Members of Ijesha community in Surulere, Lagos, and Itire, a suburb of Surulere, have continued to live in fear as a result of regular harassments and attacks by rival cult gangs. They regularly come in their hundreds – breaking doors, smashing car windscreens, robbing unsuspecting persons, and looting shops at nights as well as in broad daylight. And, they do so without fear or qualms.
The most recent of the attacks, Saturday Sun gathered, was meant to be some form of revenge by Ijesha boys against Itire. Precisely, on Sunday, May 29th 2020, the Ijesha boys were said to have gone to Itire area and destroyed some vehicles and looted property. The following day, 30th, at about 12 noon, the Itire boys came for revenge.
An eyewitness who resides on Shofolahan Street, Ijesha, narrated what happened. “The attack lasted for about three hours,” she said. “The boys are between the ages of 15 and 17. Few of them are Keke riders. I was able to identify some of them that I know. Two weeks before that Sunday, it was reported that Itire boys came to Ijesha and destroyed some vehicles because they alleged that a young lady from Ijesha had a baby for one of them. That was the first phase and it escalated the problem.”
But the May 30th incident came as the height of the attacks. They wielded machetes, clubs and even guns. And with them, they smashed car windscreens and shattered glasses of shops. People scampered for safety. That gave them the opportunity they were looking for to start destroying cars, shops, looting and robbing residents and, unfortunately, passersby. Some motorists fell victims as they were dispossessed of their money, phones, and other important valuables, at gunpoint.
According to some accounts, the Ijesha Area Boys tried to fight back, to stop them from entering Ijesha. But they couldn’t. Recounting his experience, a resident who does not want his identity disclosed, out of fear of being attacked by the boys, said the police from Ijesha Police Station were overwhelmed. Hence a landlord living on one of the streets called Ikeja Area Command for reinforcement. It was only when they came that the police were able to calm the situation.
Fear grips residents
But the fear of the bad boys is, up till today, the beginning of wisdom. Because of that, not many want to talk about them. When Saturday Sun approached residents and some landlords living in the area, they turned down the request to speak for fear of being targeted and attacked by the boys. One of them who agreed to talk and who gave his name as Slade, decried the actions of the rough, ragged and haggard-looking boys who have continued to invade the area in broad daylight.
Counting the cost of destruction
According to him, for him and other residents of the area, it has been a recurrent experience in the past four to five years. They have constantly struck fear into the hearts of the residents and shop owners. Another landlord who refused to mention his name added that the situation has caused some tenants to relocate to other parts of Lagos. This, according to him, is giving him sleepless nights. And he wondered when that kind of harassment will come to an end.
A visit around some areas such as Shofolahan, Ronke, Johnson, Ogunlana, Adeola, Ola, Adeola, Olayinka, Twins, Moshalashi, Gbadamosi, and other streets, shows signs of widespread and massive destruction involving a good number of shops, and cars.
A hairdresser who owns a salon on Shofolahan Street, had the glasses of her shop shattered. “This is not the first time these hooligans would destroy my shop,” she said. “The other time, they had their show of shame, they destroyed my shop and I repaired it. Now they have destroyed it again. Why can’t the government do something about them? They have caused a lot of untold hardships to people.”
According to her, it took her some days before she could resume business. A fashion designer who stays beside her told Saturday Sun that though she was not there when the incident took place, she has decided to start closing her shop once it is 5pm. “I can’t stay here beyond 5pm,” she said. “These boys are evil. This area is too hot for anything.”
The boys equally attacked and destroyed a food store at Johnson Bus Stop, Ijesha, shattering the glasses of the shop. To prevent future occurrence, the owner had quickly put up an iron door in the place. Another lady at Shofolahan Street whose food store was looted sometime ago when the boys struck, said: “I have learnt my lesson. These boys are heartless. The day they looted my shop was an unfortunate day for me. I was new then in this area. So I didn’t know what was happening. It was around 7pm. They swooped on me and I ran for my dear life. So they took everything their hands could reach. Since then, I have always been vigilant.”
Why the attacks persist, by residents
A resident, Ngozi Okoro, described the situation as dicey, and blamed traditional institutions in Lagos for the boys’ actions. “These boys belong to one cult or the other, so they have the support of the traditional rulers. That is why it is difficult to curb their activities.” Another shop owner who deals in children’s wares blamed the security agents for being pro-active in their duties. “They only come after the harm has been done,” she said. “They won’t arrest them. Instead they come some hours after the boys must have gone only to start arresting and taking into their custody innocent citizens who they feel can use money to bail themselves out of their hands.”
At the time of this report, police patrol vans including an armoured personnel carrier, with a good number of policemen, were stationed at the junction between Shofolahan Street and Johnson Bus Stop. “At the moment, we are consoled by the presence of these policemen here,” a resident confessed. “They are stationed here day and night, and since then, the area has been calm. I wish the Lagos State Police Commissioner will order their permanent stay here.”
In addition, the police were said to have arrested 17 members of the terror gang that have been terrorising the area. Nine of them, according to the police, were arrested in connection with the recent clash in Aguda, Ijesha, and Itire.