August 27, 2017

Masquerade, followers cart away chickens, foodstuff from Lagos markets

Masquerade, followers cart away chickens, foodstuff from Lagos markets

Masquerade on the rampage

…Robbers attack eatery, estate, shoot customer

Masquerade procession in the olden days was fun. Children, particularly, often looked forward to the festival. But, today, the procession has become a tool of intimidation and sometimes robbery. Last Sunday, around Idimu area of Alimosho local government area of Lagos State, residents witnessed a show of shame by a masquerade and his followers. Olasunkanmi Akoni reports.

Masquerade festival, “Egungun,” as it is locally called, is an annual festival to re-affirm the spiritual contract between the community and the ancestors.

Egungun enjoys reverence and adoration from the community in the same measure that people expect divine blessings from them. For many, it is also a symbol of ethnic citizenship in the community.

Masquerade on the rampage

.The festival affords the people the opportunity to relive the memories of their ancestors. Offerings are made to the ancestors and performances held to remind the people of the lives of the ancestors, while helping to reinforce the relationship between the living and the dead.

In this particular instance, the masquerade, which originates from the Idimu dynasty, is an annual event organised to appreciate the gods of the land for continued peace, harmony, unity and cordial relationship among indigenes and visitors alike in the community.

Therefore, in what could best be described as sheer comedy, a masquerade, called “Jegun Jeran” (bone, meat eater), and his followers, last Sunday morning, held the community to ransom, as he and his followers went on the rampage, looting every food item in sight at various markets around Isheri – Idimu in Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, in old Alimosho.

The masquerade and followers took away life chickens, yams, plantains, cassava flour, “garri,” groundnut and red oil, seasonings, among other stuff. They disappeared afterwards.

Before the masquerade emerged from the shrine, his followers, wielding long canes, had come out in large numbers and gathered at Idimu Market area, smoking substances alleged to be Indian hemp, which they called “fish”.

A resident, who simply identified herself as Madam Akinoye, wondered why masquerades should be allowed to act with impunity in the 21st century.

“We call on government to protect us from these undesirable elements stealing our hard earned properties in broad day light under the guise of the celebration of a festival”, she said.

“This must stop or else they will meet their waterloo the next time they operate”.

Armed men invasion

Same day, chaos reigned when some gunmen operating on motorcycle stormed an eatery located within the premises of a filling station in the LCDA, along Ikotun, shooting sporadically and an unidentified customer sustained gunshot wound.

“Two armed men operating on commercial motorcycle, popular called “Okada,” arrived at about at the popular eatery which is often filled with customers at such period, who come around particularly to buy bread”, an eye witness told Sunday Vanguard.

“Immediately after the men alighted from their Okada, one of them went inside the eatery while the other waited outside. The robber, who went inside the eatery, dispossessed customers and staff of their cash and valuables and was returning to meet his colleague outside when an unsuspecting customer made his way to the eatery.

“The customer was shot by the robber who apparently thought he was coming to confront them.”

The gunmen immediately escaped on their motorbike.

The incident caused confusion as everyone in sight ran helter-skelter to avoid being hit by bullet.

The police from nearby Area “M” Command and Idimu Division, who later raced to the scene, took the gunshot victim to a nearby hospital for treatment.

According to sources, several calls made to the police while the robbery was on-going were not responded to only for a policeman to call back to inquire who had been calling the line. And when the policeman was told that a robbery just took place at the eatery and that a victim was shot, a team of policemen raced to the scene and started shooting into the air, shouting “Where dem dey?” , meaning “where are the armed robbers?”.

One of the managers of the eatery (names-withheld), who confirmed the incident, said the victim sustained injury on his left arm and was receiving medical attention. He said armed men in the area always take advantage of Sunday afternoon when the area is less busy to carry out their nefarious activities.

He, therefore, urged the police to increase their presence by way of patrol on weekends.

In a related development, armed robbers stormed a nearby housing estate and went on robbing spree. No life was reportedly lost or anyone shot in the operation. At press time, no one has been arrested by the police in connection with the masqueraders’ looting and robbery incidents.