By: Precious Igbonwelundu, January 07, 2016
Four teenagers paraded by the Lagos Police command for armed robbery on Wednesday have said they were forced into the act.
Samuel Madeko, 19, Bright Oriaku, 19, Ibrahim Oguntoyinbo, 18 and Babajide Akiola, 16, were arrested on December 28, at the Satellite area of the state for armed robbery and cultism.
They were said to have dispossessed a road user of his mobile phone, laptop and money during the holiday, as well as robbed one Christ Apostolic Church.
The teenagers were arrested after residents identified some of the culprits, as their gang members.
According to the suspects, they were forcibly initiated into the Black Axe confraternity by one Bolaji and another Awala last year.
The suspects, who claimed they were labourers at a construction site, disclosed that the said Bolaji and Awala usually forced them into armed robbery.
According to them, their leaders connected them with a certain Pastor Chris who needed bands and furniture to state his own ministry.
Oriaku told The Nation that they were given the telephone number of the said Pastor Chris, adding that he was aware they were going to steal the furniture and musical instruments.
He said: “We have gone for several robberies. We usually snatch people’s belongings around 4am on the road. But we did those things out of fear because they were always forcing us.
“But the truth is that we were not among the group that robbed that day. We refused to follow Bolaji and Awala because we had early morning job at the site.
“What actually happened was that, our leaders usually come to the site were we work and so, people around used to see them. So, that day that we did not follow them, we heard they robbed a man near the site and collected some things from him.
“People who saw them and knew they usually come to our site, now pointed at us that we were the ones.
“We have gone for many operations. We have robbed a church. And the leaders are the ones who usually sent us. The day we went to the church, there was no door and so, we carried the things and took it to them.
“It was one Pastor Chris who said he wanted to start a ministry and that was how we were sent to steal the things. I am not happy about the life I have lived, I was afraid to report to anyone because they threatened to kill me,” he said.
16-year-old Akiola who claimed he was an orphan disclosed that so many children, including 10-year-olds were members of the gang.
He claimed as a new initiate, he usually played the role of a spy for the group whenever they were going for an operation or a battle.
Although said he has never killed anyone, Akiola admitted that he had followed the group to a battle against the Eiye confraternity were two persons were shot by Bolaji.
“I have told the police everything I know. I did not join this group with clear eyes. I never wanted to join them but everything they will be beating me.
“They will seize my clothes, my shoes, money and anything I have on me. Samuel usually harassed me anytime he saw me on the road because I refused to join them.
“It is a normal thing in that area. Even small children of 10 years are Adaba (Senior ranks). I usually seat on the floor whenever they are around.
“I am the most junior in rank, am a Tendi. After Tendi, you have Fly, where Samuel, Bright and Ibrahim belong and after them you have Adaba.”
Asked how he was initiated, Akiola said they blindfolded him, slapped him severally and poured dry gin into his eyes.
“I paid for the initiation. They covered my face; took me to one corner; gave me double slaps like 30 times; trampled on me while I was on the ground and then they poured whiskey in my eyes.
“For several days I did not get myself. After all the beating and torture they gave me, they now said I should pay N17,000 to Fly or that I should kill somebody.
“I refused to kill anyone and I told them I do not have the money yet. They told me that the Fly initiation is worse than the Tendi and that I was be taken to a native doctor and that I will die if am not strong enough.
“They also said they will mix rice and garri and give me to eat. So,after they told me the whole thing, I just made up my mind that I won’t do it.
“I am not happy that my evil deeds have led me into police custody. I pray that they forgive me so that I will just go to the village and live with my grandmother.
“My father died last year and I only met my mother last year too but she does not want me. She prefers her children from her current marriage.
“It was after I went to her and she rejected me that I returned to Lagos and joined the cult so that the bad boys will leave me in peace,” he said.
According to Madeko who said he was an indegene of Cross River State, he was initiated in April last year and has followed the group for several robbery operations as well as clashes with rival cults.
He disclosed that before joining the group, the older boys in the neighbourhood would beat him up, seize his clothes, shoes and even money.