Three new suspects have been arrested at a suspected den of kidnappers and ritual killers in the Obadeyi-Ijaiye end of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
Two of the suspects, a woman and a man, allegedly disguised as mentally-challenged persons, but the latter was said to have later confessed to being a member of a kidnap gang.
Punch Metro learnt that three phones, an Automated Teller Machine card and two loaves of bread, were recovered in a bag found with the woman, while the man had some clothes in his bag.
It had been reported that the den, an uncompleted building, was uncovered around 8am on Tuesday after a highway sweeper with the Lagos State Waste Management Agency alerted residents to the voice of a distressed woman in a drainage channel in the area.
Punch correspondent reported that a crowd gathered around the two ends of the drains during which five persons came out through the channel.
Two of them were set ablaze by a mob, while three others were rescued by the police.
Clothes, slippers and bags believed to be effects of abductees, were found in the building.
But the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said it was too early to tag the building a kidnappers’ hideout, adding that “scientific investigations” would be carried out on the items.
Punch Metro learnt that around 10pm on Tuesday, the police succeeded in dispersing the crowd, which resumed in the early hours of Wednesday.
A resident, Bolaji Adams, told Punch correspondent at the scene that a mad woman was seen moving towards the drains at about 11am and people confronted her.
He said, “The woman should be in her 40s. She wore tattered clothes and had a bag. We saw her going towards the drainage channel. When we checked the bag, we found two loaves of bread, some pieces of fish, three phones and an ATM card.
“People did not even listen to her; they started beating her. Policemen intervened and she was rescued.”
Another eyewitness, Oluwaseun Aluko, corroborated Adams’ statement, adding that a man wearing wigs was caught about 30 minutes later.
Aluko said, “In my observation, the woman was taking the food to other members of the gang. What is a ‘mad’ woman doing with three phones? As we continued to watch, the man suddenly appeared around the drainage channel. Some people confronted him, but he was talking incoherently. We saw some clothes and used exercise books in his load. We decided to let him go.”
Aluko said as the man was going, somebody charged the crowd that he should be interrogated further on the contents of the load.
“Lo and behold, we removed the wigs he wore and saw his natural hair. As we wanted to beat him, he confessed that he was a member of the gang. He made the confession in the presence of policemen, who took him away.
“There are still many suspects lurking around the drain and we won’t leave until they are all apprehended. After all, one of the suspects arrested yesterday (Tuesday) said they were more than 20,” he added.
A trader and resident, Abiodun Moshood, said a man, who identified himself as a carrier, was nabbed around 11pm on Tuesday, adding that the man, who wore only underwear, claimed to have come from the Abule Egba area to buy food.
Punch correspondent observed as policemen and men of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps struggled to disperse the crowd.
The angry crowd hauled stones at the security agents, who responded by firing tear gas canisters at them.
The incident was followed by an orgy of arrests, while most of the persons apprehended protested that they were passersby.
“Some people are ready to go into the drains. The police did not allow them and they are afraid to go inside. They (policemen) should go and arrest the real suspects,” a resident, Stephen Cornellius, said.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said the police had already commenced investigations into the matter.