “I have been chased away from my palace several times by these gangsters’.
“They would stop harvesting of the village palm trees for a year. After that Oto will order his gang members to harvest them and sold to village women with all the proceeds seized.”
The combined security forces have already brought down Moses’ house, including the sentry where his guards used to monitor people coming into the expansive compound.
It was suspected that many of the kidnap victims may have been buried in the building. Even though it is speculated that no fewer than 20 people must have been buried in that compound, TNN could not confirm the exact number of victims buried there.