Inside story of Mushin mayhem

For the uniniated, Akala Street in Mushin, a Lagos suburb, is usually a ‘no-go’ area. Most of the adjoining streets in the community are ‘relaxation’ spots for hemp smokers and drug addicts, who in the fit of craving and lack of money exchange their clothes and other personal valuables for wraps of hard substance.

But that crowd of craving young men on the streets of Akala, Elegba and environs with lit marijuana and bottles of beverages spiced with other hard drugs, was yesterday replaced by sullen faces ruing either the loss of their wares to the police raid, vandalised properties or the arrest of their loved ones.

Following the murder of a sergeant, Abam Mohammed by hoodlums at Akala Street, the police on Wednesday night carried out massive raids of all the streets in the neighbourhood, allegedly vandalising vehicles, buildings; looting properties and arresting innocent people. observed that a grave at 29, Alhaji Lasisi was also vandalized and three vehicles parked within the premises had their windscreens, headlamps, shattered.

Most of the residents said they hid under their beds and in the toilets to avoid being arrested, adding that anyone the police saw was a suspect.

According to the Community Development Association (CDA) Chairman, Kolawole Kilani, about 200 vehicles were vandalised, 87 houses looted and over 50 people arrested.

Kilani, who confirmed the police were responsible for the vandalised shops and vehicles, said that they also whisked away elderly people from their homes.

He said: “It was the police that vandalised these vehicles. They came in their uniform and they were shouting that they would deal with us for killing a Sergeant. My annoyance is that these vehicles they destroyed and the shops, homes they broke into belong to innocent people.

“The owners are engaged in legitimate businesses and it is not as though they found drugs in them. No one is supporting what those boys did, but taking it out on innocent residents is unacceptable.”

It was gathered that among those  arrested was one Monday Chukuma, a trader, who was returning from the market.

He was said to have alighted from a motorcycle and was about to pay the rider when they bundled him into the vehicle.

“They also arrested Onyeka, Samuel Ekundayo, two native doctors, Alpha Alenge and Baba Super, 79. A woman Taiwo Hassan, Chidi Osuji, one Basil, Okeowo Ogunmuyiwa, 70, One John, Salisu Ishola, 70, Dupe and Taye Maigida, as well as a woman, Bilikisu and her daughter Hasisa,” said a resident, Olufemi Banjo.

He said those arrested were hurriedly charged before the Lagos Mobile Court on Thursday, adding that they were granted stringent bail conditions.

“It is unfair how the police went about this issue. Why not go after the real culprits? Imagine those elderly people that were whisked out of their homes and taken to Mobile Court. We have gone for their release and we were told they were taken to court.

“That the Magistrate granted them bail of N10,000 with two sureties each. The Magistrate said each of the sureties must have two houses in Lagos or be a level 17 civil servant. How many people own two houses in Lagos in this area?”

Narrating how his home was burgled, 79-year-old Olaitan Olayinka said the policemen forced his wife to lock her shop, only for them to break the locks minutes later. He said: “They beat me up for questioning their action. They used their gun butt to hit my arms and they ransacked our home. It was around past 7pm that they got to my house at 31, Alhaji Lasisi Street.

“My wife’s shop was still open. She sells sachet and bottled water. They were breaking the windscreens of vehicles parked on the street. They were also breaking peoples’ shops.  They were just screaming that she should lock her shop and she obeyed them. She locked the shop and we went inside. Few minutes later, they started hitting the shop and forced it open.”From there, they came into the house. They went into all the rooms and they were beating people. I did not understand why they were doing that because where they had issues with area boys was not on our street.

“I asked them why they were vandalising my home and they beat me up. They said we killed a policeman and so they will kill all of us. It is sad that the police did things like that. Our street has always been peaceful. Police used the opportunity of their clash with area boys to loot peoples’ properties. They cannot claim it was not them because we all saw them. They were on our street till 9:30pm. They came in batches.”

Our case against the police –dealers  For some of the drug peddlers, the police were being discriminatory in the seizure of drugs, adding that not all the seizures were declared publicly.

Their anger, they said, was heightened last Saturday after the police raided hard drugs worth over 150 million from the neighbourhood.

They said to their dismay, they saw pictures of the substances that were shown to newsmen during parade of suspects and it did not equate what was carted away.

One of the dealers who pleaded anonymity, said: “That is the cause of the problem. Policemen from the Area Command are our friends. We dine and wine together but still, they come here to steal from us. The truth is that there are factions among us. We have those who specialise in giving police information. How we knew them is that the police never seized  their goods.

“There is a woman here who sells codeine. She secured her place with iron bars. All the times they have been coming here to raid, they have never raided her place.

“Another thing that angered some of us is that during that raid of last Saturday, they took goods worth over N150 million. But on Facebook we saw picture of the three young men they paraded and some goods, which were far lesser than what they took from here.

“Even those boys they paraded are not the owners of the goods. They just came around to have good time. They do not know anything about it. Do you thing the police do not know the owners of the drugs? They know the owners. They are just stealing from us.

“They seize our drugs, declare half and sell the others and keep the money for themselves. It is not true that we are robbers and cultists. We only sell our drugs to feed our families.

“Those who killed the policeman are those homeless boys not Akala boys. Our boys are only interested in selling drugs, whenever they see the police, they run. It is those homeless boys from Oyo and other  states that would pelt the police with stones when they see them.”

It was gathered that the youths were also angry the police blamed them for a clash between two factions at Fadeyi and Onipanu, during which two people were killed. learnt that there was a clash between Femi Jaypron and Toba boys last Saturday and the fight escalated towards Tollgate.

“But our boys chased them away. They did not allow them come into Odi-Olowo. The fight stopped around tollgate and they killed people there. Then, the Area Commander was angry and he came and raided our ghetto. He said those bad boys were coming to hide here. That was how this whole problem started,” said one Baba Tijani.  Allegations are false, say police

However, the police command described the allegations as total falsehood, insisting that the drug dealers and patrons were fighting back.

The spokesman of Lagos State Police Command, Mr Chike Oti, in a statement issued yesterday, said: ‘’The officers who carried out the operation to rid Akala-Mushin,  Idi-Oro and Itire communities off drug peddlers and criminal gangs were carefully selected and supervised . The spurious allegations against men who ordinarily should be parted on the back  for a job well done is to say least most uncharitable though not unexpected from the  quarters of organised criminal gangs who have turned Akala as their drug capital.

‘’The Lagos State Police Command has no record of complaints against Police action with respect to the raid in which 39 bags of weeds suspected to be Indian hemp and assorted types of drugs, two pump action rifles, a cache of ammunition were recovered and 255 suspects were arrested and prosecuted. Nevertheless, the Area Commander of Area D- Mushin, Assistant Commissioner Police (ACP) Akinbayo Olasoji, in whose jurisdiction the raid was carried out has gone round the community to encourage anyone with complaint to come forward and register such complaint.

‘’The Lagos State Police Commissioner has asked Area Commanders and the Divisional Police Officers to redouble their efforts in arresting cultists, mopping up firearms and illcit drugs in the hands of hoodlums in the state. He also charged them to prosecute established cases diligently.

‘’The Command has resolved that no amount of propaganda or vituperation from drug gangs would shake its resolve in ridding the notorious Akala in Mushin and indeed the entire Lagos of drug cartels and cultists.’’