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Five-hour mayhem: Ajegunle residents sleep in fear

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Five-hour mayhem: Ajegunle residents sleep in fear

• Residents relocating, new ones rejecting houses in Layinka

• CP forces 14 Baales in Ajegunle to sign undertaking, profiles them

• Amukoko Baale debunks shooting at Layinka community

• Estate manager counts losses

 

Through the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian Police, OP MESA and Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS), they ended a week-long clash between Layinka community in Ajeronmi LGA and Olumokun in Amukoko area of Ajegunle last week, CHIJIOKE IREMEKA writes that reprisal is imminent if government delays in permanently reconciling the warring communities

 

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police (CP), CP Edgal Imohimi, has ensured 14 traditional heads (Baale) in Ajegunle signed an undertaking with the police to end the weeklong clashes in their communities with a view to ensuring that the peace is no longer breached by hoodlums masquerading as youths in Ajegunle communities.

 

The CP was reacting to the five-hour community clash would occurred between Layinka in Ajeronmi Local Government and Olumokun community in Amukoko area of Ajegunle last week Sunday, in which a police van was burnt, great number of people wounded, houses and mosque vandalised. CP also warned that the disposition of most hoodlums, who vent their grievances by burning police vehicles or any of its properties, should which henceforth, be viewed as arson, saying that the police might be forced to use maximum force to prevent such from happening.

 

The Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State, CSP Chike Oti, who confirmed the incident, said some youths from Olumokun community engaged the youths of Layinka community in a free for all on the streets of the sprawling community. He noted that while the youths of Olumokun retreating, stumbled on a police patrol pickup van parked on the bridge at Layinka they set it ablaze. He added that the police have arrested 20 restive youths in Amukoko Ajegunle following the incident, though the Baale of Amukoko told Sunday Telegraph that only three boys were arrested from Olumokun as at Wednesday.

 

Though the security operatives were able to achieve a ceasefire between the two warring communities, there is wide fear of reprisals evidenced by the residents of both communities after the week-long clash that left their property vandalised and a number of people wounded. During Sunday Telegraph’s visit to the communities, the combatant groups were seen regrouping and boasting of next action to be taken in order to protect their people against any external aggression. Though no life was lost in the five hours fight, countless people were wounded.

 

The roads and streets were littered with pieces of broken bottles and tiles, weapons used in prosecuting the inter-street supremacy war. Sunday Telegraph saw a number of victims treating their wounds. Repeated visits saw those wounded on Sunday nursing their wounds.

 

Some of them had their ears chopped off by flying broken sanitary tiles and pieces of broken bottles; others had their head bandaged, some lost some of their teeth to stones. Also, Pako police DCO sustained injuries on the leg during the fracas  Sunday Telegraph sighted at least, 31 people whose heads, hands, and bellies were bound with brown plaster. Several others had plaster on their faces. Blood droplets were seen on the roads and streets as well as blood-stained clothes used in tying up their wounds.

 

More so, a young Baale of Amukoko Olumokun, Akeem Oseni, was said to have joined in the war with his gun, shooting at the Layinka combatant group, an allegation he debunked, mentioning Pako Police DCO as his witness. Going by his state, Mr. Soloman Ugwu, who was shot on the leg, it will take a miracle for him to walk with that leg again.

 

The victim wasn’t among the fighters, but his quest to view what was happing, earned him a deep firearm injury that tore his foot in pieces. It was learnt that while the regular police came shooting into the air with a view to dispersing the fighters, they remained adamant. Rather, those injured in the fight were being replaced by another set of fighters.

 

“It was like a real war situation. Those, who were wounded didn’t leave the scene; instead they were regrouping and coming out stronger. The fight has been on for the past five days, before the last Sunday’s invasion. It’s something else,” said Taiwo Sholanke, a resident of Olumokun Street. He noted that the regular police could not stop them until Federal SARS came.

 

“In fact, when the police came, they tried their best to stop the fight but it went on the more, so the police stepped aside and allowed the free for all fight to continue. The police were in-between the warring groups.” He continued: “I can’t really say this is the reason they are fighting.

 

They are two different communities, ruled by different people. They have different Baales. So, I can’t just say this is the reason they are fighting. “I can only say it’s a supremacy war. One group says it won’t agree and the other says the same. Each time they fight, that bridge is their battle field. The bridge is the boundary that separates the two communities.” A middle aged trader, Mrs. Fatima Aborinde in her helplessness, was shouting ‘we need peace,’ told our correspondent, “We are tired of this fight. What we want is peace.

 

This war is forcing us to relocate to other places. We will go to Alausa and protest so that the government will come and separate us from Olumokun people. They are thieves.

 

 

They broke into my shop and destroyed my bottles. “Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode should come and rescue us from this situation. Our houses are being destroyed. Look at that mosque; they have broken its windows. Is the mosque fighting with them? Who will now replace the windows? We are tired of this every day fight. We are not selling our goods again. It’s affecting our business.”

 

Fight affecting our business, says estate manager

 

Also, an Estate Manager, Bassey Annang, said since the fracas started, customers stopped coming for his property on Layinka. “Whenever you tell a client that you have an apartment or property in Layinka, the person will not show any interest. This crisis affects my business here. I wish the problem can be solved once and for all.

 

Those who are living here are running away for fear of uncertainty,” he said.

 

According to him, he doesn’t know the cause of the clash as there was no history of old clashes apart from the one last week, which was caused by an ordinary fight between some Olumokun and Layinka boys at a party. Sunday Telegraph visited Baale of Ayetoro (Layinka), Chief Oladipupo Seun, but learnt he was out of town. His son, Ola Aremu, who spoke in his capacity, said he can’t pin down what the people are fighting for; suggesting that the only way to settle the problem is to call on the DPOs of both communities to find a lasting solution to the squabbles.

 

He said: “I believe if they can come together, they will be able to settle this problem. It has been there for long. We are tired of this and the people of the other side have the upper hand over us. If the government should call the meeting of the DPOs and all Baales in the communities, the problem would be solved.”

Corroborating Layinka, Baale of Amukoko Olumokun, Akeem Oseni, said he doesn’t know what sparked the recent fight between his community and Layinka, saying there has not been a history of community clashes with his neighbour. But he admitted that most boys in the area are thieves who obtain valuables from unsuspecting pedestrians and commercial cyclists by force at Layinka Bridge and use the small market beside it as their get-away-route and hide out.

 

He said: “To be truthful, most guys on this side of Olumokun are thieves who use that market at the bridge as their hideout. They steal from pedestrians, snatch handbags, phones and other valuables from them. We have applied for taskforce to ensure they don’t stay there to further evil.” At his campus residence, he debunked the allegation that he shot at Layinka community even as they were only fighting with bottles, cutlasses, stones and broken bottles.

 

He said: “I didn’t come out with a gun. How was I supposed to do that when the regular police were unable to stop them? Is it me that will shoot a gun. I heard that but I refer those who say so to DCO of Pako Police, who was with me, at the scene. You can confirm from him. “I even encouraged the police to arrest about three people in my area. Some of them are blaming me for allowing police to arrest them, saying that the Baale of Ayetoro didn’t call police to arrest his subjects, why was I doing that to them? But I have to do what is right.”

 

In a meeting, where the 14 Baales in Ajegunle were made to sign an undertaking with the police that there would be no fighting again Ajegunle communities, CP almost arrested him for alleged shooting at Layinka residents but the DCO saved the situation when he told the CP that the Baale didn’t shoot at anybody.

 

“Baale are being blamed yet the politicians are the ones using these people. I believe the government should also call the DPOs of both communities as well as the chairmen of Ajeromi and Ifedulun Local Governments to come together and end the crisis,” he advised.

 

Also speaking on the way forward, the injured DPO, who charged at our correspondent in his bid to get more facts from him, said the best way to solve the problem is by making arrests from both sides of the warring groups to calm their nerves.

 

More so, while our correspondent was eavesdroping on their discussions, he also suggested that the DPO of Ajeromi should make arrests on his side and allow him, in Olumokun, to make arrests on his own side instead of allowing his men to put their lives in danger by standing in the middle of warring groups.

 

Also, a police source at the scene reliably told Sunday Telegraph that the only way to chart a lasting solution to the incessant fights among both communities and other communities in crisis in Ajegunle, is for the CP to initiate peace talks with all the Baales in Ajegunle. Also, a strategist, Dr. Joel Muotoh, said the strategy adopted by administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigerian universities against cultism in those days is a sure way out.

 

Obasanjo threatened to sack the Vice Chancellor of any higher institution that condoled cultism. According to him, this prompted most schools to introduce committed anticult security to ensure that cultism ended in their respective schools, saying the VCs became so useful to that course and there was a great reduction in cult activities.

 

The VCs, he noted, saw reduction or eradication of cultism in their schools as their only way of ensuring continuous stay in the office, saying if same measure of ‘stick’ is employed by state government to revoke the certificate of any Baale that condoles war in his community or an inability to control their subjects’ excesses at least 80 per cent peace will be achieved.

 

The war

Though there are conflicting reports on the causes of disagreement between the duo communities, yet there are pointers that the glitch is from some Amukoko boys who ambush and snatch belongings from pedestrians and commercial tricycle operators on the Layinka side. According to Mrs. Idu Sara, the Olumokun boys come to the street to collect money from people and even tricycles. She noted that this has always been their way until the boys of Layinka who saw that as an affront, organised themselves and resisted them.

 

An elderly statesman on the side of Olumokun, Babalola Ajasin, said there was no initial or history of war between his people and Layinka people, saying that nobody can place a finger on the fault apart from clashes between their children and the children of the other side. Another source, Uchenna Igwedo, said: “Our boys went to a party and one of them was attacked by the Olumokun boys and this made them to fight back. Olumokun community had always intimidated Layinka community because their Baale is influential. He is their back bone.

 

He was the one that shot one of us.” According to him, in an event that police arrested some youths of the both communities, their Baale facilitated the release of his subjects, while Layinka youths were rotting in police custody, saying that the action angered the Layinka combatant group and affected their reasoning.

 

He alleged that some politicians on the side of Olumokun are fuelling the crisis by supporting these boys. “Olumokun youths have turned themselves into thieves and nuisance, breaking into people’s shops and carting away their belongings. In some cases, they catch keke and collect their money which made the Layinka to fight back,” he added.

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