Traders, residents count losses as Surulere’s gang violence continues
Despite police presence and arrest of 75 suspects in the Aguda area of Surulere, Lagos State, in the gang violence that began on Sunday, residents woke up yesterday to another drumbeats of war as sporadic gunshots rend the air, leaving the streets deserted for fear of being caught in a cross fire between the hoodlums and security agents. The violence resumed last night while some residents were returning from work.
For the second day running, traders, business owners and residents affected by the violence have lamented their huge loss to the mayhem. One Rukayat Kadiri disclosed to The Guardian that “some of the hoodlums appeared in masks numbering more than 200 as they vandalized and looted shops at will on Oladimeji Street.
“When it started, we locked ourselves in one shop and they forcefully broke the door, collected our monies, goods and even brutalised us. The police were helpless, as they could not stop the rampaging hoodlums. They watched while these gangs turned the street to a war zone. Even some people going to night vigil were robbed last Friday.”
Also, the Internal Controller at Chefvys Shoprite, Aguda, Mr. Oladimeji Quadri, decried the low turnout of customers, which has affected their sales.He said: “A lot of shops were vandalised, but we are lucky they couldn’t break into our store due to the police intervention.”
In Aguda modern market, a middle-aged woman who preferred to be addressed as ‘Madam Bee’ explained that the fight has destabilized their market for the Christmas shopping as many of them who had stocked up for the season got their wares looted.
“They locked the market gate, we could not go out nor our customers could come in as heavy gunfire rented the air. The government is part of our problem. They know what to do to restore normalcy to the area, but they would not, because majority of the thugs are their political foot soldiers.”
Similarly, one Chukwuemeka Umeh, who owns KC Bags enterprise in Enitan Street, Aguda, revealed that property estimated at over N150,000 were carted away from his shop. He said: “They invaded my shop and carted away goods like travelling bags and shoes. I was even lucky that the N43,000 contributed for NEPA bill in my household was not taken away. If not, how would I explain to my neighbours?
“Sending police to a scene of crime after the deed has been done is what I described as ‘medicine after death’. We heard that about 75 persons were arrested in relation to the happening. My question now is, how can we ascertain that those arrested partook in the violent act? If they have arrested some people, what are the items found on them? Police should start having people at heart rather than being after money, because all these people would be released on heavy bail condition.”
Umeh added that the same violence broke out last three months and his shop was also looted, yet nothing was done to nip the violence in the bud.Suggesting a solution, he urged the government to engage these boys by recruiting them into various government parastatals.
In the same vein, a restaurant owner at No. 50, Enitan street, disclosed how she and her customers were robbed. She said: “About N200,000 with which I wanted to settle some debts was taken away from my shop. Also, some customers who were eating were robbed of their mobile phones and money. I wonder if these boys have parents, they wouldn’t be terrorising the society this way. Government should intervene using a strategic security model,” she said.
In her reaction, the Iyaloja (market leader) of Atara Shopping Plaza, Mrs. Ojebisi Williams Famodun, expressed her dissatisfaction over the violence and appealed to the government to bring a permanent solution to the street violence.
“Government knows where these boys reside, they should take action. For instance, at Obasun Street, there are many of them there. They called themselves ‘sons of the land’. Whenever trucks with container or goods come to deliver to their customers, they pounce on the drivers, seeking for money. And when the drivers refuse, they beat them up with machete, cutlasses and broken bottles.”