The Rise of Lagos Gangsters
Lagos communities now sleep with one eyes closed due to the rise in urban mobsters who have over the years murdered peace in the Centre of Excellence. SECURITY MONITOR’s Wale Abideen and Shola Akinyele investigates the causes of the incessant killings and breach of public peace which frets Lagosians as well as government since battle for supremacy among rival groups spin out of control leaving parents with agonies over loss of their beloved sons.
“It is impossible, it can never be”, these were the choice of words uttered by Deacon James Sokunbi when he hard that his only son, Kayode was arrested by the police for cultism. Pa Sokunbi and his wife rushed to the police station without delay with a vow to sue the police if they torture or molest their beloved son. They raged; scream as they drive to the station. At the station, they spoke on top of their voice, threatening the police officers when they got to the station. Kayode Sokunbi, an undergraduate student at Lagos state Polytechnic, Ikorodu was arrested by a patrol team of Ikorodu Divisison Police station for breach of public peace, violence and cultism. When Pa Sokunbi was informed about the arrest and detention of his ward the retired teacher raged and accused the police of arresting his “innocent and born again Christian boy”. Mummy Sokunbi too could not hold her emotion as she nearly tears the clothe Investigative Police Officer, IPO in charge of the case. She insults the IPO with disdain to his police uniform.
The Divisional Police Officer, DPO, a superintended of police, SP heard the noise of the furious parent from his inner office and came out to find out what happened. He tactically calmed Pa Sokunbi and his wife and ordered that their son Kayode be brought out of the cell. The DPO directed Kayode to back his parent which he did. To the utter shock of the Sokunbis, an inscription of a bird was boldly tattooed at his back. Mama Sokunbi could not believe what she saw as she broke down immediately and started crying when the DPO said that Kayode has made a confessional statement that he is a member of Eiye Confraternity and that he was arrested at a birthday party with an axe and poisonous knife in his bag with intention to create mayhem in the party. Pa Sokunbi who had earlier claimed his son can never be a cultist because he brought him up in a Christian way wondered why he and his wife never noticed the tattoo at kayode’s back over the years. It almost turns to crisis between the duos who are senior members of Holy Trinity Church in the ancient town of Ikorodu as the Deacon accuses his wife of not living up to his motherly role. They both apologized for their earlier utterances and pleaded with the police over their erroneous actions. They went home with heavy hearts, shedding tears and begging God for forgiveness over their failure to raise their child in a God’s way.
The city of Lagos is undoubtedly facing a daunting moral challenge that has obviously aggravated security concerns. Cultism and gangsters which hitherto was confined to tertiary institutions has now spilled over to the larger society. Virtually all streets in Lagos has experienced bitter tale that characterized the menace of cultism. Last week, residents of Oworosoki and Gbagada were sent to early bed as early as eight pm due to sporadic gunshots that rent the communities. The gun shots lasted till the following morning which also forced many people to remain indoor throughout the day. Towards the end of Governor Babatunde Fashola administration,residents of Apapa sent a save our soul message to the governor and security agencies in the state over what they termed as “incessant violence and phantom destruction of properties perpetuated by rival cult groups” in the area.
Late last year, three young and promising Nigerians lost their lives in Ijora Badia and Apapa Iganmu areas of the state following a clash between two rival cult groups in the vicinity. One of the victims, whose name was given as Jamiu, was hacked with an axe, while two others, Kazeem Ayinde and another with an unknown identity, were killed in retaliation of the murder of Jamiu.
A brawl which led to the many deaths on both sides had led the two rival groups to renew hostilities since 2014 Christmas day. SECURITY MONITOR findings reveal that residents of the area where the incident took place are now overwhelmed with fears of reprisal attacks following the killing of the three men.
A resident of the area, Animashaun Kilani, said Jamiu’s friends from the Badia community avenged his death, stressing that “Jamiu was a neighbor and I knew him well. We used to relate with each other, although I sincerely don’t know what he does for living. They came to his house with an axe and hacked him to death. His family does not live around here, so it was policemen from Ijora Badia that came to take his corpse away.”
Biodun Adeseye, a civil servant who resides in the area noted that the casualty rate is possibly more than three as the cultists forcefully entered into the houses of their targets before killing them.
Adeseye further stated that the hoodlums were too brisk in their attack, making it difficult for residents to call the police.
“They didn’t start their fight until around 8 pm. Their fight took a bigger dimension recently when they had a gun battle with the police and in the course of the exchange, some of them were killed and the police also lost few of their men.
“Since that time, they have been counting scores and none of them is ready to lay down their weapons,” Adeseye said.
It was gathered that the police were able to arrest some of the suspects as the others fled on hearing about the arrival of policemen to the scene.
According to an inhabitant of the area, the police from the Ijora Badia station were unable to do anything in the situation as they were overwhelmed by the superior arms the hoodlums were wielding.
Prior to the 2015 General Elections, Sheriff Alasia, 30 years old Lottery Agent, was on Monday morning shot dead during a brutal cult clash at the Fadeyi end of Ikorodu Road in the state.
SECURITY MONITOR learnt that Alasia’s death was as a result of a clash between thugs loyal to the All Progressives Congress on the one hand, and thugs loyal to the Peoples Democratic Party on the other.
The newly married deceased, who was a Premier Lotto agent, was said to have been caught in the gunfire on Ikorodu Road, and died on the spot. The Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, regretted Alasia’s death, adding that the police did all it could to forestall it.
He said, “It was a gang fight that resulted in the death of a man whose identity we have yet to ascertain. The police have been monitoring the activities in the area for the past three days, to ensure no life was lost. But unfortunately, we don’t know how those boys still succeeded in killing that guy. It’s quite unfortunate.
Mushin area of Lagos had been a hotbed of violent cult clashes over the years. Nowadays, two groups reign in the area as a result of their frequent clashes- Toba gang and Toheeb boys. While the Toba gang is loyal to the APC, Toheeb’s boys are of the PDP. The two groups were said to be engaged in a battle for supremacy.
SECURITY MONITOR learnt that the renewed fight started when elections were fast approaching after some hoodlums staged a protest for the release of their leader, Joel Oloruntoba, aka Toba, who was facing murder charges at a state high court.
Toba’s boys were said to have gone on the rampage, tearing all political posters and banners belonging to the APC. A source said, “They went on the rampage tearing the posters because they believe that Toba is an APC boy and for the past six months, the party has refused to come to his aid or assist in his release. They were shouting, ‘No Toba, no APC, no election as they started breaking bottles”
Another source told the SECURITY MONITOR that by Sunday morning, around 9am, on that day three men belonging to Toheeb’s gang came on a bike and led a raid on Toba’s boys.
“The three men, Aloma, Akeem, aka No case, and Adeyemi, came with some mobile police officers to arrest some Toba boys because of the Saturday disturbance. But what surprised everyone was that one of them grabbed the rifle of one of the officers and started shooting. This made people angry and they countered with equal firepower. This disrupted all activities in the area.
“In fact, church services were brought to abrupt end, and people sustained gunshot wounds,” the source told SECURITY MONITOR.
In Akala Street located in Mushin, an area known for frequent street violence, some hoodlums’ recently unleashed terror on the residents, vandalizing property and breaking vehicle windscreens. Some of the hoodlums were also said to have looted shops and dispossess residents of their valuables. Joseph Atanda, a septuagenarian lamented the growing spate of violence in the area and asked the authorities to mediate in the crisis.
“About 16 policemen were here on Saturday evening when all this started, yet the violence has continued unabated. It is basically a fight between the APC and the PDP thugs and these politicians must sit down and iron out their differences amicably. For now, it appears one faction is having the upper hand because the police have also been compromised and that is making the other faction angry, I believe you understand what I mean,” he said.
Residents and traders of Mosafejo axis of Oshodi market witness no peace as incessant gangs’ war between rival groups wrecked series of havoc. The crisis occurs frequently, the situation that led to the positioning of anti riot mobile police at the market to forestall further tragedy. Shortly before to the just concluded presidential election, members of Big London Boys headed by Musiliu Oluomo, chairman of Oshodi chapter of National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, clashes with Under bridge and Railways Boys. The crisis led to the death of seven men including a notable supporter of Jimi Agbaje, PDP gubernatorial candidate in the state during the last elections. 27 vehicles were also burnt down with traders counting loses. The clashes also halt down commercial activities as vehicles deserted the area. As at the time of filling this report anti riot mobile force still maintained presence with the police armored tanks and patrol vans on stern watch out for potential criminals.
Students of the Lagos State University, LASU had been living in fear since 28, February, 2013 when two members of one of the cult groups allegedly shot and killed a final year student of the institution, Damilola Olaniyan, a.k.a. Damoche.
Olaniyan, an upcoming musician and 400 level Banking and Finance student, was shot some meters away from the institution’s main gate along Iba Road by two unidentified gunmen, suspected to be cultists, who rode on a motorcycle.
Following the murder of the musician, there had been reprisal attacks around the school campus.
Shortly after his death, another LASU student, a part-time student, was murdered by some unidentified gunmen suspected to be members of Eiye Confraternity.
The murder, an alleged reprisal attack over Damoche’s death, took place at Abeokuta Street, Okokomaiko, a neighbouring community to LASU’s main campus.
In a Matter of Urgent Public Importance brought before the House by Sanai Agunbiade, representing Ikorodu Constituency 1, the House had warned that if urgent steps were not taken to the menace of urban cultism, the problem would escalate.
On October 28, 2014 two youths were killed by the Supreme Eiye Confraternity (SEC) at a restaurant on Kayode Street in Onipanu. The deceased, said to be members of Black Axe Confraternity, were reportedly having a good time when the opposing Eiye cult group stormed the restaurant to attack them.
Several youths have been killed in the reoccurrence gang war ravaging Mushin, Fadeyi and Onipanu in Lagos. The attacks are customarily carried out in mafia-execution style. In February, an alleged member of Eiye confraternity, known as Segun, was killed in Mushin by a bandit group led by a youth known as Oyinbo (his real name unknown) on Ajisegiri Street. The late Segun was said to be the hit man for SEC.
Segun was stabbed several times with a dagger on the neck and chest before he was shot to death by his assailants. Prior to his execution, the deceased had reportedly gone on a mission to kill Oyinbo, an outlaw in the area. When he did not see him, he reportedly called Oyinbo on the phone and asked him to come out from his hideout for a fight. Oyinbo, however, told the late Segun to give him 10 minutes to finish what he was doing and promised to meet him wherever he wished for the fight.
Twenty minutes later, Segun was killed. He was attacked at a local canteen, where he had gone to eat, perhaps in preparation for the grisly encounter with Oyinbo. Three weeks later, a member of Oyinbo’s group, identified as Lawal, was murdered in revenge. The reprisal was done before Lawal’s family members in Iyana Ipaja ,Lagos, where he fled to escape being killed.
In June, Oyinbo reportedly killed another member of Eiye confraternity at a meeting and disappeared to escape arrest.
In August, the late Segun’s SEC group however, recorded a ‘breakthrough’ killing Oyinbo in a lottery kiosk located on Ogunmokun Street. The Nation Source investigations revealed that the incident happened in the presence of an anti-riot police squad stationed in the area to forestall violence. No arrest was made; the assailants, who witnesses said, were armed with sophisticated guns, left the scene without confrontation by anyone. From September, more than 16 youths have been killed in reprisals. The least, as sources said, is yet come on the deaths initiated by late Segun and Oyinbo.
From all indications, it is cleared that there is proliferations of killers’ gangs in the city of Lagos. No one seems to be sure of his or her safety. The scourge baffles not only the parents or families of the bereaved it also “irritate” a repented cultist. Adeola Bamgboye, an ex member of Black Axe argued that “It irritates me when frat strike in the town.It was like an unwritten rule of engagement. Rival cult groups attacked each other on the campuses but no group launched an attack against a member of another cult group outside the campus. No one dared attack a rival cult member at home. Each cult member’s home was like a hallowed ground, a sanctuary that evoked the respect of all and sundry. That was because we respected the institution of the family. Once when we went to hit (attack) one notorious Eiye (SEC) boy, we met his mother and sisters in his room. We could not drop (kill) him like we planned to but we brushed (beat) him severely. And that was even in his rented apartment outside the school campus”.
The escalating menace of gangsterism is gradually gaining prominence among idle youths and unemployed graduates. Both literates and non literates have also sunk into the gambit of mob. Parents and opinion leders now hesitate fear over the safety of their wards as no one seems to be sure of the factors that attracts young able youths to succumb to the devilish of cultism
Last week, the Lagos state governor, Akinwumi Ambode directed the security agencies in the state to device new techniques to stop the scourge of street gangs and cultism.
Investigations by SECURITY MONITOR points to the fact that politicians engage the gangsters during elections and empowered them with money and weapons, the boys however become nuisance and unleash terror on the community after elections. It was also gathered that lack of employment easily makes crime an attractive venture in any urban community. From Badagry to Epe gangs’ war remains a daily feature in crime diary of security agents. The erstwhile peaceful towns of Ketu, Festac, Ojodu, Mushin, Agege, Ojo, Somolu, Okokomaiko, Yaba, Surulere, Ikorodu, Lagos Island and Bariga have in recent times imploded to fierce clashes between rival cult groups, leading to deaths and destruction of properties worth millions of Nair.