An African adage says when a farmer plants groundnuts on a farm invested with ground squirrels, it is expected the squirrels would have their fill before the harvest period. This probably explains the quagmire the residents of a community in Ikorodu area of Lagos State have found themselves in.
The residents of the Ebute Ajebo community at Imota hired security guards to protect them against armed robbers and kidnappers. But unknown to them, the leader of the security guards and some of his members, according to one of those arrested, joined forces with men of the underworld to unleash terror on the community.
Now, detectives attached to Lagos State Police Command have arrested the 46-year-old leader of the security guards, who is also a herbalist, for allegedly giving information to armed robbers to raid the community he was guarding. The guard, Seun Onifade, was alleged to be an informant to kidnappers and armed robbers.
It was also alleged that Onifade, while working with the suspects, allowed them into Ebute Ajebo community at Imota in the Ikorodu area of the state, where he was a guard and then pretended that he didn’t know anything about the robberies and abductions. Onifade’s secret was uncovered and he was arrested after one of his boys, Shola Bamishile, who was working with him as a guard, was arrested for robbing the community, which he and Onifade were supposed to be guarding. Onifade said he employed Bamishile to complement some of his boys who were already working with him. According to him, he never knew Bamishile was robbing people in the community.
He claimed to have found out the truth after some people, who were robbed in the community, exposed him. Onifade, who was dressed in a cloth decorated with charms, explained that the charms were for his protection from armed robbers and the kidnappers, who usually troubled the community. He denied working with the kidnappers and armed robbers as Bamishile alleged. He said: “I’m a security guard and a herbalist. When Shola came to me a year ago, crying that he needed a job, I employed him to complement my other boys working with me.
I was surprised when the Community Development Association (CDA) came to report him to me for robbing a family in the community where we work. After that incident the matter was reported to the police and we were both arrested by policemen from Imota Police Station. It was from there that we were transferred to the State Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba. “When we got to the SCIID, I was asked where I got the gun I was using for my security guard work. I told the truth; which was that I seized it from a kidnapper.
I was also asked why I didn’t return the gun to the police when I knew I got it from a kidnapper. That was how I was detained. I have worked with the Police, Army and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) when we were fighting kidnappers at Ikorodu. The charm dress I’m wearing is for my protection.
I knew the implication of being a kidnapper or an armed robber, which was why I chose to be a security guard. I’m not an informant to armed robbers or kidnappers.” A police source told our correspondent that it was Bamishile they first arrested after he robbed a family in the community.
The source said: “During interrogation, he confessed that his boss also worked as an informant to kidnappers and armed robbers in the area, which was why we also arrested him. The community, where they are guarding, is well known for kidnapping and armed robbery operations. Kidnappers and armed robbers go there on a daily basis, yet they claim to be guarding the community and protecting residents from criminals. “We are not relenting on the two suspects we arrested. We are going after other guards who are working with Onifade. We’re going to get them and get to the root of the matter.
We don’t just arrest people on sentiments or on mere allegations; we will get to the root of the matter and bring everybody involved to book. The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has directed and given us the marching order to go after other fleeing gang members of the suspects.” Fielding questions from our reporter, Bamishile, 45, explained that when he closed from duty he told his boss, Onifade, that he was heading home to rest and would also use the opportunity to see his family members. He further said that he had promised his boss that he would return on Sunday.
The suspect recalled that Onifade heard him out and then gave him permission to go. He said: “Unfortunately, on that fateful Sunday, immediately I alighted from a motorcycle that brought me to the community, my boss came to where I was standing and held my trousers. He started shouting and calling on residents to come out and that he had arrested the robber who robbed in the community.
Before I knew what was happening, the residents had come out; a crowd had gathered. I told the crowd that I didn’t know what my boss was talking about. I was confused. I only went home to check on my wife and children. Nobody listened to my explanation. They started beating me and I was taken to the police station at Imota, where I was detained.” Bamishile claimed that it was Onifade who invited the police to come and arrest him. “He told the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) that he had arrested an armed robber. I was taken away.
Before I got to the police station, he had written a statement that he didn’t know me and insisted that I was an armed robber. It was at the police station I got to know that whenever he owes his worker salaries and doesn’t want to pay, he fabricates lies and trumps up charges against the worker.
I was told that was how he has been doing with his former workers. When the worker is tired, the person would leave, forfeiting his money. He owes me five months’ salary, which is about N200,000. It was after I told him that I needed the money and told him what I wanted to do with the money, that he started maltreating me,” the suspect added. Bamishile further explained that when it dawned on him that Onifade had just roped him into an armed robbery charge he knew nothing about, he then told police that his boss was an informant to kidnappers and armed robbers.
He said: “What he does is that he would invite armed robbers to come into the community and rob a section of the community whenever he went on patrol of the other part of the community. He would later get his share from whatever they stole. Kidnappers have also abducted people in the community, but what surprised me most was that the residents didn’t sack him. They continued to retain his services. It was when I told police all these that they went to his house, arrested him and found a gun, which he claimed he seized from kidnappers that came into the community.
“I would have left the job a long time ago, but he promised to pay me my money, which was why I stayed back. Also, I don’t have any other job to fall back on if I leave his employment, which was why I had been enduring it. The job itself comes with too many risks and dangers, which made me become paranoid; always fearful that I could be killed anytime by kidnappers. Kidnappers and armed robbers used to come to that community every time.” Onifade, however, denied owing Bamishile any salary. Also arrested in the same community is Daramola Segun, a suspected cultist, cum scrap dealer.
Segun, who introduced himself as a member of the Black Axe Movement, said that he bought two locally-made guns from a man, who used to sell scraps to him. He said: “I bought the two guns, each at N30,000, from the scrap seller. My plan was to buy and use the guns to kill rival members in Ikorodu. I have not killed anybody before, but I bought guns for self-defence.
“Some rival cultists in Ikorodu used to come to where I sell scraps to threaten me, but with the two guns I could defend myself. I was initiated into the cult group when I went to a birthday party of a friend who is now late. I was arrested on Easter Day and I regret being a cultist.”