By Our Reporter
Another form of broad daylight banditry championed by teenage boys is raging across some communities in Ikorodu area of Lagos State. The young men parading themselves as members of different cult groups are alleged to be responsible for recent killings and looting in the affected communities. Some of the areas badly affected are: Araromi, Adamo, Igbelara, Odogunyan, Araro, Oke Arobi, Ijede, Emuren and several other areas under Ikorodu.
Although police operatives from Zone 2 and Stare command have deployed several operatives to that area, the cult boys from Eiye, Aiye and Alora confraternity have not allowed peace to reign as they mysteriously evade arrest and reappear when the coast appears to be clear.
It is believed that their level of immunity grew when land grabbers with money to throw around contracted them to scare away legitimate owners. Even security men especially the locals are overwhelmed by distress calls from residents over the endless clash by rival cult groups. This is affecting their businesses because of the killings and armed robbery that take place during and after such clash. The most recent incident took place on January 19, when the police, at noon, engaged some suspected members of Aiye confraternity in a gun duel at Igbelara area of Ikorodu.
According to report, police responded to a distress call from members of the public that some suspected cultists were seen at Igbelara area with dangerous weapons. Two of them, Waliyu and Timileyin, were eventually arrested with wounds while a cut-to -size pistol, 10 expended cartridges and six live cartridges were recovered from them.
Their new hideout
According to a reliable source, an estate developer, due to the recent onslaught by security operatives most them have relocated to Oke Arobi, to a big forest popularly known as “40 Hectares.” “It is a new area sold recently to estate developers. They are now in that bush, most of them sleep there. I am a developer and I can assure you that we are out of the site. The regular police cannot match them except they send special squad to occupy the area until it is fully developed. The nearest police station is about five kilometers away and it will even be a suicide mission for regular police to enter that bush. They are heavily armed and it is no joke.
“From there any area they target, not less than 50 okada with at least three boys on each will move out. If they come after a rival group, they will attack their family members too. Ask police for the figure, you will be shocked. People are relocating from this area because of these boys. Even landlords who relocated after building their houses are back to the mainland again. You have no peace and to train a male child here is another problem. They force them to join the group.”
Further investigation revealed that the newbreed of cult boys are mainly teenagers who are still in school or dropouts. A resident in Igbelara simply identified as Chief Nwosu whose sons were once arrested in 2019 said he had no choice but to move them down to live with his brother who is a soldier in Kaduna. “I nearly lost them to cultism. They were 12 and 14 when this incident happened. They were recruited and, during one of their fights, anticultism squad arrested them. I thank God for divine intervention I would have lost two sons. The problem that we have in this area is migration. Ikorodu used to be very peaceful but due to the way landowners are selling their property in most of the densely populated areas in Mushin, Oshodi and Island, some of those miscreants move down to areas where they can easily thrive with little or no disturbance from security operatives. We have the warlords controlling these teenagers; they are the ones that buy these weapons for them. Most of these warlords who are rich are also land grabbers. All they do is to empower these boys to cause problem by unleashing horror on land buyers.
“Go to the government schools in this area; most of the boys there are cultists. It is not a hidden thing and their parents are aware. You either pretend that you are not affected by that or be killed. They will kill your son if he does not belong to any of the groups. This is how bad the whole matter is. We are happy that the commissioner of police had promised to intervene; we only beg him to send a special task force to help us out. In fact, these boys became more daring when they learnt that the anti-cultism section in Ikorodu was withdrawn during the ENDSARS protest.”
A community leader at the Ijede side lamented that the activities of cultists have grounded economic activities in the area. “Please, I don’t want my name mentioned but the terror amongst these boys is real. Severally, we have reported them to the police and arrests were made. Some of them were even paraded before journalists and we watched them on TV. Twenty-four hours later, they were released including those found with all manner of weapons including guns. The person who testified against them was attacked and his son killed. As long as these boys are still around here, there will be no peace.”
A community under siege
Another resident at the Adamo axis of Ikorodu North told Saturday Sun that about four days ago their community was under their siege. “For hours there were gun shots while houses were raided. What police did was to come in the morning and pick the corpse. If police want to end this, they should go to Emuren area close to Sagamu in Ogun State. That is their new domain. If you enter that community wearing blue, yellow or red, they will attack even if you are an old man. They believe that it is their colour and you dare not wear it. My aunty and her family moved out of that place because the level of immunity is something else. They extort money from shop owners and if you refuse to pay their levy, they will steal everything. To train a teenage boy in that area is even risky except you will lock them up in the house always and ensure they attend private secondary school outside Ikorodu. The young girls are not spared except you are dating one of them. Almost every young man is those government community schools are members because failure to join them might lead to death.
“My sister and her family left because they attacked their neighbour and killed the father when they could not find his son. His son who is a suspected cultist was marked for death and when they stormed his house and could not find him, they killed his father.”
Leave or…. police warn cultists
In an interview with Saturday Sun, the state police command spokesman, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi assured that the CP Hakeem Odumosu has declared war on those cultists at Ikorodu or any part of Lagos will no longer be habitable for them.
“Generally, we recorded more cases of cultism in Ikorodu division in recent times,” he admitted. “This is why the command had to beam its searchlight on Ikorodu province generally. In Ikorodu, we have arrested not less than 150 cultists in recent times. Some were fatally injured while engaging police in gun duel while some have fled the territory. Let them go to wherever they think that they can thrive because Lagos is not a safe haven for them. The command is also engaging stakeholders on how to curb cultism in that province. These are the traditional institutions, the local security agents, market women, community leaders and others.
“A detachment of policemen especially from Rapid Response Squad (RRS) led by their commander, Yinka Egbeyemi, are moving to that axis for sting operations and they will be there for days. The commissioner of police has given a directive that there will be a townhall meeting next week comprising all the stakeholders. With what we have on ground, we are getting it right. They are advised to get out of the state. Majorly for general security of the country we want them to renounce their membership. It has not done them any good but it’s putting them under psychological trauma, some of them have been charged to court; others sentenced to death. Cultism will allow you to engage in one criminal offence or the other and most of it are capital offence. The end result is murder. You can see their ages which are about 16 and 17; the highest is 22. These are productive ages we have in our labour force.”
He called on residents to quickly alert the police by reaching out to the appropriate authority. “It is not enough to just share your suspicion with a police friend who has no value for that information,” he said. “The area commander and DPO is there to take your complaints and act on it. You can reach the area commander that is covering Ikorodu on 08023219552. His name is ACP James Useni in charge of area N or you can reach my office through the Public Complaint Line 09010003792. We need Ikorodu residents who know them very well to assist police to flush them out.”