Efforts by the notorious cult leader, Gift David, commonly referred to as 2Baba, to distance himself from the brutal murder of the Ahoada East Divisional Police Officer (DPO) SP. Bako Angbasim, have triggered resentment within the state.
SP Bako was killed on September 8, 2023 while leading an operation to the Odiemude community in Ahoada East LGA of the state.
His killers identified as members of the Icelander cult group decapitated and dismembered his body and subjected his remains to a caricature in a viral video.
About 50 persons, including a monarch and former LGA chairman were arrested by the police and arraigned for the killing of the gallant police officer.
The state police command has been making frantic efforts to recover the remains of Bako to no avail.
2Baba was declared wanted for leading the members of his Icelander cult that killed and dismembered Bako, who was known as a tough professional crime fighter.
He was declared wanted by the police with N100m bounty placed on his head by the state government.
But rattled by the ongoing operations by the police to arrest him culminating in the killing of other members of his gang and nabbing of his second in command in Bayelsa State, 2Baba in a daring move released a voice note claiming his innocence in Bako’s murder.
He claimed that he once accepted amnesty but returned to cultism when members of his group were being killed by the rival cult group.
He further said that on the fateful day, he spoke with Bako but did not disclose the content of their discussion.
He said: “I want to tell the Rivers State Government that I am not involved in anything concerning the death of DPO. I didn’t want to say anything all this while. But I decided to speak out because of the way people were talking about it.
“I was surprised and I want to tell people that I was not after the DPO and I’m not involved in his death. It is just that the incident happened in my community road. And the day it (killing) occurred I spoke with him. I and the DPO discussed. I was not even there when he was killed that day and I was shocked when I heard about the incident.
He added: “We submitted all the arms and ammunition we have, but our opposition refused to submit. And I saw that the government didn’t do anything about it. So my gang started regretting our decision to submit our arms.
“So since we longer have weapons, our rivals now used the advantage to be trailing us and killing members of my gang. They killed my younger brother of the same parents and burnt our hours. That was my annoyance and that was why I went back to gun play (crime).
“I didn’t pick up arms again for the purpose of intimidating people and causing problems. Everybody knows I was not into kidnapping, illegal bunkering or any criminal activity.
“I have just been concentrating on my business. And everybody knows that the only business I was doing was dredging. That is what I do. I am self-sponsored and not bankrolled by a traditional ruler”.
But there was anger in Rivers over 2Baba’s claim of innocence especially among the youths of Ahoada East, who urged members of the public to disregard it.
The Public Relations Officer of Igbu Akoh Youth Congress, Hector Igageta, reiterated the allegation against 2Baba describing him as a notorious kidnapper and cultist.
He said: “If he says his hands are clean and that he is not involved in the death of Bako, he should come out openly and submit himself to the police. He should explain to the police what happened to Bako in his own community.
“He should also tell the police the person behind the series of killings of youths of Ekpeye and Akoh. He should tell the police who recently killed five persons in Odemereiyi. He hijacked people’s dredgers under duress. He should stop hiding because his days are numbered.
“We the youths will make sure that those involved in the killing of innocent persons especially that of Bako will be brought to book. No amount of distraction will stop the judiciary from doing their work. If you know that you are not involved come out. 2Baba never took any amnesty”.
The Rivers State Police command acknowledged the denial made by 2Baba in a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, SP. Grace Iringe-Koko.
The police, however, asked 2Baba to come forward and present himself to the authorities to afford him the opportunity of defending himself.
The statement said: “While the police acknowledge the denial made by Gift David, it is important to emphasize that the principle of justice demands a fair hearing for all parties involved.
“The police understand the importance of listening to the other party, and it is crucial to note that everyone is considered innocent until proven otherwise. As such, the Rivers State Police Command urges Gift David Okpara, aka 2Baba, to come forward and submit himself to the authorities, providing the opportunity to present evidence that could support his claims of innocence.
“The police are committed to upholding the principles of due process and are open to receiving any information that can aid in the ongoing investigation. It is imperative for Gift David Okpara to cooperate with law enforcement to ensure a thorough and transparent resolution to this serious matter.”