At about 5pm on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, a gang rivalry that had been simmering under the surface for a while in the Somolu, Bariga and Akoka areas of Lagos, escalated into a full blown war, with guns, machetes, axes and cudgels emerging from clustered neighborhoods and bedrooms and finding their way into bars.
As the dust settled on the mainland afterwards, two cultists had been gunned down on busy streets by rival gang members and were lying lifelessly on the streets.
A third gang leader is currently fighting for his life at the Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital.
The gang war was between members of the Aiye and Eiye confraternities, Pulse has been told.
How the war started
“I was making my way home from work when gunshots rented the air”, narrated Mr. Abimbola (not real name), who resides in Somolu. “All the guys involved are political thugs and they all clashed at a political meeting at Larex bus stop close to Palmgrove”, he added.
Pulse can report that the two rival gang leaders who were shot dead on Wednesday night were self-confessed leader of the Eiye Confraternity, Ibrahim Balogun, aka Small Jaypron and Solo of the Aiye confraternity.
"It was basically a battle for supremacy and territory and it's been on for years now", Abimbola added.
The gang leader currently battling for his life at the Igbobi hospital has been identified as Yesuru.
Yesuru was fighting from his hospital bed
One eyewitness told Pulse that during the gun duel, “Yesuru, who was battling for his life at the time after a couple of bullets found his torso, was barking orders to his boys on his way from being transferred from Somolu General Hospital. He was telling them to continue the fight on his behalf until he returns from the hospital.
“At the hospital, he didn’t want to be treated. He was fighting the doctors and paramedics even though he was bleeding profusely from gunshot wounds. He would yank off the drips and make for the locked door. This continued for a while until the sedatives kicked in to his system”.
As gunshots rang and rival cult members bayed for blood on the streets, residents scampered for safety, shops were shuttered and the ensuing panic would lead to snarling traffic and bedlam all over Lagos.
Theaters of cult rivalry
Densely populated Somolu, Bariga, Fadeyi, Mushin and Akoka have played host to some of the most deadly gang wars in mainland Lagos for a while.
In 2016, the police arrested then 29-year-old Jaypron who later confessed to killing at least five rival gang members in the neighbourhood.
At the time, Jaypron allegedly ordered his boys to set ablaze a house on Oshinfolarin Street, Bariga. At the time the house was razed by Jaypron’s boys, 65-year-old Adejoke Adefuye was sleeping soundly. She was burnt to death.
How Jaypron became a bloodthirsty cultist
Paraded in handcuffs at the Ikeja Police Command headquarters in August of 2016, Jaypron shared the story of how he took the lives of rival gang lords and why he became a bloodthirsty cultist.
“I am an Eiye cult leader. I joined the cult in 2009. The reason for my joining was to avenge the death of a close friend, Sunday Folorunsho, aka Small Biscuits", he said.
“It was the Aiye cult members who killed him. So, the Eiye faction approached me and said I should join them and they would help me fish out the people who killed my friend. I had a lot of boys working for me. I have killed three persons among whom were Femi Wiper and Lekan Akon.
“I cut them with knives. I shot some other victims. They were killed in the Somolu and Bariga areas. It was in the evening that Femi Wiper was killed. We were going out for a carnival during the Easter period on Alade Street in the Somolu area when a fight broke out. He was the one who first pointed a gun at me and my boys hacked him to death.”
Before his 2016 parade, the police had declared Jaypron a wanted man for a slew of murders and criminal activities.
“He is a known criminal in the Somolu area”, then Lagos Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said of Jaypron at the time. “He has multiple cases of murder and armed robbery which he has confessed to. Through him, we will look for other members of the gang who turned Pedro and Somolu areas into theatres of war.”
Calm returns to Somolu, Bariga
At exactly 9:54pm on Wednesday, October 17, the Lagos special crime unit, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), tweeted that calm had been restored to Somolu and Bariga.
“We are still at the scene of the rival cult clash in Somolu. The situation is calm and normal social and business activities have resumed. Many arrests have been made. Suspects are assisting the police in more arrests”, RRS tweeted.
Lagos, which is Nigeria's commercial capital, is often milling with street urchins (popularly referred to as 'area boys') who extort motorists during the day and resort to a life of crime after hours.