Residents of Ijaiye, Ahmadiyya and Abule-Egba areas of Lagos State are yet to overcome the shock of a ritualists’ den, popularly called Ajale, discovered right under their noses, in the early hours of yesterday.
They are at pains to fathom how terrible acts of such magnitude were being perpetrated at Obadeyi Ajala street, Ijaiye, in the densely populated area, under the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, though the discovery has provided answers to the puzzle of missing persons around the area.
The den, located beside the main road at the popular Obadeyi bus-stop, Ijaiye, was exposed by a female sweeper who heard the horrific cry of a victim screaming for help. The cry for help came from an underground tunnel, which linked to a canal at Obadeyi street.
Unfortunately, before passersby entered the canal, the woman who cried for help had been killed, but her little baby was found. Under the tunnel, soldiers were said to have found different body parts and many routes linking to the canal.
In the course of their hunt, a man belonging to the group was also arrested who later confessed to being part of a 28-member group operating under the canal.
Items recovered from the shrine included charms, carvings, white clothes stained with blood as well as native soap.
According to an eyewitness account, the suspected ritual killers allegedly target pedestrians crossing or plying the road early in the morning and late at night, as the den is just about 50 metres away from the pedestrian bridge.
They then drag their victims into the manhole, which stretches along the expressway, where they are eventually killed. The Guardian learnt from eyewitnesses that dismembered bodies were evacuated from the scene.
The discovery led to pandemonium yesterday, as irate residents stormed the scene to rescue the victims and apprehend the ritualists. Though people were scared to go inside the hole for fear of what lies inside it, efforts by those who went inside, The Guardian learnt paid-off, as two suspects were brought out but were whisked away by the police.
Angered by the move, two more suspects were brought out but the mob overpowered the police and burnt them alive.
According to a source, the crowd allegedly set ablaze one of the suspects but surprisingly to them, fire was burning all over his clothes but he appeared unhurt.
The source said: “The ritualist said that no one can do him any harm. Even some people tried cutting him with machetes and all sorts of weapons but he still wasn’t hurt.”
This created traffic gridlock at the axis all through the day as the mob stayed in anticipation of getting more suspects. The Guardian could not confirm the number of arrests made as of the time of filing this report.
Another source, Taiwo Ganiyu, a food vendor in the area, said that the police team was able to find their way to the scene around 8a.m. Although Taiwo claimed that two suspects were allegedly arrested but the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Olarinde Famous-Cole, who confirmed the incident, said only one person was arrested.
He said: “We are still investigating the matter. It is too early to say if it is an actual case of ritual killing. We shall make our findings known to the public at the end of the investigation.”
Meanwhile, a policeman who claimed to have participated in the operation, said two persons were rescued, adding that those rescued were taken away by the officers who were determined to get to the root of the discovery.
“The police were able to uncover the hiding place where the suspects carried out their evil acts with the aid of OP MESA soldiers who invaded the secluded territory. By 10a.m. the crowd had already tripled. Onlookers from Agege, Sango, Ifo had arrived Obadeyi area in Ojokoro to witness the incident.
“It took several hours to dig into the den where the suspects had hidden their victims; about two persons were rescued and taken to the hospital, as they appeared unconscious. Since security agents were already on the ground, angry mob were prevented from carrying out a mob attack on the suspect, who refused to confess to the crime.”