By Ifeanyi Okolie
NNAMDI Nwankwo, a 39-year-old Igbo trader at Ladipo Market in Mushin Lagos, would definitely not forget the trauma that he suffered on his way back from the village, where he had gone to celebrate the Christmas with his family.  He left his Idi-Oro residence for his village at Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State last December.

But while making his return in January, Nwankwo, who got into  Lagos very late at night, decided to go home when he couldn’t get a motel around Jibowu Bus-stop, after alighting from the bus that brought him to Lagos.  It was a decision he would live to regret.

On getting to Idi-Oro, some gun-wielding street hoodlums who have been on rampage since the outbreak of violent clashes between factions of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), in the area, accosted him a few distance away from his house. Without accusing him of any offence they descended on him and gave him the beating of his life.

cene of destruction after a recent rampage in Akala, Mushin

At the end of the attack, he was left with a  fractured hand and head injuries inflicted on him with the butt of a gun.   In fact, but for the grace of God, he would have been killed. Narrating his ordeal, he said his  attackers kept on hitting him in spite of his wailings and pleading and eventually left him to die at a spot very close to Ojo Street.

Nnamdi’s experience has been the lot of many residents of Idi-Oro area in Mushin, Lagos State.  “It  is apparent that government has completely lost interest in this area judging by the activities of hoodlums  who do whatever they like, including  hijacking our comfort and peace. They(hoodlums) have also turned our lives into a continuous nightmare and the authorities have done nothing to call them to order so that the situation does not get out of hand, ” said Musibau Mogaji, a student at the University of Lagos.

The young student also expressed fear that the situation might degenerate into something worse if the appropriate authorities fail to take necessary action.

Meanwhile, last Thursday’s attack on Shola Oluwole’s residence by criminals from the notorious Alaka Street and its environs with his father being shot dead in the process and his younger brother left with serious injuries, has brought to the fore the magnitude of the danger that looms, if the crisis in Mushin is not immediately addressed.

Shola  who is a member of the NURTW Mushin Branch, was in detention  at the Force Headquarters in Abuja for offences yet unknown at the time of the incident. The death of his father sparked off a massive violence that spread across the entire area, claiming the lives of over nine persons and left several buildings and vehicles torched.  Youths of Erepko Street, close to the railway, where Shola resides,spearheaded the reprisal offensive as  they viscously attacked  Akala Street which is a notorious  safe haven for drug addicts, armed robbers and the rampaging hoodlums.

“We had to take measures to protect ourselves because government has failed to protect us. And this has become the only way I think we can put a stop to this mess,” Ayo Ogulese, who took part in the reprisal attack explained.

Indeed, it was a different story for the hoodlums from Akala as they got more than they bargained for on Friday unlike what obtained in the past when they invade an area, wreak havoc and go scot-free.

According to Ayo: “ The man they killed is over sixty years old  and  was not a member of the union, just like his other son who was shot and wounded.  But these Akala boys were hell-bent on eliminating anyone who stood in their way.   I think they thought Shola was home, that was why they came.   I want to inform you  that the crisis in the Mushin  branch of the NURW started when a faction  went ahead to contract these Akala boys, arming them with sophisticated weapons. Since then they have been on the rampage, killing and maiming innocent people.  We have tried severally to get the police to intervene, but they have ignored our appeals”.

Notoriety of Akala
At Akala, drug barons, including Indian hemp and heroin dealers, go about their businesses   without fear of being molested by the authorities.The street has now turned into a major distribution zone for Indian hemp supply in Lagos State as they sell the drugs in bags openly in almost all the shops that are scattered across the street.

Solution to the crisis
But Adesola Olusola a resident and an Islamic cleric, feels that the solution to the crisis  could be in two forms. He said government should carry out a total rehabilitation of the entire Akala Street, saying if this is not done, it will continue to attract  violence. He also called for the disbanding of the Mushin branch of NURTW for being the root of the crisis.

“The only solution to this crisis is that government should first of all demolish Akala just as it did Oshodi and Oluwole in Lagos Island.  I am scared about the away school pupils  around that area are being exposed to drugs and they should also disband the NURTW in Mushin in order to  stop the crisis,” he stated.

We won’t return our vote
Jude Olubumi, a trader at the popular Mushin Market told Vanguard Metro that the sanitization of the Akala Street and its environs will influence their decision on how to vote. “We need peace and security of our lives and that of our children.

The way this Akala issue is moving, if the Governor fails to take decisive action, we will not return our votes to him. It is shameful that   at this age and time in a metropolitan city like Lagos, a place like Akala still exists.

“It is wicked for government to allow this.  Our children are all exposed to drugs and I am scared of what will become of their future.  I want to repeat this, we will only vote for someone who will clean up Akala and chase away the criminals that have taken over there,” he stated.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.