…To avenge murder of two months old baby
By Vivian Onyebukwa and Lawrence Enyoghasu
Sulaimon Babatunde, 32, watched last year as a rival cult allegedly led by one Ahmed, killed his two-month old child and beat his wife. Since then, the pain and horror of that day has not left the Kwara State indigene.
Anytime he remembers the traumatic experience of that fateful day at his No 135 Isale Gambari home in Ilorin, he always wept and got moody. There is no doubt that the fight for supremacy between the two rival cults seared an everlasting wound in Suleiman’s heart.
But, the death of the baby was not the only thing that agonizes Suleiman. He also lost his wife, who packed out of the matrimonial home for fear of safety due to the incident.
“The fight started between my group and that of Ahmed’s long time ago. However, the other group invaded my house, beat my wife and killed my two -month old baby with her, and after that, they all fled to different parts of the country. Then in January this year I came to Lagos,” said Suleiman.
He came to Lagos, he said, to have a new beginning and possibly take another wife and start a new family.
But that was not to be, as the shadows of the past again crossed his path, disrupting his good plans.
Suleiman, who lives at Oke Arin area of Lagos Island, was passing along Carter bridge at about 10:00am on June 5, this year when he came across Ahmed. The ember of the age long feud kindled into a fire, and all he could think of was vengeance, but, he realized that he could not confront his old foe alone.
To carry out the revenge, he enlisted the help of two of his friends, one Kazeem and Sodiq, who joined him on Carter bridge after he called them on phone. They allegedly caught Ahmed and pushed him into the lagoon.
It took the effort of sympathizers and passersby for the suspect to be arrested, while his accomplices escaped.
But, Suleiman pleaded: “It was not my intention to kill him, I just wanted to hold him responsible for the death of my baby. If I wanted to kill him I would not attack him in a public place. It was for the sake of justice that I called my friends to help me take him to the nearest police station.”
The clash between Ahmed’s and Suleiman’s gang is just one of the rife bloody cult conflicts recoreded in Kwara state. Just recently about seven persons reportedly died between Friday and Sunday in Ilorin following renewed cult clashes between feuding members of the Aiye and Eiye confraternities.
The clashes occurred in Ikororo, Baboko, Osere, Olunlande, Egbejila and Coca-Cola areas of the metropolis, according to eye witnesses. It was learnt that the killings were also revenge of the gruesome murder of a suspected cultist identified as Tobi at Coca-Cola area of the metropolis.
Some suspected cult members had launched an attack on Friday at Olunlade area of Ilorin where an unidentified man was killed, causing panic in the area. A similar incident also occurred at Olufadi area of the metropolis close to the popular Edun street where one Ayo Shuaib was killed.
Similarly, a teacher at Government Secondary School, Afon, Olatunji Ahmed, popularly known as Itu, was also gunned down at Osere, eye-witness accounts reveal. His body was later evacuated by the police and deposited at the Ilorin General Hospital morgue.
Also one Abiodun Aremu, also known as Abbey, was killed at Ikororo area of Niger Road in the metropolis, while another unidentified victim suffered a similar fate some hours after at Egbejila. The fight for supremacy between two cult rivals also erupted in Bayelsa. The fight claimed the lives of two teenagers in Yenagoa, recently.
The clash, which occurred at the Amarata area of Yenagoa metropolis, caused panic among residents who watched the battle between the armed rival cult gangs. The cult groups were said to have freely used guns, cutlasses, axes and other weapons during the clash.
The clash left the two teenagers, aged 18 and 19, dead after they suffered gunshot wounds. One of the victims, identified simply as Paul, from Anambra State, was said to have been shot by the rival cult when he allegedly led his group, armed with guns and other weapons, on a reprisal attack for an earlier attack on his group.
He was said to have been shot in the abdomen and died at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, where he was rushed to for treatment after the encounter.
Also in Rivers, it was pandemonium as Omudiogwa, as community in Emohua Local Government area, experienced a fresh cult clashe that claimed at least five people. It was gathered that armed cultists invaded Omudioga, in May in search of members of a rival group, killing at least five people, including one who was beheaded.
Omudioga Youth President, Chinyere Amadi said that Ezeka Nwadike and Prince Omata were among those killed.
Amadi said the community had been deserted as inhabitants sought refuge elsewhere in the absence of security operatives.
In another development, one person has been reportedly killed while several others sustained bullet wounds in clashes in Akabuka town in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government area.
A source from the community told newsmen that trouble started when a suspected cult leader returned home for the first time, after he was granted amnesty by the Rivers State Government.
Sources said the presence of the returnee cult leader sparked an argument between members of his group and a rival gang, which later resulted in sporadic shooting last week.
Men of the Joint Military Task Force have since been deployed in Akabuka town to calm the situation.
The cult clashes also extended to Lagos, where no fewer than two persons were recently killed in Mushin area of the city, when two warring factions of street gangs clashed in the area. Witness said trouble started when, the rival groups, suspected to be secret cults engaged themselves in a fight smashing cars, burning shops and looting stalls.
The rampaging youths were said to have invaded Alamutu Street, Idi Oro, from Akala Elegba, looting shops and setting them ablaze early in the morning.
One of the victims, a cab driver, whose car was destroyed, said he spent about N80,000 to put his car back in order. Also, a keke driver whose keke windscreen was destroyed told the reporter that he would need nothing less than N10,000 to repair his windscreen. He lamented the loss, as, he said, he was just managing life and family with what he earned from fares.
During the burial of the Chairman of Motorcycle Owners Association Oshodi, Rasaq Bello, popularly known as Hamburger, another cult clash almost erupted, but for the timely intervention of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police who sent stern warning to the hoodlums.
In a quick response to the crisis, the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Command waded stormed the area to restore peace.