Photo: Adebayo and One of the vandalised vehicles
Many households in Isiwu community, Ikorodu area of Lagos have yet to get over shock occasioned by shootings in the neighbourhood last Friday.
Commercial activities have also remained skeletal as locals fear a recurrence of the incident where many people sustained gunshot wounds and property destroyed.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that some hoodlums invaded the community on the morning of September 2 and opened fire at the palace of the newly installed Eweye of Isiwu, Oba Olukayode Balogun.
The thugs, allegedly acting on the orders of one Yinusa, reportedly attempted to kill Balogun who contested the throne with him.
It was gathered that lingering cases of land-grabbing in the community fuelled the violence which started brewing after Balogun was installed on August 24.
Our correspondent, who visited the community on Tuesday, saw one of the vandalised vehicles parked in front of the bullet-ridden palace.
A resident, Kareem Mabayomije, said he was shot in the leg while he and some youths were trying to shield the monarch from the attack reportedly led by one Supol.
He said, “On Friday morning, I suddenly heard gunshots. People came out and we discovered that some thugs wanted to kill our monarch. It was one Supol who led the hoodlums. I was shot in the leg. He is a land-grabber. He and his gang members were sent by Yinusa who contested kingship.
“They first came at 7am. They returned around 9am and were shooting at everyone. Kabiyesi hid under the chair. Women and youths came out to protest.
“With the help of vigilantes, Supol and one other were arrested. It was Yinusa who sent them. Yinusa is from this community too. He forcefully collected lands from many families. We don’t feel safe in the community again. We need adequate security.”
A youth, Olamilekan Banwo, told our correspondent that two days before the incident, one of the people hanging a banner at Isiwu junction in honour of Balogun was attacked by some hoodlums.
“Since the Friday incident, people have been living in fear. By 7pm, everywhere is already deserted, except for security agents and youths keeping vigil outside to avert another attack. The government should intervene in this matter,” he added.
An indigene, Lateef Olatunde, said about 40 hoodlums laid siege to the palace “in an attempt to kill or abduct Kabiyesi (the monarch),” identifying some of them, as Sheki, Alegba and Ismaila.
“It was Yinusa who sent them. We learnt they are still hiding in the bush,” he said.
The chairman of commercial motorcycle riders in the neighbourhood, Opeyemi Raji, said the bloody attack dealt a huge blow to their business.
He stated “People are afraid to work. Before now, we closed at this park around 11pm, but the tension on the ground has changed that. We now close before 7pm. We do bonfires at night to watch over the community. No one can go to the sites on the outskirts again for fear of being attacked.”
A bet operator, Lukman Solanke, claimed that the hoodlums collected N400,000 from his worker who was trapped in the shop during the attack.
He showed our correspondent some parts of his wooden stall ripped open with cutlasses and bullets.
Solanke stated, “The first time they came, they didn’t attack my shop. But when they returned two hours later, they shot at my shop and collected the N400,000 I made during the week from my worker. It has affected my business. We don’t know what to do.”
He also accused the police in Imota of indulging the hoodlums.
A resident, Abdulwasiu Oladipo, said the attack had denied families comfort at night as people could no longer sleep in peace.
Apart from Yinusa, he identified some of the alleged perpetrators as Oreofe, Asela, and Sheki, among others.
Another resident, Akeem Tanimowo, 40, explained, “Yinusa is working with other land-grabbers to frustrate people. The hoodlums started shooting from Isiwu second junction.
“There was a man called Mr Yekini Owolegbon. About four years ago, they attacked the man in his house. They beat him to death over land issue. They didn’t allow him access to his farm which was about 10 acres.
“They equally took possession of my father’s farms comprising over 20 acres. It was because the new kabiyesi said there is no more room for land grabbing that made them to go after him.”
One of the injured, Akeem Raji, said he wanted to rescue the monarch when a bullet hit him in the hand.
He also alleged that the police from the Imota Division covering the area responded late, alleging that the Divisional Police Officer compromised.
His sister, Tanwa, called on the government to come to their aid.
She stated, “People can no longer sleep peacefully. Four of my siblings were injured, including Akeem. One is still in the hospital. My husband now stays outside all night with other men to secure the community.”
A woman in her 60s, Gbemisola Saka, told Saturday PUNCH that her son, Adedayo, was stabbed in the chest and head.
“There is panic in the community. We can no longer live in peace. I have never seen that kind of attack in my life. It was like a war,” she added.
A food seller, who identified herself simply as Kafayat, said the attackers came in motorcycles and shot indiscriminately.
She said, “It was God who saved us. We can’t stay outside beyond 7pm again.”
An elder in the community, Alhaji Wahab Otaiku, said land-grabbing had been on in the community for years with many families deprived of their farmlands.
He alleged that Yinusa saw the ascension of his rival (Balogun) to the throne as an imminent end to such act.
Otaiku said, “He (Yinusa) has been preventing people from going to their farms and whoever refuses will regret it. This has been going on for about eight years now. I had to abandon my farm and that of my dad because of his trouble. The government should do something about land-grabbers disturbing people in this community. Imota Police Station has not been helpful.”
The monarch stated that there was a kingship tussle between him and Yinusa, culminating in the attacks.
He said, “On Thursday night (September 1), Imota DPO called me on the phone and told me he was at the junction. He said youths watching over the community after the Wednesday attack were hurling stones at him. I faulted his claim and asked him to come to the palace. He didn’t arrive until about an hour later whereas, from the junction, it is not up to a 10-minute walk.
“He wanted the youths outside to leave but I told him they were protecting us. He said he wanted the matter settled and I told him to get those boys arrested first. In the morning, the hoodlums came in and were shooting at the palace. They said they would either kill or abduct me. It was people who rallied round that saved me. They destroyed my vehicles.
“The first and major cause of this was because I was installed as the monarch. It was the Lagos State Government that gave me approval and I told him to challenge the state government.
“Yinusa has been victimising families on their land for a long time. I have no issue with him over land but I told the DPO I didn’t want land-grabbers in my domain.”
Several calls our correspondent made to Yinusa’s mobile were not picked. He had also yet to reply to a text message sent as of the time of this report.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Muyiwa Adejobi, said Yinusa was at large and denied claim that the DPO compromised in handling the matter.
He stated, “The (said) Mr Yinusa is at large. The DPO has transferred the matter to the SCID (State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department), Panti for discreet investigation. The DPO and the command have not been biased in handling the case. We are on the matter and justice will be done.”