There have been panic in some neighbourhoods of Lagos and Ogun states lately following an invasion of suspected members of the notorious ‘One Million Boys,’ who storm and attack residents at random. ISIOMA MADIKE, in this report, examines the heinous activities of this dreaded robbery gang
They move in large numbers instilling fears in the minds of the citizenry. They don’t operate without giving notices to their targets of their dastardly intent. They are that bold, and everyone that had encountered them, dread them like a plague. They are the new terror gang in town. They are the ‘One Million Boys’.
Their activities are felt more in areas like Mangoro, Mowe, Ibafo, Iyana Ipaja, Agege, Dopemu, Ojodu, Berger, Ogba, Abattoir, Oshodi, Mushin, and Lawanson-Surulere. Others included Bode Thomas, Sabo, Ejigbo, Aguda, Ijesha, Ago Okota, Festac, Ikotun, Idimu, Agege, Igando, Mushin, Kofo Abayomi, Ajah, Ilaje, Langbasa, Adeniji Adele, Ebute Ero, Apapa, Ajengule, Amukoko, Ijora Badia Layeni and Orile. The unrest created by this gang is getting out of hand, and their wing is growing by the day.
A resident of Magboro, who identified himself only as Ashikwe, told our reporter that members of the dreaded gang are so bold that they usually write a letter informing any area they want to attack that they are coming. They would request the host community to keep money and other items they desire for them if they don’t want trouble. Ashikwe said: “Life has been hell for us in this locality. No one sleeps now with two eyes closed. We were told that ‘One Million Boys’ wrote our area and nearby streets that they were coming. Since two weeks, we have been on vigil, waiting for them. “Just on Sunday, the gang stormed our area, and we resisted them until members of Odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) came to assist us.
The OPC members were able to apprehend some of them, and beat them to comma before they were handed over to the police. The gallant OPC members recovered a lighter with which they set peoples door nets on fire if they refuse to open for them. “One of the suspects said they don’t often intend to kill anyone. He begged everyone he had stolen from since the lockdown started to forgive him, that he was forced to burgle homes because of hunger. He admitted that they were members of the notorious ‘One Million Boys’.” In the Igando area of Lagos State, three suspected members of notorious robbery gang equally met their Waterloo, as they were overpowered by a local vigilance group and beaten to death.
The bodies of the suspects whose ages were said to be between 17 and 18 were dumped in a canal. However, some members of the vigilance group were said to have been arrested by the police for administering what it called jungle justice on the suspects.
Saturday Telegraph gathered that the ‘boys’ had threatened to invade Igando and other adjoining areas, forcing the communities to form emergency security groups to repel the hoodlums. In their characteristic defiant manner, they dared the people as they stormed the area, but were overpowered by the residents with the help of the local vigilance group while others took to their heels. Inhabitants of the area had been alerted about 5am on the fateful day, that the ferocious gang members were at Sadiku Olowora Street, around Igando/Abaranje Link Bridge, forcing residents and vigilance groups in the areas to be on vigil. Following the activities of this dreaded terror gang, residents of different communities in Lagos and Ogun states are now in panic mood.
The dreaded ‘One Million Boys’ had written several letters of their intending robbery operations and demanded that residents should keep money for them or be prepared to lose their hands. The warning had instilled fear in the populaces, many of whom are aware of how the dreaded bandits operated in the past. In some of their letters with the headline: Alert! Alert!! Alert!!!, the gang would write: “We the undefeated ‘One Million Boys’ will visit your area soon. Keep money for us, and if you fail to do so, we will cut off your hands during the operations.”
Residents of a sprawling Oworonshoki neighbourhood in Lagos State had received such countless letters in recent time before their youths decided to confront the gang head-on. The youth made good their promise a few weeks ago as they boldly chased the dreaded gang out in one of their deadly visits to the area. The youth reportedly trooped out en masse with weapons before police came in to restore normalcy in the community. They claimed to have been tired of living in fear. Just like in Oworonshoki neighbourhood, other vicinities of the mega city, had, in the last few weeks, tasted the bitter pills of the notorious gang, who launched myriad attacks on innocent citizens following the lockdown order issued by the Federal Government following the outbreak of Coronavirus.
The gang had, reportedly snatched an army van in an uncanny display of bravado that stunned many in Lagos. They were said to have paraded themselves in a manner that left many residents in awe as some locked themselves inside out of fear. This was made known in a video posted online, which was claimed to have been shared by Surulere residents. The residents were left to look in amazement at the action of the hoodlums, who in their hundreds appear unremorseful and deadly.
The ‘boys’ were said to have chanted while jumping in excitement for the great feat achieved. “Really, it is indeed a great feat, but that could also be their death sentence,” one army man, who declined to give his name, told Saturday Telegraph.
“This is because the Nigeria army will ensure that the hoodlums are tracked and apprehended. “So, if they don’t end up losing their lives, they will definitely wish they had died when they get tortured. They definitely have bitten more than they can chew by attacking the army, their end is at sight,” the army man added. The newly-deployed Police Commissioner in Ogun State, Kenneth Ebrimson, had resumed office in the state with a promise to respect human rights and dignity in the course of his job. Ebrimson had also vowed that he would crush miscreants, including the so-called ‘One Million Boys’ perpetrating evil in both Lagos and Ogun states. The Ogun State police boss had said the attention of the command had been drawn to a letter purportedly written by a faceless group that calls itself “One Mil-lion Boys” to the good people of Ogun State informing them of their intention to storm the state to carry out criminal activities.
He said: “The Command wouldn’t have dignified the said letter with a response, but for the purpose of allaying the fear of good people of the state, the response becomes necessary. “To start with, the Command is not perturbed by the mischievous letter because we have what it takes to deal decisively with any criminal gang, that may want to infiltrate the state under any guise or nomenclature.
Since the commencement of the lockdown ordered by the Federal Government, the Command is not oblivious of the fact that some hoodlums may want to take advantage of the situation to perpetrate one crime or the other and that informed the decision of the Command to activate its tactical squads.
“We have put squads such as SARS, anti-kidnapping unit, anti-cultists unit, PMF, as well as other conventional policemen on red alert with the mandate to deal ruthlessly with anyone or group that may want to make life difficult for law abiding citizens of the state. The Command therefore wishes to assure the good people of the Gateway State not to panic or be unnecessarily apprehensive as it will not allow hoodlums to hibernate and operate in the state.”
In like manner, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had reassured residents of the “Centre of Excellence” of his commitment to protect lives and property just as the police said they have neutralised the ‘One Million Boys’ gangsters.
The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, acting on the orders of the governor, said the police had stepped up surveillance following the panic generated by threat letters purportedly written to some communities by the faceless criminal group.
The group allegedly threatened that it would carry out armed robbery attacks in some listed neighbourhoods of the state. But the police described the group as “non-existent”, adding it had strengthened its surveillance across neighbourhoods. Odumosu allayed residents’ fear, saying the criminal gang called “One Million Boys” had been disbanded in several operations. He said a new set of criminally minded people may be hiding under the gang’s name to scare the public, but “I can assure all that the police, in conjunction with other security agencies, would neutralise such threats.”
He added: “Today, we have come out in full show of force to give you assurances that there’s nothing like ‘One Million Boys’; they are criminals. Be assured that government is out to protect you. The police are out there to guarantee your safety and we are doing this in conjunction with soldiers, Navy, Air Force and Department of State Services (DSS) operatives. “So, we are asking you not to panic. Go about your lawful engagements. When it is time for you to sleep, you should sleep without nurturing the fear that some faceless criminal gang will come and attack you. Faceless people are sending letters around only to put fears in your mind. We will respond swiftly to any attack and we shall be patrolling round the state.”
Odumosu said that the security agencies had been carrying out land and aerial surveillance to ensure the safety of residents during the restriction of movement imposed by the Federal Government to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘One Million Boys’ is the codename of a gang known for its notorious robbery activities around Lagos and its surroundings. Originally formed in Ajegunle by a group of about 20 boys with the objective of “fighting perceived injustice in the city”, some members however, hijacked the group into being involved in robbery activities, rape and maiming.
A movie titled ‘1 Million Boys’ was released in 2014 based on their thefts and activities. On October 9, 2012, about 130 suspected members of the group were arrested by the Lagos State Police Command during a raid around Apapa and Ajegunle. Due to the current COVID- 19 lockdown in the country since March, the group has been moving around different parts of Lagos and Ogun states causing so much unrest. They start their operations by sending letters to residents of the areas that they would be visiting them at night.