•The gang killed my brother—resident
•They stabbed my wife, collected her money- another resident
•Victims identify stolen items from recovered valuables
By Evelyn Usman
One of the most dreaded traffic robbery suspects, Toheed Fashola, who had been terrorizing commuters in Satellite area of Lagos, has been killed in a shoot-out with the Police, during a foiled operation.
Fashola, popularly called Epo, was killed alongside another suspected member of his gang, while a third suspect who sustained gunshot wound, was arrested by policemen attached to Satellite division.
Information at Crime Guard’s disposal revealed that Fashola and members of his gang usually came all the way from Ajegunle, to operate at Satellite.
By the way, the Mile-Two Badagry expressway is a four- lane expressway, with two lanes for those moving inward Orile and two for those going inward Mile Two.
A middle lane separating each of the two lanes from the other, which is meant for rail, has been overgrown by bush.
The bush according to victims was used as hideout for these robbers, who usually came in two motorcycles. They would station their motorcycles at the Orile lane, cross over to the lane designated for Mile commuters, which is usually busy with vehicular movement on a snail pace owing to bad road and long queue of trucks.
The gang, hijacked the perennial gridlock along this axis to attack their victims, dispossessing them of cash, phones and other valuables. They usually operated at Dantata, Fill Niger, Alakija, Oluti and Ile-Epo bus-stops, at night.
Some victims who attempted to put up resistance, were shot dead in the process, while others were stabbed.
Police to the rescue
Following series of complaints over the attack, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Zubairu Muazu, directed the Divisional Police Officer, Satellite , CSP Chike Oti, to bring the robbers to book. Oti, as gathered, led teams of policemen to the scene where some arrests were made, with policemen stationed at some of the flash points at night.
With the presence of the Police, the gang, also changed its strategy of operation to the early hours of the morning.
But the gang met its waterloo on Tuesday, as a team of policemen led by Oti, stormed Alakija at about 5am, while the gang was attacking passengers in a commercial bus.
A passenger in the bus who spoke with Crime Guard, explained that, “When they sighted the police, they jumped over the median and ran into the bush by the rail lane from where they opened fire on the Police. Their intention was to cross to the Orile lane, where their motorbikes were parked and zoom off. But during the exchange of fire, two of them died, while the third one was shot in the leg”.
When news of the killing filtered round, residents thronged the scene to have a glimpse of the dead robbers. Most of them were jubilating, pointing at the corpse of Fashola, as a known face.
One of the residents, Echeorom Chike, said, “this particular one killed my brother. We were returning from market in February and were trapped in traffic at Dantata, at about 9pm. His gang started robbing. When they got to our car, I handed over my phone to them. My late brother, Nnamdi, bent down to pick his phone that was under the seat, only for this one ( pointing at Fashola) to shoot him in the neck. He died five days later at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Ikeja”.
Another resident, Mr Udoh Akpan, a retired Customs officer, said the same suspect stabbed his wife.
Akpan said, “They accosted us at Alakija, shattered our windscreen and asked us to bring all we had. My wife wanted to remove her identification card from her bag before handing it over to them but this one ( Fashola) stabbed her in the shoulder saying she was wasting their time. Since then, the Police have been on his trail”.
Aside residents of Satellite, Crime Guard learned that those at Tolu, in the densely populated Ajegunle area of Lagos , also expressed joy that the terror of their area had gone.
A man who refused his name in print, said, “we can now sleep with our two eyes closed in Tolu”
Surprisingly, some victims who were informed of the arrest, stormed the scene to identify their stolen items, among those recovered.
Suspected member of Fashola’s gang who was arrested, Quadri Suleiman, admitted being a member of the gang.
He said, “I joined them few months ago. I live at Old Ojo road, Ajegunle. We all come from there to operate here. Epo (Fashola) was our leader. He usually called me to join him to work. We don’t call it operation, we either call it work or harvest. He was the one that killed at will. If someone did not release his valuable to him on time, he would shoot the person. He did that because of his temperament. He said there was no time to waste during operation, that any time wasted could lead to our arrest. We were even afraid of him. I regret my action”, he said.
11 others arrested
Spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, CSP Elkana Bala, who confirmed the incident, said 11 other suspected traffic robbers were also arrested in different parts of the state.
One of the arrests involving four suspects according to him, was made at Igando area of the state.
He said: “The four suspects were arrested with one locally made pistol. They also confessed to be members of Eiye confraternity. A follow up investigation by the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, SCIID, Yaba, led to the arrest of additional seven suspects who confessed to be responsible for series of robberies at traffic points around Yabatech, Ejigbo, Igando-Ikotun, Ipaja and Isolo areas of the state. Other items recovered include: one tricycle, five Bajaj motorcycles, two cutlasses and two phones”.