By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
The notoriety of Shomolu/Bariga, a suburb of Lagos, has never been in doubt. In fact, the violence that typifies the area resonates around Fadeyi and Jibowu metropolis. From the western flank, it also spreads, like wide fire, towards Gbagada and even Oworonshoki areas. Criminal gangs are reputed to nurture their expertise in Shomolu/Bariga before expanding their services to other areas of the state. It competes with Mushin and Ajegunle and their products pride themselves with unassailable powers to ‘kill and bury’.
However, the Anti-cult Unit of the Lagos police made a breakthrough after they arrested three of the most dreaded members of the cult group at Somolu/Bariga. The suspects are alleged associates of the most wanted suspected kingpin in the cult gang called Jepro who allegedly started his reign of terror in Somolu/Bariga areas of the state. Jepro is alleged to be into armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism, etc and his alleged exploits earned him not just the fearful nickname, Jepro, but also significant wealth to show for it. He allegedly flaunts his wealth publicly as much as he boasts about his exploits in the criminal world.
Police sources said he boasts that nobody can subdue him and members of his alleged gang because of the calibre of their sponsors. According to sources, their suspected sponsors are mostly top politicians who use and dump him as the need arises.
It was learned that he has been in and out of prison severally and each time he was caught, he boasts openly that he will be released. And, it will later come to pass.
That was the crime situation in Shomolu/Bariga area until the table turned for members of his alleged gang. Sources said Jepro, who has been on the wanted list of the police for long, escaped several times after committing crime and efforts made to arrest him always ended in noughts. It was said that there was a time detectives trailed him to the prison and were awaiting to arrest him after his release but they were shocked after he disappeared without trace. Later, he re-surfaced after some suspected cultists struck in the area and his name was prominently mentioned as the leader of the violence that erupted during their operation.
However, it was the end of the road for three members of his alleged gang, recently, after detectives from the Anti-cult Unit of the state Police Command, headed by CSP Uduak, succeeded in demystifying them. Police sources said the three suspects were arrested ‘like chickens’ in one hideout. It was learned that on that day, the police at the unit received information that Jepro was in the area. The apprehensive but heavily armed police unit, personally led by their Commander, Uduak, swung into action and proceeded to the area. They invaded the hideout where a group of young men were said to be busy smoking weeds and drinking. It was gathered that the moment Jepro saw that the area was surrounded by policemen, he took to his heels, leaving some members of his gang who gave up and surrendered.
The three suspects allegedly opened up about their exploits during interrogation by the police. However, the snag now, according to police sources, is that the suspects, who initially opened up by saying that they will name top politicians in the state that sponsor their criminal activities, surprisingly sealed their lips and vowed never to talk about their exploits or expose their sponsors. Police sources said that all efforts made so far for them to open up have failed.
When Sunday Vanguard confronted the suspects, one of them, Ogunlaja Elijah, 28, denied his involvement in the crimes he had been associated with but agreed that he belonged to Aiye Cult group in Shomolu/Bariga. He narrated how he was initiated: “I am from Ogun State and single. I live with my mother at Elanke Number 4, Ibadan Street, Oworonshoki.
“I have three friends from Osun State. One day, we went for their father’s burial. That was where the battle was staged. It was night before I knew they had initiated me into Aiye cult. They were four in number, so they put me in their midst. After that, I left them there and came back to Lagos. That was in 2015. “They came to Oworoshoki where I live with my mother to stay with me. So, last year, 2018, was when the issue happened, when they killed one of my friends Tunde. They shot him and used machete on him. The guys that shot him were Shehu, Aro and Yusuf from Eiye Confraternity. It was during November and December period and they were also killed. They were the three guys that initiated me and I normally operated with them. The other cult group killed my cousin and it led to a fight and my guys killed them also. I got my gun from a security guy from Benue State; he sold his gun, a short locally made gun to me for N22, 000. After our encounter with the police, they collected everything from us. I was remanded in Ikoyi prison in January and released in March, 2019. I heard they did peace talk in the community. My mum called me to say she was sick and was in hospital. I had to go there to give her money for drugs and that was when the police arrested me. I feel very sad and regret killing people.”
SUSPECT No 2
“My name is Yesiru Adesanya. I am 37 years old. I attended Shomolu Baptist Primary School. Femi Jepro initiated me into Eiye Confraternity. He asked me to come to Fadeyi as he wanted to see me, but I didn’t know about cultism because I did not go to school. “When I got there, I saw people gathered. They pulled off my shirt and initiated me. I have not killed anyone in my life. I was inside with other cult members when I heard there was a fight, I just went outside, but I didn’t get involved in the fight.”
SUSPECT No 3
“My name is Kunle Sholeye. I am 38 years old. I attended primary and secondary schools. I am married with a child. I have never killed anybody in my life. I didn’t benefit anything from belonging to Eiye Confraternity, and I pity myself for joining. I joined because Femi Jepro called me that there was a party and when I got there, they initiated me. As I joined, they made me a member of Road Transport Workers Union at Jibowu”.
When asked about their advice to government on cultism, the trio stated that government should call for peace in the community. “They should help youths to find jobs because if they are gainfully engaged, they can’t be used for cult activities”, Sholeye said.