Masked Gangs On The Loose In Oyo, Injure Many, Sack Market

Rival gangs of thugs, including females, unleashed violence on Akesan area of Oyo town Wednesday, injuring many, destroying several vehicles and shutting down one of the city’s major markets -Akesan – for most of the day.

The attackers wore masks, with some others covering their faces with pots, to conceal their identities, witnesses say. The violence is the latest in what has become common and recurring in the town, residents say.

Residents suggested that the violence was perpetrated by rival gangs based at Ilaka and Garage areas of Akesan. The Garage boys were said to have ambushed their Ilaka counterparts previously.

Then, Wednesday, the Ilaka boys went on a revenge mission. “They were not only fighting the Garage boys, but also destroying vehicles and hitting people with machetes,” a resident, Tunji Lateef, said. “Shop owners had to close as they were on rampage attacking everybody.”

A young man named Mehmud, hit with machete, is said to be lying critically ill at Bowen University Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso, where he is undergoing treatment. Unconfirmed reports say he has lost his eyes.

Confirming the incident, the Divisional Police Office, Oyo East Local Government Area, said the police was able to restore order “not long after the violence started”.

He said the thugs used machetes and bottles but not guns. He said no arrest had been made but that detectives were on the trail of the suspected thugs.

Following the violence, sources in the town said, Akesan market traders went to the Palace of the Alaafin, seeking the monarch’s intervention.

A witness, Kehinde Ikeola, told PREMIUM TIMES, “I saw the Ilaka boys when they were emerging from their base, numbering about 120. I believe they were joined by their “comrades” from other bases in solidarity. It was like Boko Haram wanted to capture a town. In fact, police officer encountered them, they fled before they (the police) later came back after reinforcement.”

Multiple telephone calls to the Alaafin were neither answered nor returned.

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