Last Friday, a truck driver crushed a woman in front of Durbar Estate at Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area while trying to dodge Lagos thugs popularly known as ‘Agbero’. The thugs allowed him to escape after ‘settling’ them.
Angered by he development, the youth of Amuwo Odofin Low-cost Housing Estate, the neighbouring residential villa where the deceased lived, protested against the passage of trucks usually linking their residential villa to Mile 2-Apapa expressway, but the thugs were unhappy about this because it deprived them of the opportunity to collect illegal duties.
These thugs subsequently unleashed terror on the estate, including their councillors.
THE GLOOMY NIGHT
Amuwo Odofin estate was one of the over 30,000 low-cost housing units built in the 1980s by Lateef Jakande, the ex-governor of Lagos State. When their parents secured an apartment there, Felicia, Comfort and three other siblings of Odibo family would walk to school at Alaba, Old Ojo road with little or no worries about safety.
The roads were less rowdy, accidents minimal and the environment relatively peaceful. Those times have now passed.
“Now, I can’t even send my 11-year-old son on an errand to the junction along Mile 2 road,” Felicia said, regretting the death of her younger sister, Comfort.
From the early 2000s when terminals owned by various transport companies started to sring up around the estate, truck drivers began to use the residential villa as their parking areas and passage to Apapa seaport. Gradually, it became a centre of attraction for jobless Nigerian youth who acted as ‘Agbero’, taxing truck drivers.
Comfort Olota (Nee Odibo), a mother of three, stepped out of the house to buy fuel for the generator that will serve the night. Trucks had caused traffic congestion so she decided to alight from the bike and walk into the nearby Fatgbems Petrol Station.
As she crossed the road, the incoming truck ran over her, killing her instantly. Eyewitnesses said Comfort would not have been hit if the driver had switched on the truck’s headlamps. But the driver did not, as he was running away from the thugs after refusing to pay N1,000 at one collection point behind him in the estate.
When the Agbero arrived at the scene, they allowed the truck driver to continue his journey because he paid them off.
“When I got there, the truck drivers had escaped,” Felicia, the sister of the deceased, said. “I also saw the traffic congestion that time and I’m sure there was no way he could have escaped without the aid of these Agbero.”
As a result of the accident, the youth resolved that no truck would be allowed to pass through the estate in honour of the deceased. They kept vigil to ensure this.
INVASION BY CHAIRMAN’S BOYS
The Agbero at Durbar Estate junction normally issue tickets of N1,000 per truck at three places. The ticket had the name and logo of the local government on it, indicating the boys operated with the consent of the local authorities.
Since the estate youths hindered the movement of trucks that night, there was no truck to tax. The thugs were angry and by dawn of the next day, they went house-to-house to attack some of the youth they identified during the vigil.
Austin Bala, a barber from Kaduna state, was besieged while he was bathing behind a tree close to his salon and makeshift home. He had only only his pants on before he was cut with a machete on his back and shoulder.
“After thoroughly beating me, they dragged me to the junction and rebuked me for joining the protest against truck movement in the estate,” he began.
“Their leader said I had gotten confident because they allowed me to live and do business inside the estate.”
The beating meant that he shouldn’t dare to poke his nose in the estate’s affairs again. Austin’s pregnant wife, who had run out of the salon through the window, went for a scan to know the condition of their expecting baby when this reporter visited.
Another group of these attackers caught up with Olusanya Efunkoya at 4am when he was about to enter his house. The treatment Olusanya got was even messier. He was nearly killed.
From his back to the face and legs, he received multiple stabbings with broken bottles and cuts by the machete.
He explained that there was no way the doctor would know the full impact of the injuries on his skull except he underwent a medical scan.
While narrating his experience, he added that he was rejected by two hospitals before Restore Health Hospital admitted him.
Shockingly, Olusanya’s attackers had taken him to FESTAC Police station in the dawn to report that he was a ‘thief and rapist’. The police allowed them to take Olusanya to the hospital on the instruction that they phoned one of the officers upon medical admission.
“Instead, they threw me inside a gutter at Masamasa (in the estate’s neighborhood). When they noticed I was still breathing, they took me back inside their Keke Napep,” Olusanya said.
“They contemplated whether they should kill me or allow me to die on my own. They didn’t want to spare me but I was lucky because some of them insisted otherwise before I was then dumped by the roadside where one of my estate neighbours rescued me.”
Olusanya identified some of his attackers as Yakub Awosanya, Sunday Olofin Jimi also known as ‘Mandetta’, and Adeleke popularly called ‘Principal’.
After the early-morning attack, some residents, including Kehinde Salako who rescued Austin Bala, told FIJ that these attackers kept waylaying them days after.
When Michael Remilekun Ojomo and Adedeji Adebayo, the community’s councillors, went to appeal to the thugs, they were also attacked.
JUSTICE FOR COMFORT, PEACE FOR DURBAR
Comfort’s death will be hard on the family, especially her first daughter, Temitope, who is preparing to write her West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in May.
The 17-year-old schoolgirl, the head prefect of her school, hopes to study nursing in the university but he is downbeat because of her mother’s sudden death.
On behalf of the family, Felicia said they had resigned to fate about the incident, but they “want the insecurity caused by truck movement in the estate to be addressed”.
“This is not the first time such an incident will happen here. This is a residential area. We cannot continue living in fear because of the trucks,” she said.
Many residents of the estate blamed the local government authorities for complicity. One of them anonymously said: “these boys work for the local government. For every money they make daily, the returns go to the chairman”.
Up till now, the chairman has neither reached out to the family of the bereaved nor victims of the subsequent attack.
Festus Ero, the Personal Assistant to the Chairman, Valentine Buraimoh, told FIJ that the chairman contacted the security agents after the incident, adding that the perpetrators have been arrested and transferred to Panti Police station.
He however refused to directly respond to the question about the issuance of tickets to truck drivers within the estate. Instead, he maintained that the electronic call-up system, an initiative of the Nigerian Port Authorities/Lagos state government is already addressing the issue.
When contacted, Funsho Gabriel, the Divisional Police Officer of FESTAC police station, refused to speak with FIJ on the ground that “he doesn’t have the mandate to speak with the press.”
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.