By Uju Mbanusi
A 25- year- old man, Ifeanyi Ofoegbu, was recently arrested by the Police in Bariga area of Lagos, for parading himself as a military man and terrorizing his neighborhood.
It was gathered that the suspect who hails from Anambra state, moved into an apartment in a compound at No. 9, Shokunbi- Bariga a few years back, and started trading in second –hand clothes which he brought from Cotonou in Benin Republic and sells them at Yaba market, Warri in Delta State and Benin in Edo State.
According to one of his neighbors who agreed to speak with Crime Guard on condition of anonymity, the suspect was a well behaved young man, who showed respect to everyone that crossed his part. This endeared him to his neighbors. All went well, until sometime in 2011, when his neighbors noticed a dramatic negative change in his character. The once adored Ifeanyi, suddenly became Ifeanyi the neighborhood terror.
“When Ifeanyi moved into this compound a couple of years ago, other neighbors referred to him as my son, and that was how I took interest in him. We all admired him because of his respectful character; he played with the children and bought gifts for them. There was never a dull moment in the compound when ever he was around. About two years ago, we noticed a sudden change in his character.
“He became violent and fought any body that he thought provoked him, irrespective of who the person was. Even the children in the neighborhood were not spared. He beats them up at the slightest excuse, and waits for their parents or guardian to accost him, during which he will either pick up a bottle or any dangerous object in sight, threatening to use it on them. He boasted loudly that nothing would happen to him, as he was a military man.
“This baffled us, because we did not know when he joined the army. We knew him as a second hand clothes dealer who shuttled between Cotonou and Nigeria. He also stopped his trading at that point. Most times when he wants to make trouble, he would put on a military uniform and would intimidate and assault people. We avoided him due to this. The Landlord invited his elder brother on several occasions to caution him, but his efforts went futile. At one instance, Ifeanyi chased his elder brother out of the compound, warning him not to ever come advising him again, if he wants to be at peace with him,”stated the elderly man.
Crime Guard gathered that the incident that led to his arrest was based on a clash with the Landlord of the house and other tenants over the disconnection of electricity in their apartment on the 15th of August, 2013. Before then, the suspect had allegedly attacked some children playing near a fish pond in the compound. He reportedly told the landlord that if he failed to call the children to order, he would snuff life out of them and dump their bodies in the pond.
According to another neighbor who also spoke on condition of anonymity, “On the 14th of August 2013, a neighbor moved out of the compound and in the process of removing his air conditioner, disconnected some of the electrical wires. This affected some of the rooms as they had to go without light until it was re-connected.
The next day, being the 15th of August, Ifeanyi returned from where ever he went to and, instead of cooperating with the Landlord and affected tenants to find a solution to the development, he went to the circuit and removed the fuss, thereby disconnecting the whole occupants of the building.. Knowing who he was, some of us pleaded with him, but he would not listen.
“This prompted the Landlord to call in the Police. When the Police arrived, he went and put on his military uniform. He refused to re-connect the wire when the Police asked him to do so, nor go to the station with the Police, claiming that as a military man, he can not answer to any other authority except his Commandant. He also refused to show an identity card to buttress his claims.
The Police left after ordering him to report to the station in two hours. He went there and claimed he was a private in the military attached to Ikorodu division, but dispatched to Somolu/Bariga area to help maintain peace and order. The DPO then placed a call across to the Commandant at the water side, who said he does not have any body that goes by that name among his men. After some insistence on the phone with the Military officer that he was attached to his Command, the officer drove down to the Police station to see things for himself. In fact, there was jubilation in the neighborhood after he was arrested by the police, “he said.
Crime Guard gathered that there was mild drama at the Bariga Police station when the water side Military Commandant got to the station and was confronted with an unknown face. Seeing that his game was up, the culprit gave in and confessed that he was not in the Military. This made the DPO to order his immediate arrest and detention.
The culprit, thereafter, led some Police men to his abode where various ATM cards belonging to other individuals and some military camouflage uniforms and some parks of India hemp were recovered. The case has since been charged to court and he was subsequently sentenced to prison after he pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him.