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Repost:Ebutte Metta Residents Cry Out

ebute metta

•Ebute Metta residents cry out

RESIDENTS of Ebute Metta, on Lagos Island, are hardly the happiest people around. The community recently witnessed several building collapse incidents. This is even as it still parades a number of distressed buildings which have been marked by government agencies and other relevant building control organisations. Yet, the place is constantly plagued by activities of gangsters.

Believed to be driven by poverty, slum dwelling and unemployed young men of Ebute Metta Waterside are said to have, over time, evolved into diverse gangs which occasionally perpetrate armed robbery and burglary against fellow residents.

The latter problem reared its head earlier in the week when a gang of armed robbers invaded houses on Market Street in the area. Saturday Tribune got wind of the development after receiving a distress call from a certain Mr Tajudeen Agoro, who runs a law firm in the community. His office was burgled by the criminal gang.

Showing Saturday Tribune the havoc wreaked by the burglars, one of the lawyers working in the law firm said he was at a loss as to the reason for the attack, bearing in mind that no one would have expected money or any other valuables to be kept in an office.

The lawyer, speaking anonymously on behalf of Mr Agoro, who was not available when Saturday Tribune called, said the attack could have been politically motivated, given the fact that Agoro is nursing a political ambition on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).  The man listed some of the items stolen to include a laptop and an office phone.

But the lawyer’s political theory about the attack appeared punctured by the fact that after carrying out their mission at that office, the suspected criminals attacked other adjoining buildings where they robbed residents at gun point.

A resident, who is in his early 30s, Mr Abidemi Abidolu, had attempted an escape during the attack on his apartment. He had jumped from the upper level of their one-storey building and landed awkwardly in the next compound, fracturing his left leg in the process. When Saturday Tribune visited him in his room, where he was being treated by a local orthopaedist, the injured leg had become so swollen it was almost twice the size of the other.

“I had to adopt this audacious means of escape because of the terrible ordeal I was put through by another set of robbers who attacked us in 2012. I received the beating of my life and was almost killed by the hoodlums, who went away with the money I had saved from by business. This experience is still fresh in my memory and it was in a bid to avoid a recurrence that I jumped into the next compound. But as I landed, I heard a crack sound inside my leg and I knew something was wrong, but I struggled to get to safety,” he said.

From his hiding place where he was writhing in pain, Abidolu claimed he could see the hoodlums, numbering about seven, who wore black dresses, their faces partially masked with handkerchiefs.

By the time the robbers were done, Abidolu, who earns a living as a distributor of a popular soft drink, had, again, lost about N400, 000 and a gold wristwatch to the robbers. His wife, too, lost a sum of N50, 000 that was put in her care by her fellow traders. Even the couple’s little son was not spared. The hoodlums used his backpack to pack their loots, including phones and trinkets.

An elderly woman was said to have fainted when her apartment was being robbed in the area. But the hoodlums, said to be armed with guns, machetes and broken bottles, reportedly revived the woman by pouring cold water on her and yelling at her not to die as they would soon be through with her.

A resident, who claimed to have spent virtually her entire life in Ebute Metta, called on the government to come to the aid of the people of the area.  She blamed the development on thugs who, she said, were living in the slums of Ebute Metta Waterside, whose residents were known to be living in squalor.

She said many of the youth in those slums were jobless and as such perpetrated crimes for a living.

“Because of the activities of these thugs, Ebute Metta has become a dangerous place to live in. Often, the Ebute Metta Waterside boys break into people’s shops at night and steal stuffs. When they become desperate, they resort to outright armed robbery such as this. At times, after robbing people and it seems they don’t have a way of escape, these people jump into the lagoon and from there, they find their way to their lairs,” she stated.

  Ebute Metta is a Yoruba word meaning a place of three shores. It is one of the oldest parts of Lagos. Made up mainly of residential buildings, the area is densely populated. However, in the past few decades, the place seems to have become a haven of another set of three things: lawlessness, disorderliness and crime.

A couple of months ago, no fewer than three people were killed in the streets of Ebute Metta during a public brawl involving rival gangs who had been battling for supremacy. Also in December last year, gunshots were fired in the area during a political rally, and in the ensuing melee, four youths were killed and several others wounded. Twenty vehicles were vandalised on four streets, namely, Kano, Ondo, Odunfa and Ibadan.

Gang wars are not uncommon in the area. However, such wars seem to have taken a frightening dimension in recent days. The latest deadly war, according to reports, started when a gang known as “Otto Boyz,” believed to be one of the most notorious gangs ‘running’ Ebute Metta, went on the rampage in a reprisal after the alleged killing of its members by a rival gang.

It was gathered that numerous gangs that abound in Ebute Metta are usually recruited by politicians to achieve evil ends.

But in an apparent move to ensure that Ebute Metta Waterside was cleared of any wrong name that might have been attributed to it and also stop the menace of armed robbery in the community, the Chairman, Otto-Ilogbo Slum Dwellers Association, Mr Agbodimu Musbua, indicated that members of the community had set up a vigilance group to help boost security in the area. According to him, the group would work with the police.

 “Residents of Ilogbo, Britt Street, Olokodana and Atitebi in Ebutte-Metta have come together to form a security group that will work together with the police to boost security in our community. Other communities have their security groups and this has stopped armed robbery in their midst. We want to do same and stop these incessant robberies. The police alone can’t do it,” he stated

Culled from the Tribune online

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