By Ifeanyi Okolie
When a 9-year-old Aminat Lateef was murdered in December 2010, during a violent clash between factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, in the Mushin area of Lagos State, her parents and siblings thought they would never get justice for her death, against the backdrop of past experiences.
But the reverse is the case now, as operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS, following a directive of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, who ordered a mop-up of the entire Mushin area of violence, swooped on some factions of the NURTW who took part in the crisis in which several persons were either killed, maimed or kidnapped while many building and cars were destroyed during the clashes that lasted almost three years.
Those arrested include: Lukmon Lawal, ‘’aka Oko’’,Monsuru Ibrahim, Ibrahim Sanni, Taye Fasina, Saheed Shittu, Fatai Babalola, Omotosho Akande and Lateef Akinpelu.
Crime Guard gathered that Lawal, who described himself as leader of bandits and drug addict operating in the Akala area of in Mushin, and had been on the police wanted list for long, was arrested when FSARS operatives arrested three members of his gang at Awolowo Market in Mushin and recovered an AK 47 rifle and a pump action gun from them.
The police, while interrogating the three suspects discovered that the AK 47 rifle was taken from a policeman who was attacked on Ikorodu Road and was badly injured by the gang. They also confessed that their guns and others were used during violent clashes in Mushin and in cases where they were no clash; the guns were used to rob residents.
Police sources told Crime Guard that the hoodlums had financiers who sponsored their criminal activities,and they meet at Akala before attacking residents of Ereko, whom they branded as enemies. A top police source, who craved anonymity, told Crime Guard that after the arrest of theses suspects, efforts were made by their sponsors to get them off police net.
“In fact, several politians, including a senator made efforts to get them out. But over 20 persons had come out to identify these people as members of the gangs that attacked them Aminat Lateef’s father and those whose brothers, sisters or relations were either killed, maimed or kidnapped also came. We decided to act the moment we got the IG’s directive to clean-up the area of these miscreants.
“First, we launched a probe into what might have triggered the violence in Mushin for so long. We discovered there was a misunderstanding between a Mushin kingmaker, Taoreed Faronbi, popularly known as Baba-Alado and a former NURTW Unit Chairman, Joel Ajiboye.
“Some persons, who were envious of Ajiboye, swiftly turned a minor feud into a bloody fracas in which several people lost their lives while properties worth millions were destroyed. These people went to recruit some criminals from Akala, Moshalashi and Alasalatu streets and they promised to give them all areas under Ajiboye’s control.
“They bought guns for them, bullets and other dangerous weapons and they sent them out to terrorise those they considered friends or supporters of the young man. They succeeded in pushing the young man out of his office and they took over all the areas under his control. But that wasn’t enough for them, then they decided to drive him out of Mushin. Every day, these hoodlums will group themselves from all parts of Mushin and they would attack Ereko and its environs and wreak havoc.
“It was in one of those attacks that a 20-year-old pregnant woman was killed at Awoniyi Street at Idi-Araba and also a young man simply identified as Adedeji Adenuga, was kidnapped, killed and his dismembered body was dumped at a refuse dump at Idi-Oro Bus-Stop, on Agege Motor Road. The atrocities committed by these hoodlums were numerous and we decided to go after them.” He narrated
We learnt that Lukman Lawal and some others were heading some of the groups wreaking this havoc while Monsuru Ibrahim, aka Danglash who was one of the financiers, and went for him. We later discovered during our investigation that Danglash was an intermediary between some of the sponsors and the hoodlums. He gave them money for guns and bullets and paid their salaries.
After we got this information, we went after them. Our first suspects were arrested at Awolowo Market through a tip-off and when we interrogated them they confessed that they were also armed robbers who have been terrorising Mushin. These boys also provided the information that assisted us in apprehending others. But we won’t relent until we get others involved.”
But When Crime Guard met with the 47-year-old Lukman Lawal, aka Oko, a native of Epe in Lagos State, said he was a member of the NURTW, Fadeyi Unit, Mushin, and he joined the union seven years ago as a Unit Secretary. He confessed to the killing of Aminat and many others during the crisis.
While narrating his involvement, Oko said: “I am the head of all the boys in Akala and they work under me; some of my boys: Oyinbo, Taye Sempe and Alowonle and some others belong to the same ethnic militia group and that lIesanmi, Wasiu aka Oloriesho, MC and others of another ethnic militia group, have guns. Ibrahim Sanni and I participated in the brutal killing of Aminat Lateef, in Fasanya Street, Fadeyi.
Oloriesho and Ilesanmi gangs also took part in killing the girl and many others. I was shot in 2010 on my left leg when I and members of my gang engaged the police in a gun duel at Ajah when one Hajji White, who took us to Ajah to invade a landed property.
Two members of my gang were arrested on that day. I returned to Akala and joined the fight in Mushin, when some NURTW leaders contacted my group and other ethnic militia groups headed by Wasiu aka Oloriesho, lIesanmi, Toheeb aka Alamu and others to help them chase away Toba and his group from the park ,and after we did that they asked us to ensure that he left Mushin completely, that is what we have been working on before I was arrested.”
Meanwhile, Saheed Lateef, the father of 9-year-old Aminat, was filled with joy when he learnt that the suspected killers of his daughter had been apprehended. He commended the police for arresting the suspects. He, however, pleaded that the court should not allow the suspects to go free.
He said: ‘’I couldn’t control my grief when I got the news of my daughter’s death. She was a young innocent girl who had done nothing wrong to anyone, but these hoodlums killed her when they invaded our area and started shooting sporadically into the air. Aminat was outside when the shootings started. She was on an errand for her mother, but was caught in the middle of the cross-firing.
“My girl had hidden herself behind a car. One of the suspects saw when she ran behind the car, he ran after her and opened fire on her. Her face was covered with bullet. When I saw her and it was so painful. I wished I was there to save her when she was being killed by those beasts. I have no business with them, why would they have to kill my daughter for no just cause. For two years, I have been searching for justice, now I feel great I will get it some day.”