By Evelyn Usman
LAGOS—There was commotion, yesterday, at Ojokoro, along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, after an underground ritualists den was uncovered.
A mob then set two suspected ritualists ablaze, while two policemen, who attempted to protect one of the suspects from the mob, were over powered and injured.
The ritualists den popularly known as Ajele, is an underground manhole, which stretched from one end of the road at Obadeyi Bus Stop to an adjoining street. Unsuspecting victims are reportedly kidnapped unnoticed and taken inside the manhole.
Vanguard gathered that the bubble burst, yesterday morning, after the cry for help from a woman was reportedly heard by street sweepers, who were at work.
The sweepers reportedly raised the alarm on sighting the woman being dragged into the underground den. Some brave passers-by and members of the Odua People’s Congress, OPC, who reportedly went for the victim’s rescue, apprehended one of the captors and set him ablaze.
Building at the end of tunnel
Vanguard gathered that at the far end of the tunnel was an abandoned building, with about four rooms, where several female clothes, braziers and shoes were found in a bag.
Eyewitnesses claimed that a decomposing corpse was also found in one of the rooms, from where an offensive stench was emanating.
Before the arrival of security agents, OPC members could not go into the tunnel as they claimed that it was too dark.
While the search was still on, a man suspected to be one of the ritualists, reportedly ran out of the tunnel. He was subsequently lynched. Two Police Corporals, who attempted to prevent the mob action were overpowered and injured by the crowd.
The surging crowd, who stated that there were more suspects in the den, refused a team of policemen from accessing the den, as they insisted on carrying out a mob action on anyone that comes out of the tunnel.
It, however, took the combined effort of the Military, conventional and Mobile policemen, including those attached to the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, led by the Commander, Mr. Olatunji Disu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, to assuage the crowd.
An OPC member’s experience
One of the OPC members, who gave his name simply as Taju, said: “There are about four rooms at the end of the underground tunnel. The first man we caught was found sitting inside one of the rooms.
“We were able to rescue the woman, who was crying for help. We only searched two rooms remaining two.
“So far, we have arrested three persons but the mob set two of them on fire. Security agents prevented the third person from being set on fire. If the Police or Army will volunteer to join us, we will comb the entire tunnel and bring the remaining people out.”
Mob lynched 2, we arrested 3—Police
But the RRS Commander, Disu, led a team of policemen from one end of the tunnel to where the uncompleted building was located, where the bag containing lots of clothes and other personal effects were found.
Speaking with journalists after the search, which lasted over one hour, ACP Disu said: “We have told the crowd to maintain peace and allow us to do our job. It will be good to get any of them to talk to us, as this will aid our investigation and help crack this issue. About two policemen have been injured.
“The Commissioner of Police is sending Scene of Crime experts and Police dogs here. That is the best international standard. We are still making effort to clear the manhole to see if people are still there.
“So far, two people have been lynched and three arrested.”