Residents, passersby and security operatives were still along the Ijaiye-Ojokoro axis of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway when TheCable visited on Wednesday. Many of them were waiting to get a hold on the kidnapper that would emerge from the tunnel.
On Tuesday, Tunji Disu, commander, rapid response squad (RRS) and his men had stormed the area after residents claimed that kidnappers may have found an operational base beneath the express road carriage— this, following an alarm raised by one Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) worker whom, while doing her cleaning job on the road, allegedly heard a victim’s cry for help from the tunnel.
Joined by soldiers, the security operatives cleared their way into the tunnel in search for the victim and suspected kidnappers. After what is believed — according to witnesses who spoke with TheCable— to have been a thorough search, no victim was found. A one-storey building on Ajala close, few metres away from the express road, allegedly used by the suspects was equally searched with no victim found. It was alleged, however, that a suspect who was trying to escape through an outlet from the tunnel was later found, and an impatient mob descended on him, eventually setting him ablaze.
A one-storey building on Ajala close, few metres away from the express road, allegedly used by the suspects was equally searched with no victim found. It was alleged, however, that a suspect who was trying to escape through an outlet from the tunnel was later found, and an impatient mob descended on the suspect with beatings, eventually setting him ablaze.
“In the process, people moved in there to help and also noticed that some persons who had some charms like gourd in their mouths tried to escape and that made a crowd to suspect something unusual,” Fatai Owoseni, Lagos police commissioner said at the scene on Tuesday evening. He added that the police would deploy sniffer dogs that can also penetrate the canal to see whether evidential materials could be retrieved.
“Nobody would have ever believed that a kidnapper’s den is here,” Toba, a commercial bus driver told TheCable.
“This is the road we use every day, and when you come here in the night, it is a big and lively market that no one would ever think a kidnappers’ den is within.”
Jenny, one of the residents said she is suspecting that some yahoo boys have resorted to kidnapping for money rituals since they now get nothing or little from the fraudulent activities they engage in on the internet.
For Toba, he believes the kidnappers are still somewhere hiding in the tunnel and may not be apprehended until the whole place is bulldozed.
FALSE ALARM… ONLY CREATED AN AVENUE FOR HOODLUMS TO LOOT OUR HOUSES
Ahmed, a former resident of the area who claimed to be familiar with the alleged building being used by the suspects dismissed the notion that a kidnappers’ den was in the area. “This is nothing but a false alarm,” he told
“This is nothing but a false alarm,” he told TheCable. “You see, I’ve been here since yesterday and the story is neither here nor there. Since yesterday, we are yet to see incriminating evidence to show that, indeed, kidnapped victims are being held here.
“That building they say is a hangout for the kidnappers actually has a sad history. The owner of the building, an old man, was murdered years ago. The family, however, continued to live there but they have always been disturbed by flood. And just a year or two ago, the man’s children, most of them now married and had left, decided to raise a storey on the building for their aged mother.”
Since the ground floor was abandoned, Ahmed said some boys in the neighborhood took advantage and started using the place as a smoking joint.
“It is not a hangout for kidnappers, but a place where all these boys come to smoke and sell hemp,” he said.
Residents gathered by the tunnel had told TheCable that women clothing, allegedly belonging to the kidnapped victims, were brought out of the building, but Ahmed said those were for people who lived there.
“If I leave my house for another place, and the house is yet to be occupied, chances are that some of the things I left would still be there,” he said.
He explained that the LAWMA woman who was sweeping raised an alarm, but another woman who was with the LAWMA woman told them that they saw someone lying under the slab and when unsure if he was dead or alive, people moved closer and within the minutes, he was burnt.
“No human will survive inside this tunnel, people should drop that story. The man burnt might be one of these mentally challenged persons who had slept under that slab over the night.”
At the roadside where majority gathered, the story is that the tunnel leads to this building on Ajala Close where the kidnappers keep their victims. Just a step into the street, those who have been forced out of the building and the surrounding buildings are crying foul, that their houses are no kidnappers’ den and this incident has seen hoodlums breaking into their homes to loot their properties under the guise of searching for kidnappers.
“All my things have been stolen,” an aged woman whose house is behind the alleged kidnappers’ building told TheCable. “They broke the door, jumped in and took my things.
“Earlier, when the policemen came, they were on the other side of that tunnel where they said they heard a woman’s cry for help, and then suddenly, these boys just started coming from all angles, throwing stones into our houses, forcing us to flee.”
The woman said she has lived in the area for more than 30 years and not once has a kidnap case been reported.
“It was flood that spoilt the ground floor that it was abandoned, we never traced kidnapping to the place. The widow of the house owner who now lives upstairs was forced out yesterday, and her things thrown out.”
Another woman on Ajala Close told TheCable that her shop was looted and she could only run away with a few things.
Ajala, a teacher related to the man whom the street was named after, said she was returning from school when she saw all that was happening.
“On getting to my area, the police had barricaded entrances to our houses. When a policeman, eventually, helped me into my house, everything has been looted, my credentials weren’t even spared,” she said.
One of the policemen now stationed at the area told TheCable that, “the thing happened at the canal, and I don’t know why it extended over to the houses here.”
On Tuesday, the police commissioner, however, said the command has arrested about 7 persons who are suspected to be using those buildings as a base for rituals.