…Loots, maims, extorts, confiscates properties
…Humiliates police team, forces officers to kneel down, flog them
…Claims superiority over police
…Maintains private cemetery for victims
…Commonly repels police operations•Assaults LG officials at will
By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
They claim to be the ‘Lords of the Manor’. Their territory is well defined and jealously guarded. Their operational stratagem is well articulated and strategically carried out without recourse to any other authority.
hey hold sway unabashedly in and around Satellite town, a suburb of the city of excellence, Lagos located close to both Kirikiri town and the burstling Festac town.
To their advantage, their territory, Satellite, cuts across the popular and ever busy international route that leads to Nigeria’s border town of Seme, thus giving them an unrestrained access to the activities of both Nigerians and foreigners.
In fact, they claim to have their own sovereignty derived from brute force and brigandage. And they are not disturbed by the presence of law enforcement agencies especially the police as they claim to be law unto themselves.
RESIDENTS LIVE IN FEAR
Residents of the community of more than 500,000 people from different parts of the country and beyond live in fear of their atrocious activities. They know that the fear of this gang is the beginning of wisdom in the area. Many members of the gang are from one extended family. Both truck, tanker and commercial drivers and other motorists have fallen victim of the vicious gang rampaging the area and unleashing mayhem.
The gang operates freely around Satellite, Mile 2, Maza-Maza and Abule-Ado, near Trade Fair flank. However, their main domain is popularly known as Oguntade village ruled by a man residents allege lays claim to leadership of the village but doubts his recognition by concerned authorities.
Allegations of recruitment of thugs and hoodlums that terrorize the entire area have been rife in the community and beyond and the popular belief is that his off-springs from numerous women lead the thugs and hoodlums numbering over 1000 that carry out operations. In fact, the thugs said to be imported from Badagry, neighboring Cotonou, Togo, Benin Republic are said to be brainwashed and ready to die at the command of their leaders.
HOW THEY ARE EQUIPED
They confront the police and they are armed with guns, dangerous weapons and they have different terrorist cells in the community. They also have as their weapons, bottles and stones which they use at the slightest provocation either by the police, army or any other group that challenges them. In intelligence circle, it is firmly believed that they are responsible for the numerous traffic robbery attacks on the Lagos –Badagry and Mile 2 express ways and beyond. They finance their group with monies they collect from trucks and trailer drivers that come into the area in thousands. They also collect different revenues that are supposed to accrue to the local government including tenement rates from landlords and residents of the area.
Members of the community live in fear as they always threaten to eliminate anybody that confronts them. They kill and bury at will. They destroy and take over houses. Builders and business operators are forced to pay them handsomely. They appropriate houses, lands etc and you dare not challenge them or call police because they reign supreme in the area. They extort upwards of N2m and above from their victims.
INVASION OF LGA
Stories of how they invaded Oriade Local government Area are still fresh in the memory of residents of the area. It was gathered that one day last year, their thugs who were challenged by some local government officials for illegal collection of tolls from truck drivers. The bandits went berserk, invaded the local government secretariat, unleashing mayhem and wounding many of the workers. Till date, no positive action has been taken against the invaders by the concerned authorities.
ATTACK ON PROPERTY OWNERS
Another case in point was the case of a Nigerian residing abroad, Mr Cosmas Madueke. He owned a house in Satellite town, at number 468 old Ojo road. He reportedly came back to the country to take care of his sick mother but ended up with blood stains and fatal wounds that sent him back abroad.
He was attacked the night he brought his mother to Lagos from his village when the hoodlums who were acting on the directives of their notorious criminal leader confronted him, demanding that he payed the sum of N10 million to allow him stay in his property with Federal government Certificate of occupancy. He pleaded passionately that he had no such money but they ignored and attacked him with dangerous weapons, leaving him with deep wounds on the head and fractures all over his body.
A lawyer who rushed to assist him landed in hospital after being beaten to a pulp. He had blood stains when he rushed to attend to his sick mother in the hospital. On sighting her son in blood stains, the old woman collapsed and died on the spot. Mr. Madueke is currently receiving treatment abroad and the criminals have taken possession of his property after sacking all his tenants and recruiting new ones and have been collecting rent.
PIONEER MOVIE-MAKER FALLS VICTIM
The same fate befell popular pioneer movie-maker, Igwe Gabosky Okoye whose property, a warehouse, at number 470 old Ojo road was pulled down to rubble by the hoodlums, early this week. The thugs numbering over 100 and armed with dangerous weapons struck midnight, carted away assorted local and foreign drinks including different costly and sophisticated electronic gadgets from the warehouse. This was because he failed to pay the N15m they demanded as settlement over his property housing Gabosky Firms limited and G-Media Distribution Ltd with Federal government certificate of occupancy number 23/23/77 registered at Federal Land Registry, Ikoyi.
From our investigation, Gabosky has been in his compound since 1995. The criminals swooped on him after he failed to pay the money and started demolishing his warehouse and looting his goods and valuables with their thugs. They sacked all his workers and security and all efforts to get police to stop the activities of the criminals proved abortive as the police claimed that they were more than what the Area Command or Division could handle because of the strength of their thuggery and weaponry.
Gabosky told Crime Guard in an interview that businesses and business premises in Satellite are at the mercy of the invading hoodlums and that the family can invade any business premises or residential property and demand for any amount and give the occupant a time frame to pay or face the consequences of any delay or non payment.
He said that road users and vehicle owners have different stories of their ordeal with them. They are not afraid of the police and will openly boast of their supremacy above the Nigeria Police Force. They have equally dealt with policemen who dared to arrest them following complaints. In fact, there is no police station that will accompany you to any of their bases (camps).
They have various properties seized from landlords which serve as hostels for their thugs, amoury for their weapons and burial grounds for their unlucky victims.
“Okada operators, tanker and container drivers, commercial buses and other motorists are afraid of them as they unleash mayhem to anyone who dares them. They loot shops, extort money, snatch bags and phones in broad day light while at night, from 5pm or any time there is traffic, they transform into an armed robbery gang, attacking motorists. In fact, they are a cult and terrorist group which if not controlled now will be worse than Boko Haram in the near future.”
FATAL WOUNDS ON RESIDENTS
It was learned that two other residents of the area simply called Yemi and Ibrahim Taiwo were heavily wounded and publicly humiliated by the thugs while erecting the foundation of their buildings in the area. Yemi was said to have been stabbed and he is still recuperating from the wounds. The police could not come to their rescue because of the vicious nature and numerical strength of the hoodlums.
HUMILIATION OF POLICE TEAM
Sources said also that the Bale of the community has severally denounced the deadly activities of the hoodlums but he could not do much as he is not sure of his safety.
Stories were told about how a team of armed policemen from the anti-cult unit of Lagos state command stormed the community with a view to arresting the hoodlums after one of their exploits last year but were not only humiliated but forced to kneel down and were flogged for hours before some officers from Satellite division known to the thugs were sent to go and plead on their behalf. They were released later after their intervention with stern warning never to set their feet in their domain again.
Police sources hinted that last week, about 100 heavily armed policemen were dispatched to carry out operation in the area and arrest the thugs and their leaders. The directive came from the Commissioner of Police after he was briefed about the exploits and atrocities of the gang and he was so angry that he vowed to put a permanent stop to their deadly activities, once and for all. The operation which was reportedly led by the Divisional Police Officer in-charge of Satellite and former Lagos Police spokesman, CSP Chike Oti reportedly resulted in the invasion of the headquarters of the terrorist on a midnight last Friday.
POLICE BEATS HASTY RETREAT
It was gathered that the hoodlums gave them stiff resistance and in a bid to avoid fatalities, the police team bid a hasty retreat. But not before they were held hostage for almost three hours by the thugs who were freely using broken bottles, sticks and locally made guns to attack them. Eyewitness account said the police team succeeded in penetrating their headquarters and raiding all the floors in the three-storey building where they use as hostels searching for their arms and ammunition. They also invaded the houses which they seized from people which they use as hostels.
HOW THE OPERATION WAS CARRIED OUT
Giving vivid details of how the operation nearly ended with losses on the part of the police, a source told Crime Guard; “ While we were busy ransacking every nook and cranny of the rooms in search of the thugs and their weapons, they regrouped and mobilized from another side of the building and confronted us. When we invaded their hostels around 3am that Friday, they disappeared mysteriously only to mobilize for attack against us.
They confronted us with weapons but we tactically withdrew in order to avoid casualties. We withdrew to the express way which is a two-lane way inward Mile2 where tankers and trailers blocked the road leaving only one corridor.
Unfortunately, the lone corridor was also blocked by a broken down truck that night. “ We were trapped and on seeing our condition, they started stoning us with broken bottles, stones and sticks in hundreds. Most of us were able to duck under trailers and trucks. From there, they moved to burn our operational vehicles and they succeeded in destroying about six. However, as they advanced to finally finish us in spite of the heavy shooting we were engaged on, we then advised tanker drivers to get into their trucks and started beating a hasty retreat to cut off the blockage and ferocious attacks from them.
While they were firing with locally made guns and petrol bombs, we advanced ferociously and succeeded in escaping from the scene. The saving grace was that none of the tankers were loaded with fuel otherwise, the shoot-out would have led to an inferno which could engulf the whole of Satellite, Kirikiri and beyond, registering many casualties. That was actually what we were avoiding by not insisting on completing the operation that night. We are happy that at the end of the operation which lasted for hours, nobody was killed.
“ To show how deadly they are, they later re-grouped again and confronted us at Old Ojo road. That was where we arrested five of them after they burnt our vehicles.”
LAWYER OPENS UP
A lawyer that lives in the community who claimed he was battered for pursuing a case against one of their victims, Bar. Tunde Adedeji told Crime Guard: “These thugs invade hotels, restaurants, eat and refuse to pay. They also demand for rooms in hotels and end up smoking Indian hemp openly and after that, they disappear without paying a kobo to the operators. They are laws unto themselves.
They behave as if they have a sovereign state of their own. Their leader has many wives who gave birth to many children and these children head different gangs in the hostels. Those of them wounded during any encounter are always taken to hospitals and after treatment; they refuse to pay a dime.
Even one of them that was wounded that night police raided the area was taken to a nearby hospital, he was given almost five pints of blood. Do you know that after his life was saved, they simply walked out of the hospital without paying the doctors?
Two weeks ago, a trailer driver came early in the morning to drop gravel in the area, they stopped him for their normal toll collection. But because he could not settle them, they beat and bloodied him.
The driver and his conductor ran to the nearest police checkpoint but the thugs pursued them and confronted all of them. As soon as they pulled their gun, the policeman on duty gallantly corked his and threatened to wipe out everybody if they insisted on taken the driver away.
That was how they retreated with threats to strike again. If the policeman had allowed them go away with the driver, they would have killed and buried him in their cemetery where they bury their victims unchallenged. Many people are afraid of confronting them. The only man that confronted them did not live to tell the story.
A lot of us have been writing to both the Area commander in Festac, Commissioner of Police, Lagos, AIG Zone 2 and even IGP for long without positive result. I am afraid that now that the police operation failed, they will re-group and unleash more atrocities if something serious was not done urgently.”
When Crime Guard contacted one of the sons of the traditional ruler fingered in the alleged atrocities being perpetrated in Satellite town, Yusuf Olarinde. He narrated his angle of the story to our man, Chris Onuoha. Excerpts:
“It is obvious that my name was not mentioned but every indication points to me because the man Gabriel Okoye, (Gabosky) shares a wall demarcation with me at my residence in Abule-Ado, Satellite area of Lagos. This is also in connection with the raiding of my house by some security agents who carted away some of my belongings including money inside my bedroom.
“Prior to this, Gabosky was not pleased with me over a land issue. The alleged breakage of his warehouse and robbery are false. The said structure which he mentioned is inside my premises and in the process of renovation that I am carrying, I had to pull down the dilapidated area. There is an existing wall between his warehouse and my premises. In the process of renovation, I noticed that there was a connecting door from his warehouse to the mini structure in my premises, which he is using as an office. When we got the court order to reclaim our property, every other person concerned vacated and we had to start renovation. In the process, I had to block that particular entrance with concrete.
When the satellite DPO and his men came to the house after receiving call that there was robbery going on at his warehouse, they met me and I took them round my compound and showed them the ongoing renovation. They later invited me to their station and I complied. But on arrival, Gabosky was not there, rather, he instructed his lawyer to handle the matter. After about a week, when I was summoned again, I was presented with a petition from Gabosky that I invaded his warehouse with some hoodlums and carted away his goods worth over N15 million. In the petition, my name was not also mentioned.
Some days later, the Police men came to my house at about 3.am. At first, I had to run thinking they were armed robbers because I didn’t see their faces at that dark hour. In the process, some of my property was taken away including money. But seeing the publication, I was surprised that the story of the invasion of my house by the police and the items taken away were not mentioned.”
Speaking about keeping and controlling thugs, he said,” I don’t keep thugs here. The people in question are some of my family members that made up the Oguntedo royal family. They also live some distance from my house. When the police came here, they met me and I attended to them. No one attacked them in my house.”
When asked about the grievous attack on Mr. Madueke, he refuted the claims, stating that he didn’t know anything about it. He also said that if there was an attack, it could have come from family members because, over time, there had been land issues with people who wanted to claim their land. If truly there was an attack, I am not aware of it. Most cases connected to either thuggery or civil disturbance are always about my family.
Many people are fighting my family over our land. The cases are in court and until court decides, then we will know who owns the land. But most of these people are going against court orders, carrying on developments while the cases have not yet been decided. I believe some of these people claiming they were attacked are meddling into our landed property by force. If anybody should claim the land belongs to him, he should go to court instead of using security agents to intimidate us.
What I want to say about the publication is that it is not true that I organized anybody to attack the police. It was my house that was burgled. The photograph used in that story is the property inside my premises. Gabosky cannot claim the house.
The wall is obvious. No warehouse was broken down. A renovation is ongoing right inside my compound and there was no malicious damage whatsoever on his own property. My family has been in possession of this property since 1997 after the judgement was given by the High Court.
While the renovation was going on, Gabosky never came to me ask any question. The police came here and have not asked me to stop work. The only time Gabosky called me on phone was when I brought down a tree that was obstructing the construction right in front of the house. After that, we never spoke or seen each other.