As the Nigerian-government tries to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 with a federal government lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja and state governors in many other parts of the country also restricting movement, a wave of crime driven by teenagers and youths in their early twenties is devastating communities in Ogun State with Ado-Odo/Ota and Ifo Local governments badly affected for over a week. Adjoining communities within Lagos State especially those in Alimosho, Ifako-Ijaiye and Agege axis have been largely affected too.
Many people in these communities have had to form vigilante groups to confront these gangs of robbers while the police have increased patrols and made arrests. However, the problem has only subsided and not been solved. A Twitter user, @Adetokey, has taken out time to trace the genesis of the street gangs, their modus operandi and how they can be curtailed.
Read his submission next:
It started with Awawa boys in Agege then. If you were having a party, these boys will come in large numbers and just start dancing (all the djs know their preferred tune). If you don’t settle them with food and cash, you and your guests are at risk of suffering bodily harm. 1/2
My 1st experience with them was at a naming ceremony. They came and started to harass the guests. My host who didn’t have a clue about them wanted to call the police. We adviced him against it because of the damage they would do before and after police arrival.
They made their demands (food, drinks and money), which was given to them, but did they leave? No they hijacked the party and didn’t leave until 11pm. These boys (they had a few girls) were within the 15-19 age bracket with cult signs and marks on their skins to show allegiance.
Rumor has it that the girls are used to target men. They sit on your car and tell you they like you. You dare not harm or refuse their advances. The large number will swarm you and take all they can take from you… And that’s not all. You are now their meal ticket for life.
Especially a bitch for life.
The one million boys grew as a rival gang to Awawa boys based on ethnic lines. You see the Awawa were mostly a mix of miscreant northern boys from moricas area and the Yoruba who housed them. The one million boys felt the Awawa had overshadowed them on their turf. It is far more organised and have faction leaders who report to their head. Some of these boys will be the faces you will see in Amotekun (my major grouse against the program). Their numbers grew because it was easy to join and their mandate was straight forward:
- You can’t be defeated with large numbers.
- Cause enough disruption so no one is identified
- Strike fear into your victims so they remember the name
Some of them are military, paramilitary kids with a sense of how militia should work and function. So they are well oiled.
Initiation and identification differ across board and sex- for the boys, they are beaten, marked (bleached lips and scar at the base of the neck) and given an assignment to prove their loyalty. The assignment is to be carried out by the initiate but largely supported by his crew.
For the girls- I’ve heard rumors of gang rapes, markings and assignments too. They are given a mark. Usually a single guy or married men who live alone. They attack you, take all your valuables and rape you mercilessly without any form of protection exposing the person to STIs and STDs. It doesn’t end there! They take pictures for blackmail effectively making you a bitch for life. Reported cases of these incidents are few because no guy wants to go and report that he was assaulted by a bunch of underage girls.
They are not a recent threat to civility
They were just largely ignored till now that they have grown from lizards to dragons. I fear the police is not strong enough to handle them due to their numbers and information leaks.
But it is possible if the government is willing. I have a few suggestions:
- Station police squad cars in strategic locations to disrupt gatherings of large boys
- Ban the sale of agbo and kparaga in the states. Those women are informants and charm sellers extraordinaires
- Disrupt their activities by placing a ban on street jamz, parties extending to streets etc
- Once arrested and found guilty, force them into conscripted labour on farms in other state effectively cutting off communication from others.
- Rehabilitation programs
We hope the security agents will work on these insights and solve this criminality that is threatening to plunge Lagos and Ogun states into anarchy.