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Hoodlums, KAI officials in a showdown

KAI’s  Black Maria stationed for defaulters

KAI’s Black Maria stationed for defaulters

• Miscreants attack KAI officials for detaining member in Black Maria Clusters of homeless teens worry pedestrians
Mayhem was unleashed yesterday in Oshodi when some notorious thugs and bus conductors attacked officials of the Lagos State Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) for arresting some of their members and locking them up in the Black Maria stationed at the bus-stop.

According to an eyewitness, some boys were arrested for crossing the express instead of using the pedestrian bridge and they were immediately frisked into the waiting Black Maria.

He added that the officials were fond of arresting passersby, hawkers and traders, who would later be released on bail after parting with some money.One of the Area Boys, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Guardian: “I was sitting on my own when I heard noise, when I got there, I saw one of the KAI officials grabbing one of our boys by the neck.

“We didn’t like it, so we retaliated. When our boss got there, he told the KAI official to leave him but he ignored him that was why we unleashed terror on them.”

However, driven by the search for greener pastures, clusters of teens from various parts of the country have besieged Oshodi, Lagos transport hub, which has sent shivers down the spines of Lagos pedestrians and motorists.

Although many of the destitute children could be found at other parts of Lagos metropolis, majority of them however found refuge at Mosafejo- Oshodi, because of what could be termed as its strategic location as a major transport hub.

In some cases, the teens, made up of boys and girls, were either enticed by their peers or relatives to embark on the journey, only to discover that life is not what it seems to be while in their hometowns and villages. A few others are escapees from home, who have resorted to stealing to make ends meet without any place of abode.

Coming to the Centre of Excellence, many have ended up as easy preys for hoodlums and robbers, who recruit them for criminal activities, while the more industrious ones become bus conductors or motor park touts.

Ironically, the name Mosafejo, ordinarily means in Yoruba, ‘Running away from trouble’, hence the Oshodi settlement seems to provide a safe haven to these teens.

A recent visit to the renovated Heritage Park, Oshodi, revealed the dangers of allowing such army of teens, who should be in school, where they appear harmless as doves in the daytime, but become wolves at night.

During the day, they are often found unmolested sleeping at the open ground in the full glare of security operatives. Some of them smoke all kinds of things in the open, while security agents look the other way.

A one time Divisional Police officer (DPO) of Mosafejo Police Station even had course to openly vent his hopelessness over the situation. According to him, he had on several occasions spent personal money to transport some of the teens back to their respective states, when he discovered that they just jumped into a bus to Lagos without any destination, only to end up under the bridge.

One of the teens, who gave his name as Afeez, said he came to Lagos from Osogbo last year, with a friend and they ended up in Oshodi. Afeez said he survived sometimes by helping some drivers to call passengers.

But a motorist, Emmanuel Ojei, who works at Ilupeju, expressed reservations over the continued existence of hoodlums in Oshodi, who sometimes hide under the platform of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to extort money from commercial motorists and innocent Lagosians, urging the governor to ensure speedy evacuation of the teens in Oshodi.

According to him, “the plan for an interchange sounds good but there is need to tackle the problem of criminals in the place. He urged the governor to take urgent steps to address the problem.

Another Lagosian, who took to the social media to express his thought, said “these daylight robbers live and rule Oshodi without any interference from government or its agencies.

“In the 80s, it was Adebayo Ogundare, a.k.a Adebayo Success, now it is M.C. Oluomo. They are so powerful now that all the Fuji musicians and most of the Yoruba movies stars worship them and some of the female artistes even sleep with them at will. It is an eye sore to see criminals ruling our city and acting like a small god,” he added.

Some of  the teenage miscreants

Some of the teenage miscreants

Narrating his ordeal with some of the destitute teens, Mr. Emeka Okafor told The Guardian that he was once robbed of his mobile phone while waiting for a vehicle at the bus-stop. Immediately he discovered, he began calling his number but it was not picked until the following day when a man in a husky voice told him where they should meet.

“When I went to the spot, I saw a group of boys all smoking and chatting. One stepped forward to greet me and told me they decided to release my phone on bail. I was surprised at their demands of N5,000. I, however, begged them with N3,000 to collect my phone. Funnily, we became friends since then and whenever I pass through Oshodi, they are the ones who even call me to say hello.”

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