By DAUD OLATUNJI
ABEOKUTA — Hundreds of youths, yesterday, threatened to burn down a building rumoured to be a suspected ritualists’ den in Ijaiye area of Abeokuta South Local Government Area of Ogun State but for the intervention of security agents from the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Ogun State Vigilance Service Organisation, VSO.
The house, a two-storey building, is located inside Agbole Ogun in the heart of Ijaiye community.
Vanguard gathered that the rumour drew people from the nooks and crannies of the state capital, causing traffic gridlock along the Ijaiye-Oke Ejigbo-Ake road.
According to reports, the police team resorted to shooting into the air to disperse the crowd.
Meanwhile, the State Public Relations Officer of the VSO, Soji Ganzallo, said “the rumour emanated from nowhere and before we knew what was happening, there were distress calls from all our units at Ijaiye area.
“Having sensed that the situation was getting tense as stones were being thrown at the building, we decided to invite some youth leaders in the community, with whom we searched all the rooms from the first floor to the last and we found nothing incriminating.”
According to the Balogun of Ijaiye, Alhaji Chief Balogun Alemo, “The intervention of the security agencies prevented the burning of the house. I do not know where the rumour came from, but, this is very bad and we are going to investigate it.
“The owner of the building lives outside Abeokuta, while other tenants were not around. The only female occupant, who simply identifies herself as Tolu, said she was performing some house chores when she noticed heavy presence of people around the compound.”
17 suspects arrested
Meantime, the Ogun State Police Command yesterday said it had arrested 17 persons over the attack on two mad men who were acussed of planning to kidnap a child.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Muyiwa Adejobi in a statement while reacting to the attack on the mad men and a house which was described as a ritualists den condemned the acts.
Adejobi said the command was not comfortable with the development, saying there had been frivolous allegations of kidnap and child stealing/ritual killings in Abeokuta and major cities in Ogun State.
He said: “The attention of the Ogun State Police Command has been drawn to the way and manner some members of the public attack certain individuals with frivolous allegations of kidnap and child stealing/ritual killings in Abeokuta and major cities in Ogun State.
“The command is not comfortable with these cases of attack on persons of unsound minds and those with (exotic) cars who are always wrongly alleged of child stealing or ritual killing which make some hoodlums wound and eventually extort them and damage their vehicles.
“For instance,the attempted attack on a house allegedly used as ritualists den at 30, CDA Asipa Street, Ijaye, Abeokuta today (yesterday) was uncalled for and criminal in nature.
“The prompt intervention of the policemen led by the Divisional Police Officer in charge Oke-Itoku Division saved the house of an innocent individual, a retired Deputy Superintendent of Police, from being burnt by some hoodlums.
“After the intervention of some community leaders including the Balogun of Ijaye and even the Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, who came to assess the situation on the directive of the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and thorough search of the said house by the Police, High Chiefs of the area and representatives of the youth, some miscreants still attacked the Police with a view to gaining entrance into the said house to loot the property therein and set the house ablaze.
“As a result of this, almost 17 suspects were arrested and they will be charged to court for various offences according to the provisions of the law.
Attack on two mad men
“Also today, April 21, two persons of unsound mind (mad men) were grossly attacked and injured by some miscreants in Enugada and Lafenwa areas of Abeokuta respectively before they were rescued by the police.
“Emphatically, the command will not tolerate any attack on any suspect particularly ‘mad people’ within the state again with wrong or uncertain accusations of kidnap and/or child stealing.
“This is pure jungle justice and its unacceptable as it will not help the police in its investigation; and a gross violation of peoples fundamental human rights. Even if such suspects are noticed or apprehended, members of the public are expected to hand them over to the police for thorough investigation.
“The command, therefore, warns the general public to desist from these criminal acts as the police will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute anyone caught in these acts or attempting to cause any brouhaha in that manner.
“The general public is hereby urged to always get across to the police in case such suspected ‘ritualists’ or kidnappers are seen on the following lines: 08081770416, 08081770419 and 08123822910.