The Forward Operating Base (FOB) of the Nigerian Navy in Igbokoda, Ondo State, on Friday declared wanted, one Iwatan Bamitale and 35 others, said to be members of a gang allegedly masterminding criminal activities in the coastal areas of the state.
The FOB alleged that Bamitale, a native of Ilaje Local Government Area, and his gang were responsible for several cases of kidnapping, sea robbery, illegal bunkering, cultism, rape and killings in the area.
Commodore Danjuma Ndanusa, the Commanding Officer of the FOB, told journalists in Igbokoda, that the Navy could no longer fold its arms and watch criminals turn the coastal areas to a “volatile terrain for the law abiding citizens.”
Ndanusa alleged that Bamitale, an ex-militant, who claimed to be have repented during the amnesty programme, “engaged in all sorts of nefarious activities in the riverine and coastal areas.’
The Navy boss also alleged that Bamitale and his gang had been dispossessing local fishermen of their outboard engines and valuables as well as causing havoc to vessels plying Warri/Escravos/Ondo/Lagos and Ogun states.
He said: “On Oct. 27, 2019, Bamitale and his gang kidnapped five merchant vessel captains from Escravos and brought them to an unknown hideout in Awoye in Ilaje Local Government Area. It took the intervention of the FOB to rescue the victims.
“Intelligence reports have it that the kidnappers who killed four Nigerian Navy personnel and abducted three foreign nationals on board MV AMBIKA on Jan. 2, 2020 at Agge Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, were on their way to link with Bamitale and his cohorts before the FOB foiled their plan and rescued the victims on Jan. 8, 2020.
“Intelligence report also have it that the rifles of the four Navy personnel killed on Jan. 2, 2020 are in the possession of Bamitale’s gang as cache of arms and ammunitions are in their possession.
“Also, several cultist killings and rape cases in Igbokoda and its environs were reportedly masterminded by Bamitale and his cohorts.”
Ndanusa also said that three members of Bamitale’s gang: Odun Ogunse (Akaba), Sunday Adeojo (Gatuso) and ThankGod Edema (Adono) had been arrested by the FOB and handed over to the Department of State Security Services (DSS) for further investigations.
The Navy boss listed the remaining gang members on the wanted list as: Mayowa Iletuwa (Commander), Akinwunmi Ebifemi (Espanyol), Ayanfe Ogundeji (Flatter Boy), Itunu Obiade (36 Kiniun), Mayowa Omowunmi (Kolabo) and Bamigbe Ogunyemi.