By Ismaeel Uthman
Residents of Ede, an ancient town in the State of Osun are currently living in palpable fear.
Some armed hoodlums have persistently been terrorising the community for the past four months, investigations have revealed.
Findings by OSUN DEFENDER revealed that peace eluded Ede when members of the ‘Raslo’ gang, a notorious group of hoodlums started to attack members of the Gani Adam faction of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC).
Members of the Raslo gang are said to belong to Eye Confraternity, with their base at Apete, Sagba area of the ancient town.
It was gathered that the leader of the group, simply known as Rasidi, alias Lucifer Oko Ilu is currently facing criminal charges at the State High Court, Ede.
Investigations showed that there had been persistent clashes between OPC and ‘Raslo’ gang members since February this year.
According to findings, about 20 members of the OPC and ‘Raslo’ gang have sustained varying degrees of injuries in the attacks which took place at Roundabout, Ogberin Junction, Atapa Junction, Orita Oloki Junction and other parts of Ede.
OSUN DEFENDER gathered that the ‘Raslo’ gang members made a retreat and went into hiding when they were being overpowered by the OPC with the help of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad officers of the police sometimes in late March.
But the gang members, according to residents of the ancient town, returned on May 13 with a surprise attack on the OPC members.
The renewed clashes between the OPC and ‘Raslo’ gang members threw the community into confusion, as residents have been forced to stay indoors at evening period.
The Apete compound and its neighbourhood has also been sacked, as residents of the area have fled because of the incessant attacks.
According to some residents of the community, the clashes have claimed no fewer than six lives, even as they could not state in categorical terms those who have been killed.
They claimed that each time the thugs killed somebody in the attacks; they always threw their dead bodies into Sagba River in Ede, after removing some organs from the bodies.
OSUN DEFENDER learnt that a member of the OPC who sustained gunshot injuries from the hoodlums had remained unconscious for about three weeks and there was no assurance that his condition would improve.
As at the time of filing this report, the injured OPC member, known as Aleeba was receiving treatment from a native doctor in Ede.
Another member of the OPC, identified as Suraju, also known as ‘Omo Aje’, was also injured and currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed location.
However, the breakdown of law and order in Ede took a new dimension on Sunday, when the Gani Adams and the Fredrick Fasheun factions of the OPC waged war against each other, leaving four of their members injured.
According to some residents of Ede, the Gani Adam faction of the OPC had attacked ‘Atapa boys’, another thugs’ gang with majority of its members belonging to the Fasheun faction of the OPC.
The attacked member of the ‘Atapa boys’ was said to have mobilised the Fasheun faction of the OPC for a reprisal attack on the Gani Adam faction.
OSUN DEFENDER learnt that but for the intervention of policemen, the attack would have resulted into loss of lives, as the two factions engaged the use of dangerous weapons: cutlasses, axes, charms, broken bottles and others.
As at the time of filing this report, the two factions are still on the trail of each other’s members, though, relative peace was gradually returning to the community.
However, the two factions were accused of being responsible for the breakdown of law and order in Ede since February.
“There are no genuine OPC members in Ede, they are all thugs. The Thugs are hiding under the guise of OPC. Real OPC members don’t go out to ask for owo omo onile (money collected by area boys from property developers). But the acclaimed OPC members in Ede are doing that”, said two prominent indigenes of Ede who craved anonymity.
The sources went further to state that both the Gani Adams and Frederick Fasheun factions of the OPC are populated by thugs, who needed the cover of the group to evade arrest by the police and the Harmonised Vigilante Group.
They noted that the ongoing violent clashes between the two groups were a pointer to the fact that their members are thugs hiding behind the identity of the OPC.
According to them, “Three groups are fomenting trouble in Ede. They are OPC of Gani Adams, OPC of Frederick Fasheun and thugs / cultists. The three groups belong to one family, which is ‘thuggery’. All of them are thugs.”
When contacted, the Chairman of the Fasheun faction of the OPC in Osun, Alhaji Adeleke Akintayo denied the report that the OPC factions were attacking each other.
According to Akintayo, both factions have been making efforts to restore sanity in the ancient town by chasing the hoodlums terrorising the community.
He said: “It is not correct that Gani Adams and Fasheun factions of the OPC are fighting each other. No, it is the thugs that are terrorising Ede and both factions have been engaging them. We have arrested some of them and they have been charged to court by the police.
“It is we the OPC members that are sanitising Ede. We are even looking for one of the gang leaders called Taye Trouble.”
Also, the Chairman of the Gani Adam faction in the state, Mr. Deji Aladewe said the two factions were not attacking each other’s members.
Other notorious gangs that have hitherto been fomenting trouble in Ede are Elemo and Farombi groups.
Elemo group was named after a notorious thug, Lukman Olalekan whose alias was Elemo.
Olalekan, who was said to be a member of OPC, was killed at 5 am on November 17, 2014 by some other hoodlums in the town over a sum of N250, 000 collected as at a construction site.
His Second-In-Command, simply known as Farombi, also a member of OPC, was said to have factionalised the group after Olalekan’s death.
In his reaction, the Commander-General of the Harmonized Vigilante Group in the State of Osun, Alhaji Ridwan Hussein, an indigene of Ede, who also resides in the community attributed the spate of increased violent activities of both the thugs and the OPC members to security sabotage of the leaders.
According to Hussein, popularly called Yah Salam, some political and community leaders in Ede armed the thugs and ‘others in OPC regalia’ with guns and were looking the other way, when they had lost control of the ‘boys’.
He claimed that the hoodlums that were terrorizing Ede were known to be OPC members, especially that of the Gani Adam faction.
Hussein called on political and community leaders to call ‘their boys’ to order, saying that Ede was known to be peaceful until nine years ago.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Osun Command, Mrs. Yemisi Opalola confirmed that members of the Gani Adams and Fasheun factions of the OPC attacked one another on Sunday.
Opalola disclosed that policemen dispersed the warring OPC members and restored peace in the community, adding that the police were doing everything possible to nip in the bud the activities of the thugs.