No fewer than 23 persons have lost their lives to the nefarious activities of a criminal gang led by Mone Kutu (MK) investigations by Ijaw News has shown.
This is despite the ongoing initiatives to bring peace and stability to the Niger Delta region.
The criminal, who is currently on the run, has also been involved in several kidnapping operations, including students, oil workers and civilians.
Mone Kutu who hails from Asere in Arogbo Kingdom of Ese Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State reportedly returned to his community in November 2019 from Epe area of Lagos after his hideout in Epe was burnt down by men of the Nigerian Police IGP-IRT.
Since then, he has continuously unleashed mayhem on the riverine community and other Niger Delta areas at large.
High Chief Bibopere Ajube, a community leader and private security expert, told Ijaw News that the activities of MK range from kidnapping to sea piracy, murder and armed robbery.
High Chief Ajube who is also the Ibepiriseikumoh of Ijaw Ibe in Ese-Ode local government area of Ondo state, called on the military and other security operatives to tackle the growing killings and criminal activities of MK’s gang.
He noted that – with collaborators from Edo state – the criminal network accounts for a large portion of all kidnapping and armed robbery cases in the entire Southern parts of Ondo, Edo and Delta States and environs including parts of Lagos and Ogun states.
The security expert frowned at the deliberate misrepresentation of the criminal activities of MK in the media.
“I have watched in awe the deliberate twisting and misrepresentation of the facts with regards to this matter. Mr Kutu Mone (aka MK) is been deliberately glorified and tagged ‘a militant leader’ whereas he is a known criminal whose records are there in the public domain,” he said.
“The reading public should know that what is happening in the riverine area of Edo and Delta State is a pure criminal activity of a gang trying to assert themselves to expand their stock in trade and not rivalry of different groups as intended by the various reports in circulation.
Ijaw News had earlier reported how the criminal gang invaded and razed several houses and business premises in Akina Zion and Asere Communities in the Arogbo axis of Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State on the 3rd of April, 2020.
The report detailed how the notorious criminal who masterminded various activities of kidnapping, armed robbery and sea piracy among others has been on the trail of security operatives since 4th of October, 2020 when a combined team of men of the Nigeria Army, Navy, DSS and Gallery Security Ltd stormed his camp in the creek of Asere Community.
High Chief Ajube, who corroborated the claim, stated that the attack was a form of “punishment (to the communities) for divulging their hideout to Gallery Security Services Ltd who in turn brought in government security agencies to chase them out.”
The latest in the series of Mone Kutu’s excesses was the gruesome murder of 6 Egbema Peacekeepers/Vigilante Operatives who were on routine patrol within Egbema Kingdom.
Kutu Mone who had previously killed Five Soldiers ambushed the volunteer security outfit on the 14th of July, instantly killing six members in the process and leaving many with varying degrees of injuries.
High Chief Ajube lamented that the victims of MK’s criminal activities were “young men who despite all odds made themselves available to support the government in providing security for our people.”
Continuing he said; “the murder of Government Security Operatives and Local Vigilante is a strategy to instil fear on our people so that they will succumb to his (MK) criminal agenda unchallenged.”
“We mourn their loss and we pray that the peace they fought for will be achieved in no distant time and their murders brought to justice,” he added.
The Ijaw stalwart, who has been at the forefront of sustaining peace efforts in the region, held that the activities of the criminal gang led by Mr Kutu Mone (aka MK) can only be crushed by a well-planned military operation with collaboration from the locals who are familiar with the peculiarities of the creeks of the region.
He maintained that “someone who is responsible for the killing of 13 persons including 5 government security operatives within a space of one month should not be treated with kid’s gloves and must be addressed properly.”
Ijaw News observed that the activities of Mone Kutu does not only threaten the fragile peace in the Niger Delta region, but it is also bringing untoward economic and financial hardship to the people as they can no longer conduct their business and economic activities for fear of his criminal activities.
Most of these locals are fishermen whose livelihood depends solely on fishing, unfortunately, they can no longer conduct their legitimate business.
This trend, if left unabated, is also capable of erupting the volatile riverine areas, thereby making them a hub for criminal activities.
Undoubtedly, the activities of criminal elements like Mone Kutu is casting aspersion on the works of genuine Niger Delta freedom fighters.
More than ever before, there is a need for collaboration between the government, security agencies and host community to fish out the bad eggs sabotaging peace efforts in the Niger Delta and remedy the worsening economic situation of the residents.