Lagos under siege!
By Olatunji Ololade, Associate Editor
As teens with guns terrorise suburbs
Fears heighten as teen gangs recruit primary school minors
Psychology of a child cultist
Late March 2020, Ali aka Abu Ibrahim stirred from the transient darkness of sleep into the eternal dawn of his demise. Ummi Ibrahim, his wife, had gotten up to prepare pap for sale, when she heard a noise outside their apartment on Fadipe Street, Clem road, Ijaiye-Ojokoro. Curious, she ventured out into the compound only to discover a gang of teenagers prowling their premises, armed to the teeth.
She hastened back into their apartment and the invaders bolted after her thus engaging her in a fierce scuffle to prevent her from locking the door. The resultant commotion stung her husband awake.
Ali, a security guard, started from sleep to see his wife being manhandled by a group of wild looking boys. Was he dreaming? Disorientation segued to instant awareness, and then, stark rage.
Ali leapt from his bed and dealt one of the invaders a thunderous slap, causing the boy to reel backwards. In the commotion, Ali’s sons, Abdulrasheed, three, and Ibrahim, six startled prematurely from sleep.
Instantly, the gang of seven pounced on Ali, raining punches on him. But realising that their wiry fists bore little impact on his sturdy frame, a member of the gang flashed his pistol and aimed it at Ali, shooting him in the hand.
Seeing her husband fall and writhe in a puddle of blood, Ummi Ibrahim plastered herself over him, urging the invaders to spare his life. She told them they had no money; that he was just a security guard and she, an ordinary pap hawker.
But the teen bandits ignored her plea and delivered a kill shot to her husband’s chest even as their underage sons stared in horror.
Ali died on his way to the hospital thus becoming another fatal addition to the casualties of the rising armed robberies committed by teenage gangs in the Ijaiye-Ojokoro local government area (LGA).
Ayomide Tella, whose former house, Ali kept watch over at Tigbegbe, off Clem road, bemoaned his demise, disclosing that insecurity was one of the reasons that informed her family’s relocation from the area.
The situation has become a source of great worry to residents of Clem road. In the wake of Ali’s murder, Seun Osifeso, a clothes trader, relocated her family from Ayinla Adams, an adjacent street to Fadipe, to Agege.
Osifeso accused teen cultists, the Awawa Boys, of Ali’s murder, stressing that they have become a terror to residents of the area.
“Twice they accosted my eldest daughter on her way back from school. The third time, they molested her and her younger sister, who was barely 12 years old. That, for me, was the last straw. We know some of those boys. “We know their parents but when I reported them to the landlords’ association, their mothers ambushed me twice on the street and threatened to beat me up. One even promised that they would rape me and my girls. I am a single mother. I have no one to protect me. I had no choice but to relocate to Agege,” she said.
Had she known, Osifeso would have stayed back at her former residence at Ayinla Adams. Agege is worse than her former abode. She said, “I used to send my daughters out on errands after 8 pm in Ijaiye but here in Agege, I dare not. These days, I make sure we are all indoors by 6.30-7 pm.
“Recently, I was robbed on Oba Ogunji road by Awawa Boys. It happened on a Sunday around 6 pm. Nobody came to our rescue. I was coming from church and I decided to branch over at the Ogba Sunday market. They dispossessed me of my bag of grocery and took my wallet from me. They fondled my breasts and slapped me on my backside. One of them even asked for my address at gunpoint, vowing that he would come to spend a night with me. He looked barely 14,” she lamented, stressing that none of her assailants looked older than 15.
“They are everywhere,” said Azuka Onoh. The 33-year-old revealed that Awawa Boys raided his pharmacy to punish him for refusing to sell tramadol and codeine to them.
“Twice, they came to meet me to sell them tramadol and codeine and I told them I don’t have those medicines in stock. They left angrily threatening to deal with me. One week later, I arrived at my shop and found its doors broken. They raided my shop overnight and stole drugs worth N280, 000,” he said.
From daylight through dusk, gangs of teenage Awawa recruits prowl through Agege, Ijaiye, Oja Oba, Iyana Ipaja, Dopemu, harassing pedestrians, motorists and shop owners. At Amoo’s intersection with Olukosi and Agbotikuyo junction, gangs of teenagers spotting the Awawa emblem, frequently erect a road block and harass motorists and passersby for money.
They hurl threats at those who refuse to give them money. Sometimes, they throw stones at uncooperative motorists and smash wooden planks on their vehicles.
On four different occasions, this reporter was accosted by the boys, while passing through the axis. On the fourth occasion, I encountered a boy of about 15.
“We own these streets. We own Agege! If you don’t give us money, we will deal with you!” said, a member of the group called Stainless.
Few days afterwards, I sought him out at his lair, a makeshift pub off Powerline road in Agege. The pub, owned by his girlfriend’s mother, doubles as the watering hole and meeting point for his crew.
His name is Tunde and he is 15 years old. The most striking thing about him are his eyes. They looked like they belonged to a bloodied war veteran — which, of course, he was, having being in prison twice for robbery and rape.
Recently, he was arrested for assaulting an officer of a neighbourhood vigilance group. “But I was let off the hook because I have connections,” he said, batting his eyelids in a menacing glare that could strike horror into grown men.
Those eyes barely mask the terror behind them. Tunde has done right by himself for street cred: he had stabbed four boys in inter-gang street wars and secured the patronage of the senior godfathers and gang lords, whom he fondly described as the “alayes.”
“In December 2019, I ran into one of the alayes in my area at a street carnival on Orile road. He told me, ‘Iwo lomo ti won nso. Mo recognise presence e (You are the goon currently on song. I recognise your street presence). He said I should keep it up.”