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Saturday, December 14, 2013

“Murdered police witness was our uncrowned monarch”

Killed man
Thirty six-year-old Segun Ogbere had on Tuesday gone to the Yaba Magistrate Court, where he was a key police witness in a murder case against a former Baale of Ilaje area of Bariga, Kayode Ayetiwa, but he would not come back home alive.
Ogbere, who was the alleged leader of the Shaggy Boys – one of the gangs in control of Bariga – was trailed from the court by suspected members of the Downtown Boys, a violent gang in the area, and stabbed to death around University Road, Akoka, Lagos.
A police source told Saturday PUNCH that Ogbere fled the court premises when he caught a glimpse of a member of the rival gang but he was cornered around 3pm by the members of the gang who trailed him in a red Volkswagen Golf car.
A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Saturday PUNCH that Ogbere was to be crowned as Baale following the removal of Ayetiwa, who is being prosecuted for murder.
The resident said, “Ogbere’s father was the Baale before he was poisoned. Ogbere, who led the Shaggy Boys, had been accepted as the community head. It remained for him to be crowned.
“The people around here prefer the Shaggy Boys because they are less violent and could help counter the Downtown Boys who terrorise this place a lot through rape, robbery and killings.”
The residents of this part of Bariga are living in constant fear as gang violence has become common place.
The uneasy quiet that has enveloped Bariga since Ogbere’s killing seems to portend more dire consequences, which residents said would likely manifest in reprisals.
The fear in the community also manifested in the suspicion with which the residents received inquiries from this correspondent about the family house of Ogbere. Many of them were not willing to discuss anything relating to the victim.
A resident explained that two days before Ogbere’s murder, two suspected gang members were killed by rival gang members in the area.
Such killings have become well known in Bariga and the neighbouring Shomolu where as many as four different gangs rule, fight and terrorise residents.
There are the Downtown Boys, who have now changed their names to Pharaohs; Shaggy Boys, the EiyeConfraternity and the Feeling/Stealing Boys also known as the EFCC Boys.
Ogbere, who was a cement block and kerosene dealer, was said to be a cousin of the former Baale, whom he was in court to witness against.
Ayetiwa was arrested on Wednesday and is currently being held by the state Criminal Investigation Department to answer questions on the murder of Ogbere.
“The former Baale’s mother is a blood sister to Segun Ogbere’s father. Allegation of culpability in the death of Ogbere’s father was made against Ayetiwa after he was poisoned,” a resident, who knew the family well, said.
A police source said one of the suspects and a known leader of the Downtown Boys, is suspected to have led the hit against Ogbere.
He was allegedly held on charges of multiple murders but was controversially released a few months ago, a development that threw his neighbourhood in panic because many of them had stormed the police station after his arrest to insist he had to be locked away.
According to another resident, who spoke only on condition that he would not be named, said in 2011, Ogbere was arrested after Ayetiwa reported at the police station that he had attempted to kill him.
He was said to have been released later when it turned out there was no evidence of such attempt.
“Ogbere, whom we call Shaggy came back after he was released and the former Baale instigated his boys to ensure he did not gain entry back into Ilaje,” the resident said.
When the Facebook account one of the alleged suspectswas checked, a photo of the victim in a pool of his blood was posted on his wall with the caption: “Nobody wey God no fit cash (sic). The notorious army robber in Bariga don die (sic) today for where he go rob (sic) in Abule Ijesha, Segun Ogbere aka Shaggy.”
A police source said the suspect and other members of his gang had gone underground.
“When Ogbere ran away from the court after seeing members of the rival gang, a tipper driver friend of his, who gave him a ride, said he knew the suspects in the murder.
“The tipper driver abandoned his vehicle and ran away after they ambushed him and dragged Ogbere out of the vehicle. We are picking them up one by one.”
The community development association in Ilaje has written a petition to the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko, detailing its members’ grouse against the gang wars that had subjected them to constant fear and culminating in the killing of Ogbere.
One of the names of the suspected members of the Downtown Boys, now known as Pharaohs, Waliu Skoolboi, which came up when Saturday PUNCH spoke with a number of residents, wrote on his Facebook wall: “To become King Pharaoh, you have to zero your mind. King Pharaoh says so.”
The gang is known for brutality.
Spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, Ngozi Braide, said she needed more time to find out where investigation into Ogbere’s killing stands at the moment.
Residents of adjoining communities, Abule Oja and Abule Ijesha have called on the police to help dislodge gangs that have taken over their communities. According to them, in Abule Oja, Kayode Market, Musoro and Oguntuase are the areas used as base by the gang members.
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