With Femi Ogbonnikan; 08126483389
No fewer than 46 additional members of the notorious cult group known as “Awawa Confraternity” who have been terrorising residents of Agege and its environs have been arrested by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of Lagos State Police Command. They were arrested last weekend along Agindigbi Road, Ikeja and in Agege, Lagos.
Saturday THISDAY learnt that the operation which lasted over three hours was led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Timothy Ojetunde, with policemen from three other divisions within the area. The RRS had received reports from members of the public that the cultists were sighted snatching valuables and maiming innocent people, especially passers-by in Agidingbi, Agege and Ogba, before they swooped on them.
It would be recalled that the RRS operatives had for sometimes after receiving series of reports put surveillance teams in place to monitor the activities of the group in Agege, Ogba, Ifako Ijaiye, Iyana Ipaja and Abule Egba, which culminated in the first arrest of 15 suspects about two week ago.
Investigations further showed that the cult group continued to commit various atrocities.
Following a tip-off, it was gathered that the operatives responded swiftly to the complaints of two of their victims (names withheld) whom they had dispossessed of their valuables along Agidingbi Road, towards Omole and Akilo Roads.
According to RRS sources, “apart from incessant complaints from the residents, which we receive on a daily basis in our office, alleging that some group of young boys and girls whose ages range between 15 and 22 years were making life unbearable for residents and disrupting the peaceful atmosphere in Agege and its environs, they also rape, loot, and dispossess law-abiding citizens of their belongings. During their recent attacks along Agindigbi Road, we were able to arrest 46 of them, including six female members, while others narrowly escaped.
“Having identified their black spots and bases around Agege and its environs and several petitions received at the RRS headquarters, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, from the residents of the area, we carried out a special raid on the areas identified as their hide outs.
“And before we could make arrests, they engaged us in a serious fight, pelting us with stones and broken bottles, but our men remained unshaken, and eventually, we were able to arrest these suspected cultists.”
On arrival at the RRS Headquarters in Alausa, the suspects were allegedly threatening to make life unbearable for the policemen who arrested them that “no one can arrest them and go scot-free”.
They have the guts to be threatening us that, if we don’t let them go, their colleagues, who are yet to be arrested would besiege our base the following day and set them free. But we are more than ready for them,” the source said.
Findings revealed that some, who confessed to the crime, said they joined the dreaded cult group because of peer pressure influence.
“I was forced to join them on the account that I would be very powerful among my peers. They promised me, that I would have free access to girls who are members of the group. One thing is certain, once you join the group, it would be very difficult to pull out or renounce your membership. And you must also be part of their proceedings and operations anytime they are set to go out. We loot, rape and rob innocent members of public each and every time we were in operations. We don’t fear anybody even the police, because we are always in hundreds,” said Lukmon Arowoseni, one of the suspects arrested.
While confirming the arrest of the suspected cultists, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmus, described the Awawa cult group as a violent group whose activities, were under the close watch of the police. She added that the command would not condone activities threatening the peace of the state.
“We are after them. Their financiers and leaders are our targets, with those in our dragnet, the tide is against them,” he concluded.
‘I Beg for Lift and Rob My Victims of Their Cars’
Nemesis has caught up with a 25-year-old armed robbery suspect currently cooling off in the detention of operatives attached to the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command.
Paul Bassey was apprehended last weekend, shortly after he had snatched a car, with a toy gun along Lekki – Epe expressway, Ajah, Lagos.
The suspect, a traffic robber, who is a native of Akwa Ibom State, was arrested by policemen on patrol after he had successfully dispossessed the owner of a saloon car, with registration number, HB 96 AAA (Lagos) and all his belongings after threatening him with a toy gun.
According to an officer attached to the RRS; “We were on routine patrol duty when we suddenly sighted a vehicle on high speed coming behind us. The said vehicle overtook us and its driver forcefully opened the door and started shouting for help.
“Immediately, we gave the car a hot chase, which led to the arrest of a young guy, later identified as Paul Bassey, threatening to snuff life out of the driver if he stops the vehicle.
“We had to radio other police officers around the axis to lay ambush ahead for the vehicle. But on getting to Lekki – Epe Expressway, our men there had positioned and manned the road and the suspected criminal had no choice than to surrender to the officers. This is how we were able to intercept and arrest him.”
On arrival at the RRS Headquarters in Alausa, the suspect confessed to the crime, saying that he was a lone operator, operating along the Lekki – Epe expressway axis to snatch cars and rob innocent members of the public with a toy gun.
“I devised the tactics of stopping private car drivers and seeking for a free ride (lift). Once I hopped in to the car, I would point the iron-made gun at their foreheads and subject them to my control. If they cooperate with me, I will only collect their belongings and let them go. But if they drag with me, I will hit them with my stainless toy gun. I operate very early in the morning and late at night, because they won’t know that I was using fake gun to threaten them”, confessed the 25-year-old suspect.
Disclosing how he got the toy gun, he said: “I picked the stainless object from the ground, which I later carved as a gun. I took it to a spray painter workshop along Ajah Road and it was made real. I realised that I can be using the object, which is originally meant to spray vehicle to rob unsuspecting members of the public early in the morning and late in the night, because it really looks like a gun.”
The victim, Mr. David Oriakhi, who also followed the suspect to the RRS’s Headquarters in Alausa, Ikeja said he regretted offering a stranger a lift.
While explaining his ordeals to the police, the victim said, “I left my boss’ place in the morning, hoping to get to my house before 7a.m. The suspect waved at me at VGC Roundabout and as a Good Samaritan, I decided to give him a lift. On getting inside the car, he pointed a gun at me, asking me to surrender my belongings to him, which I did. But to my greatest surprise, he asked me to turn back at VGC Roundabout and head towards Epe.
“At this point I got apprehensive, but at the same time, looking for necessary help that could come my way. When I turned towards Lekki-Epe Expressway, on getting to Ajah Roundabout, I sighted stationary RRS officers on duty, then and I decided to ram my vehicle into them and shouted for help.
“This was how they chased after us and the vehicle was intercepted and suspect arrested eventually”, said David.
The victim said that the car was giving to him as Christmas gift by his employer, after 13 years of working with him.
“This car is a miracle vehicle for me. It was my boss who gave me as a gift for being a committed staff, and sincere with him”, he added.
Lagos State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmos, a Superintendent of Police (SP), confirmed the arrest, adding that the police would continue to work round the clock to reduce crime in the state.