By Our Reporter
In a tone betraying helplessness about the unsavoury goings-on around Albert Sotoye Street, in Ejigbo area of Lagos, Muyiwa Oyewale vented his fear. It is a fear any parent with a girl-child growing up in a lawless neighbourhood would have.
“The area has been taken over by area boys; they smoke igbo (marijuana) and most times fight. I hardly take that route and advised my daughter not to, also”, he said.
Oyewale added that roughnecks in the area are “dangerous, especially at night, and are capable of raping innocent girls.”
The nefarious activities of the street urchins take place on a vacant land converted into a football field, christened Tarmac.
The years-long activities in Tarmac bother residents living close to the place. To an uninitiated visitor, Tarmac offers a feel of two worlds – one, illegal, the other is not.
Aside being a drug den and haven for cultists, the land equally serves as an automobile mechanic workshop and has a clutch of shops, few of them made of shipping containers. The shop owners in Tarmac told Newsbreak.Ng that most of the hoodlums always claimed to be land grabbers, popularly known as Omo-Onile and are untouchable.
They claimed the land grabbers take rentals from them for the spaces they occupy on the land.
Uzoma Kelechi said some of the hemp smokers, claiming to be home boys, “buy snacks from me without paying”. Another resident, Onifade Bilikisu, said Tarmac attracted notoriety over time.
“I have been living in this area for over 15 years and Tarmac was not like this before”, she said.
“The worse part of it is small boys who go there to smoke and Police have been coming here without putting a stop to it,” she added. Ayo, a smoker in Tarmac, implied that people arrested by the police always bribed their way out. “Police do come here to raid but before you know it the boys are back; anything is possible with money, everybody wants to survive even policemen”, he stated.
Ayo admitted the in-fighting and cultism among hoodlums in Tarmac, but quickly added he never partook in any.
Ajumobi Adeniyi said that “Aside hemp smoking, they (the hoodlums) steal motor parts”.
He added that “some of the hoodlums belong to various cult groups and often charge at residents anytime we query their activities”.
“I smoke but I don’t fight after smoking. Yes, there is always a fight here for one reason or the other. Some guys do claim to be cultist but I don’t know if they truly are or the cult groups they belong to,” he finished off with a joint tucked between his hefty, blackened lips.
Chairman of the Albert Sotoye Landlord Association, Oduniyi Gbolahun lamented their futile efforts to evict the drug sellers.
“We have tried to see if the person that sells this hard drug will leave Tarmac but it has been difficult. I have children and would not like them to be badly influenced,” he said. Asked why the police seemed to have failed in reining in the roughnecks, Gbolahan said:
“I don’t know if police are making money from this boys, because they do come here once a while and arrest people yet the drug sellers and smokers are always back here.”