By Monsuru Olowoopejo
In March 2008, when the current administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State took a bold step to transform the popular Oshodi market, residents heaved a sigh of relief, giving the terrorising activities of miscreants in the area then.
Seven years later, Vanguard gathered that the miscreants, mostly teenagers between the ages of 12 and 16 have lately beseiged the area again. The miscreants have continued to engage nefarious activities that disturbs public peace especially during the early hours of the day and late at nights.
The state Environmental and Special Offences Task Force Unit led by Chief Superintendent of Police, Bayo Sulaimon has continuously raided the area to arrest the miscreants. But efforts by the taskforce to dislodge them from the Oshodi Under-bridge, the railway line and drainage channels, which serves as their abode has proved futile.
Vanguard learned that the miscreants migrated into the state from neighbouring states-Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Osun, Ondo among others. Sources said that the continuous arrest by the state task-force unit have failed to yield any result. They have continued to flock the market.
Mrs. Salawat Hussein, a trader, recently narrated how she lost her valuables to the miscreants who posed as commuters.
Narrating her ordeal, Hussein said: “I thought they were also commuters, but I was surprised they crowded the vehicle. Within few minutes, rather than board the vehicle, they left after dispossessing me of my valuables.
“Despite the well-lit street, I lost my belongings to four teenage hoodlums at the Oshodi area. They accosted me brandishing dangerous weapons, so, I had to allow them have their way to save my life. “They made away with my hand bag containing various valuables, including my Blackberry mobile phone, Identification card, cash among others.
”Initially, I wanted to put up some form of resistance, because I see them as too young to rob me, but on a second thought, I decided to let go. Within a short time, the boys disappeared into thin air, as they dashed across the rail towards Anthony end. I called for help, but nobody came to the rescue.”
It was also gathered that the major flashpoints where the underage miscreants operate is the Oko-Mola area in Oshodi axis of the state. This is one place that has since become a major settlement for underage in the state.
After dispossessing passers-by of their phones and other valuables at nights and early hours of the day, they return to this place to sleep.
Vanguard gathered that they sell the stolen products to unsuspecting residents during the day. It was also learned that the taskforce raid Oko-Mola every two weeks, but new set of miscreants return to the place.
Earlier, Sulaimon said: “Whenever we raid this place, we usually find [at least five miscreants who had been arrested before. This raises much concern, if there was a breeding place for miscreants outside the state before they relocate to Lagos.
“The court conducts adequate screening of the miscreants before the commencement of the trials. This is what we have adopted before now to ensure underage hoodlums were not imprisoned. That was why it is not possible for us to imprison any child.”