In the early hours of Wednesday, an irate mob grabbed three persons believed to be kidnappers around a tunnel at Challenge in the Mushin area of Lagos state.
By the time normalcy was restored, one person had been killed, while two others landed in the hospital as a result of the injuries sustained.
This happened few weeks after two persons suspected to be kidnappers were burnt to death in Ijaiye area and another two set ablaze in Ile-Zik area of the state. In Ijaiye and Ile-Zik, some residents who spoke with TheCable had claimed that the tunnels beneath Lagos roads are interconnected and are used as hideouts by kidnappers.
A vulcaniser had reportedly raised the alarm around 6am when he sighted a “mad” man discussing with another person in the tunnel at the Challenge bus stop. The man allegedly confessed that his gang had been operating in the tunnel for the past three months.
When TheCable visited the place on Thursday, witnesses, however, dismissed the claim, describing it as a false alarm.
“How can you say human beings are inside this tunnel?” Olaleye, the secretary of the Challenge taxi park that is by the tunnel asked, as he took TheCable’s correspondent round the place.
“There is a factory just a few steps away from here and every morning, they discharge toxic waste through this tunnel, so tell me how any human can survive in there?”
Olaleye, who had resumed duty at the park as early as 5am, explained that around 7am on Wednesday, a man, who appeared to be mentally ill, was seen, coming from Akingbola, a street towards the opening of the tunnel.
“He started soliloquising as he approached, displaying lunacy and suddenly, he leaped on the slab atop the tunnel and jumped inside,” he said.
“Soon, people around and mostly passersby started gathering to watch him, and then some started shouting, here is another kidnapper, we shouldn’t let him go, there are still more kidnappers inside the tunnel.”
Olaleye, who was surprised as things took a strange turn, told TheCable that people, immediately, took the tunnel for kidnappers’ den when they saw something like a splash of blood at the opening of the tunnel. “But this thing is a paint stain and not blood,” Olaleye said. “It has been there for a long time, and if it were blood would it not have been washed away by rain and especially when this tunnel gets filled with water?”
“But this thing is a paint stain and not blood,” Olaleye said. “It has been there for a long time, and if it were blood would it not have been washed away by rain and especially when this tunnel gets filled with water?”
ATTACK ON THE POLICE
Olaleye and his colleagues, who feared the man would be lynched as attempts were ongoing to pull him out, placed a call to the Lagos emergency line, 112. When 112 didn’t respond, they ran to the nearest Olosan police station. “The DPO and his men came with us to this place, and the man was rescued from the mob. While this was ongoing, another mentally ill person was seen at the other end of the tunnel, and people started shouting again, another kidnapper has come out of the den. The mob descended on him and stoned the police to stay clear this time. The police, however, started shooting into the
“The DPO and his men came with us to this place, and the man was rescued from the mob. While this was ongoing, another mentally ill person was seen at the other end of the tunnel, and people started shouting again, another kidnapper has come out of the den. The mob descended on him and stoned the police to stay clear this time. The police, however, started shooting into the air, and shooting the crowd away, the man was rescued.”
A third mentally ill man who, again, surfaced at the scene wasn’t lucky. “The mob threw a tyre around his neck and burnt him before the police could move in,” Olaleye said.
Olaleye and his colleagues maintained that it was not possible for humans to stay in the tunnel as it is always flooded with toxic waste.
“People just raised false alarm,” a roadside trader said. “This is a busy area that as early as 4am, you will see people already moving up and down. We are always here 24/7 and this place is somehow secured by Odua People’s Congress (OPC).”
NOT A SINGLE KIDNAP CASE IN YEARS
A few residents who spoke with TheCable said for years that they have been in the area, not a single case of kidnapping has been reported. They said some hoodlums from the mob almost looted nearby factories but for the intervention of the police. A guard stationed at one of the factories just by the tunnel told
A guard stationed at one of the factories just by the tunnel told TheCable that hoodlums broke into their premises, and alleging that the factory harbors kidnappers, he was beaten and his phone stolen.
“The three people were identified as mad men,” said a senior police officer who spoke off record with TheCable at the Olosan police station. “Immediately information got to us, we rushed there and we were able to rescue two of them who had been battered by the mob. We rushed them to the hospital, and later, we found that another one was killed. We returned there, got the corpse and took it to the mortuary.”
The officer confirmed to TheCable that there has been no record of kidnapping in the area, and the mob must have acted on a false alarm. He, however, said investigations were ongoing and the alleged kidnappers currently being treated are in custody of the police’s anti-kidnapping squad.
FIVE PERSONS ARRESTED
In a statement, Olarinde Famous-Cole, spokesman for the Lagos police command, said five persons had been arrested for their alleged involvement in the lynching of two suspected kidnapper(s).
He added that the suspects would be charged to court for jungle justice once investigation was concluded.
Weeks ago when a similar incident happened in Ile-Zik area, Fatai Owoseni, the immediate past Lagos police commissioner had warned people to desist from carrying out jungle justice.
“There is no justification for jungle justice on suspected persons,” Owoseni had said, adding that it is barbaric and uncivilized, and a manifestation of the erosion of our moral values and a disregard to the sanctity of human lives which violates the rule of law and dents the image of the state.