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DON WANEY: The Rise and fall of a KINGPIN

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DON WANEY: The Rise and fall of a KINGPIN

•He had magical charms –Ex-aide
•Why residents celebrated his killing

•Singer, 2Shine, plagiarises song to praise him
•We’re sad to be linked to a criminal –Humblesmith

 

 

Years before he met his waterloo in Enugu State, Johnson Igwedibia, “Don Waney” had become a hate figure in Omoku in Ogba/ Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, not just because he didn’t hide the fact that he lived off crime, and always had a way of evading arrest. It was mainly because he saw Omoku, and its environs, including Aligwu Community where he hailed from, as killing fields.

They hated the fact that he didn’t have regard for human lives. A lady from a neighbouring state, who fled Omoku some years ago, complained that during cult clashes, cult members attack whoever they see and damage property. She said that her aunt was injured at her restaurant during a clash some years ago, adding that the attack forced her aunt and the husband to relocate to Port Harcourt.

The lady, who preferred to be anonymous, said: “I am not sure if they were forced to relocate from Omoku by Don Waney’s boys, but all I know is that there was a clash between the Icelanders and Greenlanders, which led to the death of some innocent persons.

I also know that for many years, Don Waney was the head of the Iceland cult.” His notoriety for summary execution of rival cult members, especially those from the Greenlanders during clashes, became very noticeable among observers of cult clashes in Rivers about six years ago, when he used the Icelanders to instill fear within and outside Omoku. One of his foot soldiers once boasted that he was immune to bullets, machetes and other deadly weapons, which was why Don Waney was “invincible during battles.”

He had magical charms, electric properties in his body- Ex-aide

The former protégé, who now works with the local vigilance group that was part of the team that raided Don Waney’s mansion last November, also said that the body of his former boss had some electric properties, which made it impossible to defeat him in physical combat. According to him, Don Waney possessed magical powers that helped him to detect danger.

He said: “He fortified himself in a way that nothing could penetrate him. He had a spiritualist/native doctor who prepared a charm that made his body to shock whoever that wants to physically harm him. And part of the requirement for this charm, which also made him invincible during battles, is human blood.

“There were some of his members who fled because of the way he shed blood for sacrifices. These were young men who had been trained as hard men, but who at some point could no longer withstand blood. They became afraid of the way they lived.”

He also said that he slipped away from the trail of security operatives when it was sure that he would be arrested because he had built up a system of “information gathering” that made it easy for him to gain useful intelligence. Saturday Telegraph investigations revealed that long before the authorities declared him the most wanted criminal in the state, he used to roam across four local government areas where members of his Iceland cult treated him as a guest. As the regional leader of the group in Abua/ Odua, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Ahoada East and Ahoada West local government areas, his movements across these council areas, which were like his playground, gave him an edge over his hunters.

According to residents of Omoku, which suffered most throughout Don Waney’s reign of terror, life after his killing is inspiring new possibilities. Some say that the cult clashes in the area have robbed off negatively in terms of development.

Indeed, it is a massive area that is surrounded by oil-bearing communities that host multinational oil companies. With infrastructure that is slightly above what obtains outside most state capitals, it remains a strong reminder of how oil can impact a community. Some oil workers who worked many years ago contributed in the town’s development by building standard structures along well mapped out streets.

By then, the disagreement among some oil companies and communities, which largely revolved around community development funds, employment quota, and rents had not resorted to factions among youth groups and the chiefs/ elders. By then, the use of cult groups to settle disputes was not in vogue.

When it finally came into fashion, those who initiated it as an option either ran away or were consumed. It is Omoku that you see beautiful structures that are not occupied because the owners could become a victim of cult violence. Some residents of Omoku still find it difficult to believe that Don Waney is no more.

Shortly after the news filtered in that he had been killed by security operatives in Enugu, some residents said they would only believe if they see his corpse. But that was not the case with Mela Claude Ake Foundation and Omoku Youth Federation, which celebrated his killing in some parts of Omoku.

Why residents celebrated his killing

Scores of residents trooped out of their homes to celebrate his death and subsequent parade of his corpse. The notorious militant was killed by a combined team of security agents made up of the Nigerian Army, police and Directorate of State (DSS) Service in his hideout in faraway Enugu and brought back to Rivers State where it was handed over to the state government. In a now viral amateur video shot during the parade of his mangled corpse, people put the gory state aside and celebrated his death without reservations.

“This one confirm am. Almighty Don Waney. Make your spirit get up now come dey kill people. Almighty Don Waney. Almighty Don Waney!!! So your juju dey fail, dem open your skull, open am wella. Idiot. So your juju no dey for your skull. Idiot na him you be, see you here. Dirty human being,” a woman can be heard saying in pure elation. Another man in the background could also be heard saying: “You wey dey terrorise people everywhere. Almighty Don Waney. Plenty people wey dis man don kill, dem fire dis man but e no gree die. Na him end be this now.”

Described as the vicious ringleader of a gang behind many kidnappings in Rivers State and beyond along with the deaths of many others, the notorious gang leader led a life of crime while seemingly living in luxury. After his death, which followed the killing of 23 people in Omoku, Rivers State, on New Year’s Eve for which he was fingered, his multi-million naira mansion has been demolished while other luxurious properties of his have been confiscated by the state government. Also reacting to the death and demolition of his property on a popular online platform, an anonymous user wrote: “Evil man.

He had his own family that he obviously cared for and loved yet he had the stomach to murder other people’s family at will”, while another who goes by the name, Abrahamid, had this to say: “He who killed by sword, will always die by the same. It’s natural not a curse.” Another known as Guru, said: “The issue is that these guys were government boys in cults in universities gone rogue. That’s simple, crime pays in Nigeria. Did he not apply for planning permission? Also, where did he get that wad of cash to build a house like that? Also, the weapons these guys are using are sophisticated and imported in by government at one time or the other. Don’t be deceived.”

The hunt for Don Waney intensified after he violated the terms of the amnesty the state government granted to him and other criminal elements in late 2016. The incessant clashes among cult groups in Omoku and the security threat cult members, kidnappers and armed robbers posed in the state had influenced the amnesty programme. Despite the state government’s warning against cultism, and threat to punish any cultist who failed to accept its amnesty programme,die hard criminals like Don Waney, who eventually accepted it later went back to crime.

The Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on Conflict Resolution, Chief Okori Abelekum, at a two-day workshop on mediation and community reconciliation organised by Conflict Management Alliance, RSCMA, and his office said the government had identified cultism as one of the major challenges responsible for unrest and clashes in communities in the state.

He said that the governor had invested so much to ensure that peace returned to every part of the state, and noted that the governor was ready to punish anyone that defies his efforts to bring lasting peace in all parts of the state. He said: “Governor Wike has initiated several peace initiatives such as the amnesty programme for ex-cultists and supported community reconciliation in conflict affected areas. I call on all youths and communities that have not embraced the amnesty programme to do so without delay because there cannot be development without peace.

“The state government will deal with any cult member who refuses to embrace the state government’s amnesty. Tell them to accept the amnesty and live in peace.” Abelekum said that the state government designed the conflict resolution seminar in order to enable it to develop a statewide conflict management plan for the state. It was around November 2017 that the authorities got tired of the game Don Wayne was playing. That was when the Nigerian Army raided his residence and recovered cache of arms and seven decomposed human skulls.

The spokesman for 6 Division of the Nigerian Army linked some killings in Rivers and Bayelsa states to this dreaded man. The spokesman listed weapons recovered from the camp as two AK 47 rifles, one General Purpose Machine Gun, 18 AK 47 magazines, three FN rifle magazines, 39 7.62mm Nato ammunition and 20 9mm ammunition. Others, he said, were 7.62 mm ammunition, five Icom and Mag hand-held radios, two 25kg bags of cannabis, nine pairs of military camouflage, 10 human skulls and several bones.

According to him, the raid was part of renewed strategy by the division to restore law and order in Omoku, which has been terrorised by criminals for long. “On Monday, we received a tip-off, and thereafter, troops raided the camp and shrines of a notorious militant, cultist, kidnapper and an ardent oil thief popularly known as Don Waney. “After about an hour of gun fight, our troops overpowered the criminal elements due to superior fire power that sent the criminals scampering for safety,” he said. Iliyasu said some of the alleged criminals, who sustained gunshot wounds escaped by jumping into Orashi River in the area.

“However, seven of the suspects including two ladies were arrested, while they attempted to escape in the encounter that occurred at about 2:35 a.m. on Monday. “It is believed that the main culprit, Don Waney, was not at the location during the encounter but concerted efforts are on to track, arrest and bring him to justice,” he had said. For more than a month after that raid, many felt that the cult leader was dead until New Year’s Day when worshippers that were returning from church service were killed.

Meanwhile, the state government has promised to work with the three arms of government to amend the state Anti- Kidnapping Law to proscribe death penalty for violent crimes. Governor Wike, who stated this noted that: “Rivers government has invested heavily on the security of the state and will continue to do everything within our powers to guarantee the security and safety of lives and properties. “As a fact, we will spare no cost in ensuring that nobody will have peace if the lives and properties of our people make no meaning to them.

“We reiterate our zero tolerance for all forms of criminality and reassure residents of our determination to be though with those who undermine peace and security in the state. “To underscore our seriousness to fight violent crime, we shall be amending the Anti Kidnapping Law to proscribe the maximum death sentence for engaging in cultism, robbery and kidnapping,” he said. Wike said the decision of the state government to offer amnesty to all repentant cultists, militants and criminals was done in good faith and in the best interest of the state.

He said the full weight of the law shall be discharged on anyone who failed to genuinely renounce all forms of criminality as stated in the terms of the amnesty deal. The governor said the state government would pay N20 million each to any individual who volunteers useful information that would lead to arrest and prosecution of 32 wanted criminals in the state.

“The aftermath of crime and insecurity affect society as a whole, and not only the direct victims that are affected. The duty to fight crime remains collective and no right thinking person should ever indulge in politicising security issues under any circumstances,” he warned. Wike directed security agencies to immediately arrest and prosecute 32 alleged criminals (names withheld) who he said had either reneged on the terms of the amnesty or refused to embrace it.

Singer, 2Shine, plagiarises song to praise Don Waney

He was very rich, in fact, richer than the king of his host territory with a sprawling mansion built from the flesh and blood of innocents. From the nasty dirges his death drew, you could tell that he was a paradox, a ruthless criminal to some but the kindest benefactor to others. In his heydays as the enfant terrible of Omoku, Onelga community, Don Waney was praised to the high heavens in a mesmeric but unauthorised adaptation of Humblesmith’s hit song, Osinachi, by a local singer, 2Shine.

The two minutes and 51 seconds music video shot by Ocean Dreams Picture, spotlighted the stupendous wealth of the slain serial murderer and how he’d been of tremendous blessing to 2Shine. The lyrics of the song reads in part; Verse 1: “Many people don dey ask, na which God dey guide Don Waney Shey the God e do well o, Owu kwa chi nedu ya Don Waney life e don better, other people don dey envy God turned him life to favour, my brother man no cause for alarm Chorus Hey- Osinachi, ka inu kwa, Osina chukwu Don Waney Osina chukwu, Okwa chi nedu ya Eke nwe ohia, Don e pekele, Osinachi, Onelga General Osinachukwu o, Okwachinedu ya. Verse 2: Eke nwe ohia Sina chukwu, ogburu nmadu ejee nga sinachi Nmuo ka nmuo sinachi, Onelga Festus sina chukwu Now dey say the killing caused fight, Don Waney dey fight for people right, no be to come spoil Onelga Him come to make you dey smile, other people come dey bring head Come dey make the town dey spoil, Don Waney na our Freedom Fighter o, Make una listen to me By the grace of God him go restore peace By the grace of God Onelga go good Na em we dey pray for every day, make Onelga good o…”

We’re sad, says Humblesmith

Meanwhile, Humblesmith, the original owner of the song, Osinachi, has reacted through a member of his management, Kelly Williams, who said, “We were surprised that somebody would do something that stupid. It was really a big shock to me. Someone just sent it to me yesterday (Thursday, January 11).

Our PR manager is busy at the moment on a movie set, he’d be done on Monday, January 15, and we’d present it to him to do the needful because it was really disgusting. If somebody is paying money to you to do a song for him, why can’t you create your original content? Why would you use someone else’s creative work that’s generally accepted to celebrate a man of bad character?”

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