*Manhunt for members in progress
By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
When he assumed duties as the Commissioner of Police, Lagos state, Hakeem Odumosu inherited among other security hallenges, activities of a notorious gang terrorising Satellite town and environs.
The gang looked so formidable that efforts made in the past by his predecessors to bring members of the gang to book failed woefully.
Residents of the areas where they carried out their nefarious activities were openly groaning in pains and anguish as the terror gang continued to grow in reputation and strength.
It was gathered that all efforts made to checkmate the gang failed due to the influence of its sponsors which included some serving and retired top security agents.
Members of the gang operated freely in Mile 2, Abule –Ado, Ojo raod, Abule-Osun, some parts of Festac, robbing and maiming, extorting, looting and killing people.
They confiscated people’s hard-earned property and forcefully ejected tenants after which they engaged their own tenants and took over collection of rents. They broke into warehouses stocked with goods and carted them away.
They were also into toll collection in the areas and the express road towards Seme. They subjected truck drivers and members of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, to untold hardships and extortion.
Many of the drivers had lost their lives while scores were seriously maltreated and injured for putting up resistance against their exploits. They operated at will with sophisticated weapons including stones packed in wheel barrows and broken bottles.
Tales of torture, humiliation
These hoodlums operated from Oguntade village close to Vin-Niger in Satellite town. They lived in three buildings that served as their hostels and armoury. It was in that village that they allegedly humiliated some policemen who came on official duties, last year, by forcing them to kneel down, flogging and torturing them after which they seized their weapons. Allegations were rife that a traditional ruler in the area was their godfather whose sons moved about with not less than 200 armed thugs to extort levies from their victims forcefully.
The first onslaught by Odumosu
However, the bubble burst penultimate Tuesday after members of the gang came out in their numbers and started unleashing terror on, not just tanker drivers but, residents of the area. Their deadly operation was so fierce that enraged truck drivers who tried to safeguard their vehicles were seriously battered and even shot at.
That attack attracted the anger of the new Commissioner of police, Hakeem Odumosu, who promptly deployed a large number of his tactical team drawn from major attack units in the command into action.
The team joined another battle-ready unit led by the former Police Public Relations officer in the state and now divisional officer at Satellite, Chike Oti and they carried out a massive onslaught that resulted in the dethronement and decimation of the terrorist gang.
Police sources hinted that during the operation which took place in November last year, police mobilized operatives to the scene and engaged the hoodlums by deploying anti-riot equipments to disperse them.
They reportedly fired several tear-gas canisters to disperse the riotous criminals but when they saw that they were not recording any success, they quickly adjusted and frontally engaged them.
The battle which was described as ‘a war of courage against overwhelming crowd of hoodlums brandishing all sorts of dangerous weapons’ lasted for hours until the police team was able to liberate Vin-Niger from them and chased them down to Abule-Osun.
Later, the battle shifted to Abule-Ado after a re-enforcement of policemen arrived to assist those from Satellite division and the hoodlums were dislodged after arresting about 40 of them.
Police raise red flag
The remaining members of the gang fled to their hideout at Seme area where they usually recruited their members from Benin and Niger Republic. Both the godfather and kingpins of the gang also fled from Oguntade village. Police, subsequently, raised the red flag and declared them wanted, dead or alive.
Few months after this encounter, Crime Guard learned that members of the gang and their godfather surreptitiously sneaked back into their den at Oguntade village and started unleashing fresh attacks on both residents and truck drivers to the extent that palpable fear gripped all the people living in the areas.
It was gathered that they boldly swung into action not knowing that Cp Odumosu who vowed to put a permanent stop to their criminal activities had set up a secret team with directives to stay around the areas where they were operating and report back to him.
Police sources said his stern order paid off last week after members of the gang engaged another group at Abule-Osun in a fierce fighting over extortion from truck drivers and residents of the area.
The fight for supremacy snowballed into a major crisis and Odumosu swiftly drafted his men into action. They succeeded in arresting some of the hoodlums including some commercial motorcyclists who used the opportunity to pelt some police men.
Arrest of kingpin
Crime Guard was informed that the Commissioner of police issued fresh directives to the Area Commander in Festac Town to, not only quell the crisis but, round up all those involved including leaders of the terror gang whose boys operated freely during the crisis. His efforts paid off after some policemen from Satellite division laid ambush at Oguntade village and succeeded in arresting one of the sons of the notorious Oba said to be the leader of the deadly gang.
His arrest elicited wide jubilation from residents of the area that had been long traumatized by their criminal activities.
SARS takes over
The suspect popularly called Prince was said to be the kingpin and leader of the gang during all their operations and he took orders only from his father, the Oba. Police sources said that after his arrest, CP Odumosu ordered the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, to take over the case and round up all the members of the gang.
Sources said that he also directed that all those who suffered deprivation, attacks, or extortion should be invited to substantiate their cases while a thorough surveillance and combing should be carried out in and around all their areas of operation.
AIG refuses transfer of suspect
In the same vein, it was also learnt that all efforts by the Oba to lobby for the unconditional release of his son failed based on the stern directives given by Odumosu.
This, sources said, prompted the Oba to move to Zone 2, Onikan to ask for the transfer of the suspect to the Zone but the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Ahmed Iliyau vehemently objected and thwarted further efforts in that regard.
As at the time of going to press, it was gathered the police have concluded plans to also arrest the Oba with a view to commencing more investigation into the activities of the gang.