By Ifeanyi Okoli
The annual carnival usually held at the Low Cost Housing Estate, Oke-Afa, Isolo, Lagos took place as usual last year on December 26, 2011 and lasted till the early hours of the following day. The carnival which witnessed an unprecedented influx of persons from across the state was peaceful and pageantry.
But towards the end of the ceremony, some street urchins allegedly from Mushin, a neighbouring community in the state stormed the estate and almost truncated a hitherto peaceful ceremony. Reports said the hoodlums which operated under the aegis of Punche boys unleashed terror on some defenceless celebrants leaving on its trail blood and sorrow.
The cause of the fracas which started and ended on Church Street, an outskirt of the estate could not be immediately ascertained but sources said the leadership of the estate is discretely investigating the immediate and remote causes of the fight with a view to forestalling future occurrence.
Chairman of the Landlords association of the estate, Prince Debo Ajayi who was in Vanguard’s head office, Apapa, in the company with his General secretary, Mr. Remi Adeyoyi expressed shock over reports that two persons lost their lives in the course of the celebration, adding that they personally monitored the carnival and there was nothing to suggest violence till midnight when they went to bed.
They however, said they were told of a lifeless body lying on the ground of the said Church Street the following morning adding that the cause of fight or death of the unidentified person might not have anything to do with the peaceful annual carnival in the estate.
According to him, “The carnival was a peaceful in all the zones that it was held, but I was shocked to read in the newspapers that it turned violent. To tell you the truth, I had my men on ground to monitor the situation and none of them reported any violence. But from what I was told, it seems that he is standing by his story and I am not ready to join issues with him. However, I want to put the record straight that as the chairman of landlords association of the estate, I have not received any report of rape or looting of shops; even church street is not part of the estate . It is by the gate of the estate proper.”
Continuing, Prince Debo said, “The essence of organizing the carnival was to unite the youths and all residents of the zones who are natives of various states of the federation. It is an annual celebration, where we merry and showcase our diverse culture. The carnival is also reminiscent of what we have at the Lagos Island, that is the Eyo carnival because most of the residents are from Lagos Island.
“The Estate authority has always tried to put activities of the youths under control. But the crisis you reported mighthave been carried out by outsiders who attended the occasion. I must tell you that we had a meeting with youth representatives from all the zones in the estate and we warned them against violence and they gave us their assurance that there would be no violence.
“And in fairness, throughout the time I was out monitoring the carnival, the entire area was peaceful.The little violence that was reported it might have been carried out by mischievous hoodlums who were angry with the success of the event. It is very clear that they were out to tarnish the good image of the estate.
“We have also resolved to ensure that future carnivals will be peaceful and therefore, we will work collectively with all the youths this time, not just their representatives. We shall also ensure that security agencies are on ground and of course, they have always been on ground during all the events.
“It is on this strength that we will go back to the drawing board to ensure that outsiders do not hijack future carnivals to give us a bad name. But if you ask me, the 2011 edition of the carnival has been attested to be the most colourful, entertaining and peaceful of all other carnivals over the years in the estate.”