Four suspected cult members have been killed in the Somolu and Bariga areas of Lagos State in a gang war sparked off by a N500,000 crumbs thrown at them by a Lagos politician.
Those killed included the 31-year-old self-confessed Eiye Confraternity leader, Ibrahim Balogun, aka Small Jpron, who was paraded in 2016 at the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters, Ikeja, for the killing of five rival cult members, but who recently left prison under controversial circumstances.
The other three people killed in what looked like a reprisal attack, were identified as Solomon (aka Solo), Baale and Omoba, while another suspected cult member, known only as Yesuru, was reportedly shot.
His whereabouts remains unknown.
Trouble started, according to Punch, when a candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the House of Representatives, Ademorin Kuye, allegedly held a meeting, at a restaurant in the Obanikoro end of Ikorodu Road, to thank APC members in the Somolu Federal Constituency for electing him as a candidate of the party during the recent primar
But cultists, suspected to be members of the Aiye Confraternity, a rival cult allegedly led by one Biola, trailed Balogun to the event, were they reportedly opened fire on him.
They were said to have accused the deceased of fleeing with about N500,000 given by a politician in another gathering.
Politicians have been blamed by Nigerians of sponsoring hoodlums, used mainly as thugs during elections.
Members of the deceased’s cult were said to have chased Solomon, an Aiye member, caught up with him around Larex Hotel, Palmgroove, and smashed a big stone on his head. The two other victims, Baale and Omooba, were allegedly killed in Bariga as tension spread.
The cultists reportedly rode on motorcycles through Onajimi, Oreofero, Balogun, Olorunkemi, Popoola and Bashorun streets, vandalising vehicles parked by roadsides.
A resident, who did not want to be named, told the newspaper the gang war started when Balogun was shot around 5pm on Wednesday.
“Kuye on Wednesday called a meeting to thank his supporters for helping him to secure the APC House of Representatives’ ticket. There were over 200 people at the gathering.
“He was still addressing the gathering, which included party faithful, when we heard three gunshots. There was panic in the restaurant as everybody ran helter-skelter.
“We saw that Small Jpron (Balogun) had been hit by bullets. We learnt that he was trailed to the event by some boys who were aggrieved that he fled with over N500,000 given to all of them to share recently,” he said
The source added that Solomon was seen at the event.
“Those that pursued him cannot be less than 300. They had different weapons. They caught up with him around Larex Hotel, which is a stone’s throw from the venue of the event. They broke his skull with a big stone and left him in a pool of blood.”
12 vehicles were reportedly vandalised on Onajimi, Oreofero, Balogun, Olorunkemi, Popoola and Bashorun streets during the pandemonium.
But a resident said the figure was higher.
He said, “Those hoodlums were many. They were in threes on each motorcycle as they went from one street to another, destroying people’s property. The vehicles damaged cannot be less than 20. We called the police, but nobody came until the hoodlums left.”
The Punch reported that there was still tension in the area as of Thursday morning, as some plain-clothes policemen raided the streets with a yellow commercial bus.
Shop owners, pharmacists and passersby were reportedly arrested during the raid as residents accused the police of arresting innocent people.
A source said the Somolu council chairman called the Somolu Divisional Police Officer and gave him 24 hours to produce Balogun’s killers.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, in a statement, confirmed two deaths, adding that 21 suspects had been arrested.
He said, “Around 5.15pm, the Divisional Police Officer of Pedro Police Station received a call that two persons, later identified as Ibrahim, aka Small Japron, and one Solo, were killed at a political gathering organised by Ademorin Kuye at Home Touch.
“The deceased, who had been involved in several cult clashes, were on the wanted list of the police for leading several cult fights in the Somolu, Bariga, Fadeyi and Ojuelegba areas of the state.
“They were trailed to the gathering by a rival cult, which invaded the arena and attacked people. The fight was, however, brought to an end by the police, who arrived quickly at the scene and made some arrests.
“Unfortunately for the notorious cult members, Ibrahim and Solo, they died from the injuries sustained during the fight.”
Oti, stated that the command had warned politicians against gatherings in public places without notifying the police for security reasons, said Kuye did not inform the police of the rally.
However, Kuye, when contacted, described the police statement as “irresponsible and stupid,” sayingthat he did not organise any rally.
He said, “The police were not on the ground; there was no rally. I know they are being used by politicians and we know those using them against us.
“I was in a restaurant at Obanikoro with some people. The restaurant is facing Ikorodu Road. We saw people running helter-skelter and seeking refuge. I tried to calm them down and enquired what happened. I was told that there was a gang war at Palmgroove bus stop. The man who owned the restaurant begged me to call the police. I called the DPO at Pedro. I know that campaign has not started. Do you organise a rally at a restaurant?”