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NEWS: Lagos residents lose sleep as ‘One Million Boys’ returns

• There’s nothing like One Million Boys in Lagos -Police
• They held a newborn head down, threatened to kill him if…

Residents of Iyanera, Alasia, Ayetoro, Vespa, and Oto among other communities in Ijanikin Local Government Area, are calling on the Lagos State Government and Police to rescue them from the ruthless activities of the resurfaced dreaded robbery gang, ‘One Million Boys’ and other criminal groups in the communities. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports
Residents of Iya-nera, Alasia, Ayetoro, Cele, Vespa, Adio and Oto among others in Ijaniki Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos State are allegedly fleeing their homes for fear of the suspected return of the dreaded armed robbery gang, ‘One Million Boys,’ and other dare devil robbers in the area, terrorising the communities.

They are, equally, calling on the state government as well as Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imhimi, to come to their rescue as the fearful robbery groups are on rampage in their communities, maiming and petrifying residents who once experienced peace from their activities. One Million Boys is the name given a horror robbery gang known for its notorious activities around Lagos State and its neighbourhoods. The robbery gang was allegedly formed in Ajegunle by a group of about 20 boys with an objective of fighting perceived injustice in the city. However, some members of this group formed to address certain social neglects in the society, having experienced power, hijacked the gang and switched to robbery and other criminal activities.

They maim and rape women in the course of their robbery operations. Following the unsavory reputation of this gang, a movie, titled: ‘1 Million Boyz,’ was released in 2014 based on their activities. Sunday Telegraph learnt that the name ‘One Million Boys’ was gotten from the operability of the gang

Of course are not up to one million members but they operate in a group; they move in form of a crowd when they are in criminal prowls, which scare the residents to their marrows. The gang can stay hours in a particular location unperturbed during robbery exercise.
They steal every good thing found in victims’ houses including shoes, clothes, wristwatches, money, jewelry, even cooked food and drinks. On some occasions, they compel their victims to serve them food. Nobody, who encountered them, would like to meet them again and perhaps, this is the major reason they are relocating.

Recall that sequel to groans and cries from Lagosians on the activities of this group, on October 9, 2012, the Lagos State Police Command raided Apapa and Ajegunle and about 130 suspected members of the group were arrested. The raid and many others in the preceding years, stemmed their activities, a development many Lagosians were pleased with; saying the routine horror from the gang had been put to rest until the news of its resurgence greeted the residents of communities in Ijanikin, following alleged pockets of robberies here and there.

Many blamed their resurgence on the harsh economic atmosphere in the country. A commercial motorcycle operator (Okada) at Iyanera Busstop, Bolaji Akeem, said the One Million Boys, who were chased out of Ajegunle are now in their community, saying that the current gang terrorising Ijanikin, operate with the same precision as the former One Million Boys. “The people that witnessed the last three months robbery at Ofodieze Street at Iyanera said the robbers were over 15 in number, carrying different types of weapons. We have never had this case before.
We know about the Badagary ones but we had never seen this type before,” he said. More so, while Akeem believes that the departed One Million Boys resurrected following the hardship sweeping across the country, Mr. Jidenma Obiora is confused whether the gang is the original One Million Boys, or a clone of its sort or another dare devil criminals in the environment.

According to Obiora, when the robbers come to a place, they rob the whole street unchallenged and these have made many people to say that the police are sympathisers to the movement otherwise it could be concluded that the police are equally as scared as the masses to face the robbers.

He noted that until government addresses these issues of social imbalances, there will be more violent criminal groupings as a response to the crises created by the governments at different levels, which (government) supposed to be solution givers. “Our governments are forcing these boys into robbery and other kinds of crimes, while our women are ravaged in prostitution,” he said.

He insisted that some of those criminals forced out of Ajegunle by police have regrouped and now ply their nefarious trade in other areas of the state. To this, experts are beginning to see the social malady as a movement that the government must not treat with kid gloves, saying that the government must engage these youths with a view to addressing the remote causes of their emergence.

Mr. Ovie Akpawe, a security expert, said killing climinating the boys will not solve the problem but creating a means of livelihood would, saying that the resurgence of the gang means that they have been able to sell their ideologies to some people who bought the idea. He said: “If one can tag this a movement, then it becomes an issue to be treated with seriousness. Movement doesn’t die easily if at all, it lives forever.

It might be held down for long but will surely come up. “All that the government needs to do is to create employment for our youths and then empower the police, not to kill them, but to deter them from committing crimes. It’s then we can say that we have solved a problem. Peace achieved by force doesn’t last.”
Bunmi Orewore, one of the victims of regular armed robbery in Alasia, who cannot, in a hurry, forget her experiences when the armed bandits invaded her family house and dispossessed them of their valuables. While her father was hit with the butt on his head, other robbers collected everything that they saw.

The robbers ordered them to bring out their bags which they emptied on the floor and collected every valuable they found in them except the money put inside a Bible by one of the girls. They collected perfumes, money, and new phones. She narrates: “It was the visit of my uncle that led to the robbery. One of my mummy’s brothers, who lived in US visited us during the day and gave us some cash and other materials. May be one of them was around and gave out the information to the robbers, who came by night.” While Bunmi and her sister were lying on the floor of the living room,

the robbers broke into the house. In fear, they shouted ‘mummy’ but the robbers ordered them to remain calm. Her father was terrified with the though that the robbers would rape his two daughters as has always been the cases of others visited.

Today, her family had relocated to Amuwo- Odofin to escape the shock and activities of the criminal gangs terrorising the area. Favour Ajibola is one of the victims that have lost sleep in the area and each time she sleeps and hears a sudden noise, it brings her close to her encounter with the boys’ activities. She is terrified by the thought of re-encountering the gang again. She said: “This is the second time we are being robbed by this gang. Sometimes, they announce their coming. They don’t rob one house alone, they rob more than one house on the street.

And one funny thing is that they are not disturbed each time they come. They will relax as if they own the house with you. “We sleep in fear with our eyes open. At night, any noise we hear increases our fear. Currently, there is not a month that comes and goes that these robbers don’t invade people’s houses. Somebody said they entered their house and told them to bring food for them as they were hungry; and they were given eba and still robbed them.” According to her, one Alhaji on their street, who was robbed, packed the sand on where they stepped and made some incantations but the outcome of such action is yet to be known by other residents.

Robbers held a newborn’s head down, threatening to kill him
A resident of C. Ofodieze Street and trader, Mrs. Chika Unaegbu, narrated a bewildering story of a robbery incident that took place in her neighbourhood. According to her, the robbery lasted for over three hours. It started at about mid night and lasted till a few minutes after 3am. In the case of the robbery that occurred at C. Ofodieze Street, the robbers invaded a storey building and robbed the whole four ground flats.
She said: “The robbers tied up the residents two and two and robbed them, including an old woman. They took everything in their houses. As if that wasn’t enough, the robbers opened their fridge and drank all the drinks. “The most interesting part was the nursing mother, who was delivered of a baby boy few weeks previously.

The gang tied her legs and hands likewise her husband and asked them to produce their money. Delay to respond to them pushed the robbers to hold the baby by one leg with his head facing down and threatened to kill him if the parents didn’t respond. “That was a horrible situation. This happened three months ago. It was after this incident that the residents met and employed the services of Aguleri boys to watch over our community. While the robbery was going on, the police didn’t show up until afternoon. But I am not sure if the police were contacted early enough. “Please if there is a way you will help us to draw attention of police to this axis, please do. If these boys see the presence of police here, they won’t be coming here with this frequency. For three hours, they robbed four flats without challenge.

That was too much. My cousin, who lives at Ayetoro, complains of the same robbery cases in their locality.” Wondering why the gang choose to go to the poor areas instead of rich estates, Victor Balogun argued that poor men do not go to banks, saying that he (poor man) keeps his money at home. He said: “They keep their money at home. And in most cases, they come back from work or business late and cannot afford to go to bank. So, they have money readily available at home.” He noted that with a threat to their lives, they will give up their possessions to stay alive, saying that only the living go out in search of daily livelihood.
Pockets of robberies here and there doesn’t mean area unsafe –Police

When Sunday Telegraph contacted the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Chike Oti, to comment on the situation at these communities where residents are allegedly relocating to safe places due to the activities of One Million Boys and other dare devil criminals in their axis, he said such claims are untrue. According to him, there is nothing like One Million Boys anywhere in Lagos, saying that pockets of robberies here and there do not imply that the areas are unsafe or porous. He said: “Police said a pocket of robbery here and there does not mean that people are running away from the area.

I want to say that your claim is not true because there is nothing like One Million Boys anywhere in Lagos. There is a police division over there taking care of the communities. “In spite of whatever may have happened, we also want the residents to stay calm, partner with the police and supply them with necessary information to end crimes in the area.
They should do away with unstructured police and partner with the police for thorough policing of the environment.

There is no cause for alarm. “Lagos State is working hard and has achieved security of all sectors in the state. It doesn’t mean that when there is a case of robbery, it means that the entire place is not safe. CP has been up and doing in the area of security of Lagos State. However, we will ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order there. The residents shouldn’t panic

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