By Olayinka Latona
Papa-Ajao area in Mushin, well-known for its serenity, tranquility and exclusivity, is witnessing troubled times. The area popularly referred to as “Mushin GRA”, has, over the last two months or so, been under siege. The residents now either sleep with one eye closed or lie awake all night, out of fear that men of the underworld who have laid siege on the peaceful neighbourhood, may come calling, yet again as they have done several times recently.
This turn of events, according to reliable sources, is unprecedented, but the incessant armed robbery attacks witnessed of late, has triggered off palpable fear among residents of the area. Many, including visitors, tell unpalatable tales of attacks. Passers-by, and other commuters, often attacked and dispossessed of their belonging, are not left out of the lamentation.
According to one Mr. Matthew Oniyide who resides at Awanatu Street in the area, life has become unbearable for the average resident. Oniyide revealed that the whole scenario began like child’s play last year October when some unknown men plundered the vital parts of some electricity transformers, leaving four major streets in permanent darkness for about one and half months.
Oniyide who spoke with regret, said the robbers wrote letters to inform residents of some of the streets in the affected areas of their intention to visit and rob them. He recalled that his daughter’s bag was later snatched one morning, by a group of miscreants arund Oteomi Street on her way to office around 6:30 am.
“Before now, these robbers wrote letters to some streets that they are coming to rob, but they did not show up at the stipulated time. Rather, the began operation towards the Christmas period till now. The most annoying thing is that Papa-Ajao has been labeled as one of the no-go areas and it was not so before. Now we are afraid while sleeping and also avoid going out too early in the morning. Even coming back home in the evening requires a lot of reading of Psalms and rendition of prayers to God for safety and protection.
However, Joke Olanrewaju another resident from Sadiku Street whose house was robbed few weeks to the Christmas celebration, confirmed that the mode of the robbery advanced to a peak toward around that time when groups of armed robbers started attacking the streets, one after the other. She explained that the robbery experience did not enable many occupants on the attacked streets to celebrate the Christmas and New Year festivities in a good mood as they were always afraid the robbers might come back.
“The robbery in my house took place around midnight and all the rooms in this building were touched. The robbers came with dangerous weapons and they were all young men who might be in their early 20s.”
Some shop owners in the area also lamented that some of the robbers usually waylay them early in the morning and late in the evening at the close of day. Tunde Jinadu who sells recharge cards around Akinbayode Street said he is always in a panic when coming to his shop in the morning and also scared when going home in the evening.
On his part, Chief Samuel Olakunle Lawal the Baale of Papa-Ajao who has been Baale for the past 15 years, lamented that incident. To him, it was a surprise as it was widely known that Papa-Ajao is one of the safest places to reside in Lagos State.
“About a month ago, prior to Christmas, the armed robbers went around Papa-Ajao humiliating people. They operated in about six houses. I know about Sadiku, Awanatu, Bello and Olakunle streets and probably other streets I might not be aware of. And since this incident started we have alerted the Police security outfit at both Zone D, Mushin, the Rapid Response Squad and the Olosan Police Station and they have been here to take charge of the situation. We were even contemplating inviting the Odua People’s congress (OPC) but changed our mind because we don’t want them to turn this area to a battle ground just like what is happening in Idi-Araba.”
Lawal explained that the reason for the robbery was due to late closure of restaurants and other relaxation centers, saying that the robbers used the opportunity to mingle and hang around till late in the night before carrying out their operation. Speaking further, he assured that the necessary security outfit has been contacted and they have been trying to curb the situation.
He added that each house had been asked to get a whistle which is to be blown to call attention whenever there is the suspicion of any strange movement in their vicinity.
“The restaurants, recreation centers, film houses around here were closing very late and the robbers used the opportunity to hang around or mix up with the people there. But we are coming out with a decision that all recreation centers should close latest by 10pm and we are going to forward this decision to both Zone D and Olosan Police Stations so that they can help us implement this law
Lawal and his chiefs however, assured the Papa-Ajao residents that the robbery experience will soon become a thing of the past as both the Police and Rapid Response Squad teams are keeping watch over the area to maintain peace and protect life and property, while ensuring to fish out the perpetrators.