• 407 suspects in police net
• How One Million Boys were arrested
• Residents heave sigh of relief
By CHIOMA IGBOKWE and GILBERT EKEZIE
Sanity seems to have been restored in the area of Lagos, where a group of criminals popularly known as the One Million Boys operate fearlessly. People residing in the Ajegunle area had complained of violent crimes, including rape and armed robbery, against the gang. The Lagos State command ordered a raid of the area and they successfully restored sanity after many of them were arrested and the others relocated.
Saturday Sun investigation revealed that most of those criminals resided and operated within and around Ajegunle, in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos State. The group that has been in existence for years went into hiding due to some strict security measures applied by the community and the police. Those days, the boys, numbering 50 to 60 broke into homes and dished out terrors on residents. Their initial temporal disappearance from the streets of Ajegunle was celebrated by the residents and many residents that relocated to other areas as a result of the menace returned.
Unfortunately, the boys reappeared last month, in a deadlier manner shortly after they killed one Inspector Taiye Ajetumobi of the anti-robbery section in Area B Police Command. It was gathered that the inspector, who resided in that area, took it upon himself to form a formidable community police that complemented the efforts of the area commander in restoring sanity in the area. When the gang returned, they wrote residents informing them of possible attack. In fear, residents cooperated with them by always keeping money and valuable handy, which are handed over whenever the gang struck.
They have been operating and succeeding until their operation in Agugu Street, where they killed a young man, after robbing a resident. With the boy’s murder, the community could not take it any longer and they sent an SOS to the Commissioner of Police, who directed Area B commander, Apapa to ensure that the security threat was reduced to its barest minimum. So far, the police have been able to arrest about 407 suspected members of the group. Confirming the arrest, Commissioner of Police, Umaru Manko, said that the raid was led by Area B Command Apapa, comprising Apapa, Ajegunle, Tolu, Trinity, Amukoko, Ijora Badia, Layeni and Kirikiri Police divisions. “The onslaught was led by the Area Commander. Mr. Mohammed Alli, ACP and the various Divisional Police Officers of the command.
The crime rate in Ajegunle has been brought down to the “barest minimum” and arrests would become continuous,” he said. On the possibility of arresting innocent residents, Manko said: “We have reliable people whose duty is to ensure that criminals are sieved out from the crowd and so far the result has been good. I must commend the community for the success of this and I hope other area would understand that the police work would be much easier if community policing is practiced. Other commands are at alert in case some of them who evaded arrest chose to relocate.
“Meanwhile after the screening and proper investigation, all the suspects would be charged to court.” The development received encomiums and ovations from the residents who are grateful that they can once more sleep with their eyes closed. Relieved, some residents recalled the ugly experiences in the hands of these criminals. A resident known as Mama Beji thanked the police for riding the area of these criminals, who had made life difficult for them. “They visited my compound severally, and for the sake of peace and my life, we keep something for them. If you dare report them to the police, they will know and come back the next day. I bless the man who had the mind to report to the police. I pray that they don’t come back again.
Most of the bastard children in this environment belong to this group because they rape the young girls with impunity,” she lamented. Another resident, who pleaded anonymous, pointed out that carefree attitudes and lack of security consciousness contributed to the massive invasion of the area by hoodlums who are suspected to be living within the area. “The residents are not security conscious. They should know many of the boys that are into the acts, but no one is ready to give out information that would help the security operatives to nab them. I could remember that the kind of thing stopped for a long time when the late Bale of Aiyetoro and other community leaders worked with the police and some vigilance groups to fight crime in the area.
Then, the vigilantes went from house-to-house to fish out suspected criminals and that made them to flee the area. But when the Baale died, the whole thing changed, though vigilantes were seen operating in some communities then area,” he said. Another resident, who simply gave his name as Kola, was of the view that criminal activities in the area became so tensed and unimaginable since the killing of a Inspector Taiye Ajetumobi of the anti-robbery section in Area B Police Command. In his words: ”The late Taiye was one of those that helped in fighting crime in our area and after his death in the hands of armed robbers sometime ago, the boys regrouped.
During that period, the boys were not able to operate because he knew how and where to get them. He was also part of the vigilance group that ensured the area was safe for both the residents and visitors. When I heard that he had been killed, I knew that these boys would surely return.” Also reacting, another resident, Mrs. Kaka called on the police and the entire community to work together to tackle the insecurity problem. “I am ready to give them information so long as my safety is guaranteed.
They raped my daughter and she is yet to recover from that terrible experience. For years, they collected money from us for security and nothing was done, but today it is a thing of the past. I pray they will be consistent because as soon as the tension eases out they will surely return again,” she said. Speaking on the bursting of the group, the Area Commander, Mr. Mohammed Alli, ACP, insisted that the onslaught would continue until the entire Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area was sanitised of criminals and criminality. “What we have done was just the beginning; we are ready for them. Since the boys have decided not to allow the residents sleep comfortably, we will battle them until they are no more,” he said.
He hinted that the police were out to locate the criminals’ hideouts and ensure that the bad boys are shown the way out. “We are on course in our efforts to track down the boys that decided to make lives uncomfortable for the people. Having arrested some of them, we are still working to get others,” the police boss said. He blamed community leaders in the area for hiding useful information that would assist the police in fighting crime. He said: “The problem continued because the leadership is bad. They refused to furnish the police with useful information that would help in fighting crime and as a result, the situation got out of hand. We learnt that the so-called One Million Boys had been operating in the area and the residents kept mute.
That was why we called a meeting of all the leaders in the locality to tell them the need to furnish us with useful information that would assist us fight crime.” Alli assured the residents of adequate security, as the police would continue to visit criminal hideouts in the locality and called on the residents to always be vigilant conscious of their safety. “While we assure the Ajegunle residents of safety, they should be security conscious by reporting suspected criminal activities.
They should also suspect everyone,” he said. Meanwhile, sources revealed that 26 suspects have confessed being in the act. Also, it was gathered that 14 of the arrested people are prostitutes, while 18 are people who went to enjoy themselves at the Night Club. “Some of them have been freed. While we are still investigating others and those indicted will face the wrath of the law,” the area commander said.