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POLICE BUST GANG, KILL 8, RECOVER WEAPONS

By NBF News
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One of the victims
Adamu Mohammed is a soldier living at the military barracks in Badagry, Lagos State. He was said to be cruising on his motorcycle on the LASU-Iba Road on May 13, 2010, unknown to him that danger was lurking ahead.

As he was savouring the pleasure of the 'evening ride,' an iron rod from nowhere, landed on his face. He was hacked down at the notorious oko efo (vegetable farm), opposite the Lagos State University, on the LASU/Isheri Road. Mohammed, however, managed to escape, but not with his teeth intact. He nearly lost all, including his personal effects, to the bandits. Doctors and dentists are still attending to him and also to replace the lost teeth with artificial ones.

Another victim, Bello Rasheed, is a police officer serving in the Seme border division. The cop, who may not have heard or been aware of the risk involved in riding a motorcycle on the LASU-Iba Road, was said to be going back to his house at about 9pm, when members of the dangerous gang hit him with a big stick. He had fractured hands and legs. He also lost some of his teeth and personal items including money and handsets. He, however, has reasons to thank God for living to tell his own story.

The case of a banker, Oluwasegun Temitope, is a pathetic one. The young man, who was attacked by the same gang in the same area sustained spinal cord injury. An eyewitness said the spinal cord was badly damaged and it is only a miracle that could make him walk again. The victim was said to be riding on his Power Bike, when the bandits struck. They also hit him with a big stick.

He was first rushed to the EL-Shaddai Hospital, Iyana School bus-stop, Iba, before he was referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

There were also cases of Corporal Joseph Ogar, from Cross River State, and Mr. and Mrs. Chukwuma Okoro, who were attacked on December 4 and 5, 2010 respectively. Others, who fell victims to the attacks and were lucky to be alive are Adebisi, Fajembola and Wale, among others. Most of the victims were killed and their vital parts cut off and sold to ritualists while their bodies were dumped by the roadside.

The list of victims of the man's inhumanity to man is endless.

Daily Sun gathered that the actual killers are mere agents, who kill for as low as N300, 000 per person. Those who commission them to procure the human parts, as Daily Sun investigation further revealed, sold the parts to the final users, who are usually prominent members of the society, who paid between N2.2 million and N2.3million.

In some cases, there were robberies, targeted at workers, usually at the end of every month. Others who fall prey to the criminals are businessmen, especially, those returning from Cotonou, Benin Republic. Our checks revealed that in the past, many of them fell victims to robbers who used commercial vehicles to operate, popularly known in Lagos as 'one chance'. As a result, the travellers resorted to making use of the motorcyclists for speedy passage of the 'danger zone'.

When the criminals discovered the new method adopted by users of the road, they became angry and started hiding in the bush and using iron rods and big sticks to knock down commercial motorcyclists. In some cases, they succeeded in carting away large sums of money from their victims, at times, foreign currencies and sometimes, they ended up getting little or nothing after killing the person.

But the incident that provoked the ire of residents of the area was a recent attack on a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Okoro. They were said to have escaped death by the whiskers, but they sustained serious injuries. Daily Sun gathered that following the attack, a group, 'Peoples Mandate' protested, calling on the authorities to find a lasting solution to the incessant killings on the LASU-Iba Road by suspected ritualists. Before now, a day hardly passed by without seeing bodies of victims whose vital parts had been chopped off and dumped by the roadside.

The practice is said to have been going on for a very long time, but the situation got out of hand since 2006 or thereabout. A staff of EL-Shaddai Hospital, where some of the victims were usually rushed to, who doesn't want his name in print, also confirmed this in an interview. According to him, since he moved to the area in 2008, it had been one reported case of killing or the other, or cases of victims sustaining various degrees of injuries inflicted by the ferocious gang.

'Since three years ago that I moved to this area, no week passes without reported cases of killings on the oko efo area. Some survived victims either came to our hospital by themselves for treatment or they were brought in by some policemen on patrol,' he said. Other victims of the attacks were also rushed to Onyems Hospital in Iyana Iba area. But less than one month after the new Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in-charge of Ojo station, Mr. Yusuf Mukaila, a Superintendent, took over, not less than eight of the suspected members of the killer-gang had been shot dead while others were arrested.

The DPO, who seems to have applied 'fire-for fire' approach to the Iba road situation, was said to have personally led the operations to the area, which resulted in either, killing or arrest of the suspected criminals.

According to a police source, the DPO slept in the office for many weeks because of such crucial operations on the vegetable farm. According to the officer, no stopping the DPO yet, as he has vowed to root out criminals in the area, especially ritual killers.

Further investigation carried out between Iyana Iba and Agboroko revealed that victims' corpses are no longer dumped on the roadside for the past one month, as a result of the efforts of Mukaila and his men.

Further checks also showed that the bandits have relocated to Obadore in Igando division. They now operate on the bridge near Obadore. Residents told the reporter that it is now dangerous for motorcyclists to ride on the bridge immediately it is 8pm. Some people have already been killed on or maimed.

One of the victims of the Obadore attack is a commercial motorcyclist (Okada rider), Saheed Musbau. The 32-year-old man narrated how he was going back to his house in Obadore on Monday, December 20, 2010, when he was moved down with a big stick. He said he survived the attack by sheer providence.

He said: 'They hit me with a big stick before I lost control and fell. I summoned the courage, got up and ran, but they still ran after me. Some motorists, who noticed what happened to me wanted to stop to assist me, but when they discovered that my assailants were still pursuing me, they became afraid and sped off.'

He explained that the bandits later retreated, but made away with the motorcycle he bought for N150, 000 on hire purchase. He narrated how unsafe the Obadore bridge had become in recent times, especially, since the killers were dislodged from the LASU end of the road. According to Musbau, many people had been killed there and their vital parts cut off while their bodies were thrown inside the forest. When Daily Sun visited the bridge, a motorcycle, belonging to a victim was seen, while people gathered, wondering what might have been the fate of the owner.

Commenting on the efforts being made by the Ojo DPO to rid oko efo of criminals, especially, ritual killers, the EL-Shaddai Hospital, manager explained that the new DPO not only flushed out the bandits, he personally deposited N5, 000 in the hospital in the case involving Musibau. Giving insight into the protest of December 7 which helped to put the police on their toes, the Vice Chairman of the 'Peoples Mandate,' Mr. Kas Young Monye, said the purpose was to express the feelings of residents of the area about the evil act.

According to him, the 18 communities, which make up Iba, had earlier petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Assistant Inspector-General of police (AIG) in-charge of zone 2, the state Commissioner of Police, but without any positive result. 'Many women have suddenly become widows because of these ritualists. People are usually scared of visiting us at nights, when we go out, we are scared of coming back immediately it is 8 pm. We want to commend Musbau. He is doing a good job.'

Adding his voice to the commendation of the DPO, the Chairman of the group, Mr. Simon Igwe, appealed to the authorities to give him a reasonable period of time to serve in the area, to completely root out the criminals, who he said had been terrorizing the area.

Monye, Igwe and other residents appealed to those concerned to sell oko efo to people to build residential houses. They advised the government to sell the lands to people who are ready to develop the area immediately.