By Evelyn Usman and Kignsley Ndimele
The entire Alaba Suru along the Badagry expressway was in disarray last Monday as some armed persons later discovered to be members of the outlawed Odua Peoples Congress, OPC, took over the entire road chanting war songs.
The members who were armed with dangerous weapons which included bottles, knives, cutlasses and guns, even descended on a student on internship with Vanguard Newspapers.
The student identified as Samuel Peter, on crime beat, reportedly alighted from a commercial bus to take on the spot report of activities of the members when he got more than what he bargained for. The stern -looking fellows descended on him, hitting him with the boot of their gun and inflicting bruises all over him, until he managed to escape.
Some members of the Congress however met their waterloo as seven of them were later arrested by men of the military patrol outfit, OP Messa. Among the suspects were three women and a thirteen- year- old girl.
Recovered inside the vehicle they boarded, as revealed by the commander, 9 Brigade, of the Nigerian army, Ikeja cantonment, Brigadier General Sanusi Nasir Muazu, were seven arms, cartridges, weeds suspected to be Indian hemp, charms and amulets.
The suspects, according to Brigadier- General Muazu, commandeered a commercial bus and drove against traffic when men of OP Messa accosted them, during which a search conducted on the vehicle revealed the concealed weapons. Some of the suspects, he said, managed to escape, leaving the arrested ones to their fate.
The suspects, including the teenager, admitted to be members of the congress. They claimed to be on their way for a meeting when they were accosted. Thirteen year_old Mary Orimolase, shocked everyone when she revealed that herself and her mother were members of the outlawed congress.
Hear her, “ We were going to a meeting to hear what they would say but we never knew there were arms in the vehicle. We were arrested because we drove against the traffic and even when the soldiers came and asked what was in the vehicle, we said we did not know because we did not put the arms there. Our job is to sell while the meeting will be going on and I use the proceeds to pay for my school fees”.
Sunday Olojode on his part, explained the reason for the display around the area. Said he, “All we wanted to do was to create an awareness so that occupiers on the land will quit. The matter is between two families and we are behind one of the families.Even the court has ruled in favour of the Oluwa family .
But only last Saturday, we met somebody on the land and handed them over to the police. Bu I do not know how the weapons got inside the vehicle. The are not mine”.
Driver of the commercial bus in which the weapons were recovered, Ayo Oroye, denied being a member of OPC. Rather, he stated that, “As I was working on my route, one of the OPC men stopped me. He said they were going for a meeting and would want to use my bus.
I charged him three thousand five hundred. We drove down to Suru Alaba where other members were waiting for the bus. They directed me to drive against traffic assuring me that no security agent can molest them.
But hardly had I started driving against traffic than some OP Messa stopped us and demanded that the vehicle be searched where the weapons were discovered. The weapons belong to them and not me. The amount they were to pay lured me into taking them. Now, I can not even get out of here, let alone being paid the money. Is this how one lands oneself in trouble in Lagos?
Warning miscreants to stay off Lagos state, particularly during the yuletide season as well as the forth coming election, Brigadier General Muazu stated that the 9 Brigade would leave no stone unturned in carrying out its constitutional responsibility.
“Our warning to everybody is that we would not relent. Infact, we have put on extra effort particularly in this coming festive periods and election time. We will not leave any stone unturned. Any body who thinks he can test our capability should be rest assured that we are capable.
Therefore, I want to assure Lagosians that we will enforce law and order in the state”. The suspects, he said, would be handed over to the Police, explaining that “we don’t have power to prosecute. All that we do is to hand over to the police which will carry out further investigation and at the end charge them to court”.