•Raid Berger/Trinity residents
By our reporter
There are strong indications that some members of the dreaded one-million-boys gang, who went underground after massive police onslaught that led to the arrest of more than 400 of them a few months ago, may have resurfaced. Sunday Sun gathered that in the past two weeks some robbers suspected to be members of the gang have laid siege to some streets around Peoples/Berger area of Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos State.
They robbed with impunity, according to residents. Streets worse hit in the resurgence of the criminals are George Street and Palace Road. For instance, on George Street, the robbers struck repeatedly within days. They robbed residents of house No.1 two weeks ago and few days later, precisely on Thursday, November 29, they stormed No. 51, Palace Road. And just four days later, on December 2, revisited No 3, George Street. The attack on No. 3, George Street was the second.
On the same street, they also recently robbed houses No. 8 and 4. A resident of No. 1, Mr, Chuks Ezekiel, who recounted the incident to Sunday Sun, stated that on the fateful day, the robbers came around 4 a.m. and robbed five people, dispossessing them of money and cell phones. He added that they came in a group of five armed with guns. Ezekiel, who said he had lived on the street for 10 years, lamented the situation, saying it was an ugly development. “They robbed about five people downstairs and this is the first time such a thing was happening since I started living here,” he said.
A female victim in the attacked one-storey building, who gave her name simply as Mrs. Okeke, said the robbers came to her apartment with torchlight and demanded money from her at gunpoint. “I told them I didn’t have any money. They asked for my phone and I showed it to them and they collected it,” she said, adding that her kids were in the house when the robbers came, but no one was harmed. According to her, the robbers went from one apartment to another, but left “when they felt that everybody was at alert”. On the impact of the incident on residents, she said, “we are now protecting ourselves with prayers” before we go to bed. Also speaking on the robbery menace, a resident of No.3, Mr. Anyaso Ernest, who was also a victim when the house was attacked at 3 a.m., said he lost a phone with two SIM cards and a wallet with his identity card, among other documents.
He said his brother, who came visiting from Delta State, was also robbed. “My brother who came from Warri on Saturday evening was robbed of his handset and wallet containing N5,500,” said Ernest, who was a former executive member of Residents Association. Another female victim, who preferred anonymity, said because she was nursing a baby, her husband pleaded profusely that the robbers should have pity on them. The robbers were said to have gained access to the upper floor by climbing the handrail because the staircase on the ground floor had been fortified with iron-gate after the residents’ first experience. At No.51, Palace Road, the robbers were more brutal, beating some residents and tying up others. They robbed three apartments, according to the residents.
The robbers numbering four were said to have made straight for the middle floor on gaining access into the building where they tied up the occupants, threatening to kill them if they failed to surrender their money. Head of the family, one Chief Gilbert Ekwueme, later succumbed to their demand and allegedly gave them about N800,000. The robbers also carted away two laptops, five blackberries and two other phones as well as some recharge cards belonging to Ekwueme’s wife. The couple was locked up in their apartment before the hoodlums moved to the second floor and attacked the occupants. One Pastor Joy and her husband were beaten mercilessly when they denied having any money at home. Unable to bear the torture, Joy was said to have surrendered about N30,000 church money with her, while the robbers also collected their phones.
“The woman said later that she could not withstand the beating,” recounted a tenant who gave his name as Abraham Ajaka, secretary of Palace Road/Cemetery Landlord and Tenants Association. Not done, the robbers were said to have moved to the boys’ quarter section of the building where one Henry Dede lives and allegedly made away with about N120,000 from the man and his wife. Following the ugly development, it was gathered that residents in these areas and environs now live in fear.
However, according to the residents, they have come up with some security arrangements to checkmate the criminals. They disclosed that the matter had been reported at nearby Trinity Police Division and some security strategies had been put in place. In fact, it was gathered that 30 minutes after the Palace Road robbery, policemen from the division raced to the scene after a belated distress call, but the robbers had disappeared into the night when they arrived. “The police asked us what happened, and after narrating our ordeal to them, they left.