Police alert public on ritualists’ hot spots
• As Killers Change Tactics
• Ogun Residents Worry Over Prosecution Of Suspects
• Say Delay In Taking Action Fuelling Ritual Killing
Rising incidents of ritual killings have compelled the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) to warn the public to be wary of some hotspots, where heinous crimes thrive across the country.
In a statement, which has gone viral on the social media, the Police advised Nigerians, especially travellers, to avoid these areas, especially at night, in order not to fall victim.
The areas include; Ota, Lambe, and Mowe, in Ogun State; Toyota Bus Stop along Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, Ikorodu, bridge linking Abiola Garden with Otedola Estate, and Isheri Olowo-Ira (under bridge), all in Lagos State. Others are waterfront, in the River Niger area of Onitsha, Anambra State; Isiala-Ngwa in Abia State, and Igwurita, Muruokoro, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The police also listed Oro Road, in Ilorin, Kwara State; Lokoja-Abuja Expressway in Kogi State; Kaduna Eastern By-Pass, Bank of River Kaduna, Kaduna/Abuja Expressway in Kaduna State, and Abuja Motor Park, Kawo Motor Park, and railway tracks in Abuja.
The NPF enjoined victims/members of the public to send sms/pre-text message to any of the Police Control Room mobile lines- 07055350249, 07035068242 and RRS Control Room 2, Alausa-08065154338 and 07055462708. Control Room 3, SHQ, – 08079279349, 08063299264 and 767 (toll free line).
“Make sure you drive at the middle of express road at all times. If anyone tells you that your car is sparking or there is fire or smoke coming out from your car bonnet, please do not listen just drive on. That is their new tactics,” the statement warned.
When The Guardian called one of the control room lines, a male voice on that end confirmed that it was the control room in Alausa, Lagos State.
However, a new ritualists’ den was discovered two weeks ago in Sango/Ota, Ogun State, where a victim was allegedly tied down. The newly discovered den makes it nine, the number of such spots exposed in the state since 2013.
Despite the discoveries and arrests so far carried out, affected communities and relatives of the victims are largely in the dark regarding the fate of suspects arrested, even as they are also not pleased with the disposition of the police in the cases.
They claimed that little or nothing is heard of the cases after the usual, “the command has started an investigation into the matter.”
Before the Sango/Ota ritualists’ den was uncovered, another one was discovered at the Iyana-Ilogbo area, near Sango, where detectives from Sango Divisional Headquarters, early last year arrested two middle-aged men for being in possession of a corpse and several human parts.
It was a victim held at an uncompleted filling station used by the culprits, who luckily escaped that alerted residents of the area to the gruesome activities in the hideout.
Since 2013, ritualists and the Ogun State Command of the NPF have been having a running battle. For instance, on February 2, 2013, the Police stormed an underground den in Idode-Imomo, Ijebu North-East Local Council and arrested three suspects: Kehinde Rufai, Debo Awonaya and one David. Eyewitnesses said youths uncovered the den after a 70-year-old man, Kehinde Rabiu, went missing.
On April 2, 2014, a man identified simply as Gbenga was arrested at Iyana Egbado Village in Ewekoro Local Council for being in possession of human parts, including intestines stashed in a polythene bag. The suspect had attempted to kill a woman before a passerby rescued her. The arrest further led to the discovery of plastic containers filled with human blood; ladies’ undergarments; men’s and women’s shoes, bloodstained cloths, among others, under a bridge, along the Abeokuta-Lagos Expressway.
Barely 24 hours after that discovery, residents of Akinremi Estate in the Adigbe area of Obafemi-Owode Local Council, on April 3, 2014, discovered yet another killers’ den. Furious youths immediately set the building ablaze. The discovery was grisly, as the killers were also breeding babies for ritual purposes.
A search of the place revealed an ivory bowl containing fresh blood; coffin; effigies; scorpion; and assorted charms. Also found at that location were an international e-passport and identity cards of junior and senior secondary school students of Sacred Heart Catholic College, Oke-Ilewo, who may have been killed by the kidnappers.
On June 9, 2014, a den was discovered at Olugbode Community, along Lafenwa-Itele Road in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Council. There, an unidentified boy who went missing while hawking on Alhaji Jamiu Sulaimon Street was rescued.
Again, on June 21, 2014, policemen from Ajuwon Divisional Headquarters sealed a building in the Lambe area of Akute-Ajuwon, Ifo Local Council, allegedly used by armed robbers and kidnappers.
On May 7, 2015, the police uncovered a den at Unity and Peace Estate, along Itele-Lafenwa Road, Ota, Ado/Odo-Ota Local Council, following the escape of a 28-year-old lady, who was held in an uncompleted building in the estate.
On June 19, 2015, policemen attached to Ishara Division stormed another den at Orile Eleposo, Ode-Remo area in Remo North Local Council. The discovery followed the case of a missing student of Gateway Polytechnic, Sapade in Ogun State, Miss Morenikeji Owolabi. Before the den was discovered, the lady had already been killed by her abductors, led by one Femi Macaulay.
A year after the last den was uncovered, residents of the state have been kept in the dark as to what has become of the different suspects arrested. That explains why they have faulted the alleged poor handling of the cases by the Police, a situation they claim has given rise to the soaring number missing people on daily basis.
In attempting to absolve the police of blame, the former State Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, had claimed that the suspects were always charged to court, adding that the duty of the police stops at arraignment and prosecution.
“There are some things that we cannot decide at the police level because we would need expert opinion. So, people should be patient. Investigation is not like a film that you’ll start seeing, and in the next one or two and a half hours, it is finished. No, investigation takes time. So the public should just be patient, and I am sure we are going to do the right thing.”
According to Mrs. Abike Jemiri, a resident of Itele, the community is worried that despite their efforts, which led to the rescue of a young hawker, over two years ago, the whereabouts of the boy and the fate of the suspects are unknown.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO), Vigilante Service of Ogun State (VSO), Soji Ganzallo, said his men are working hard to discover dens across the state.
“We are leaving no stones unturned. As a grassroots security outfit, we have tasked our members to be on the look out for these dens,” he said. He called for the establishment of more VSO units and urged government to empower community leaders, because they are closer to the grassroots than politicians.
Meanwhile, current PPRO, Abimbola Oyeyemi said: “We are working to ensure that crime is reduced to the barest minimum. That is why our men are seen everywhere in the nooks and crannies of the state and our intelligence gathering method is improving daily.”