How the 'one million boys' are bringing back the dark days of terror in Lagos

For the past few weeks, Lagos has been on high alert following reports of unrest and attacks in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown. The chaos was compounded after many residents reported mainly on social media about being attacked and robbed by a gang who refer to themselves as 'One Million Boys'.

The notorious gang which moves in large numbers during operations has reportedly been responsible for the wave of violence and armed robbery incidents in some parts of the city.

According to various sources, the gang which has been operating quietly in Ajegunle began unleashing mayhem on defenseless members of the public during the lockdown. Although originally formed by a group of 20 boys to fight against perceived injustice in the city, the group was later hijacked by some members who turned it into a criminal enterprise. They have been under the radar since about 130 of them were arrested in October 2012.

But as movement and socio-economic activities were restricted in Lagos, the One Million Boys resurfaced with more brutality and boldness. One notice attributed to the gang indicates that they inform residents about their coming in advance and threaten to mutilate those who fail to keep something for them.

"We the undefeated One Million Boys will visit your area soon. Keep money for us and if you fail to do so, we will cut off your hands during the operations," the gang stated in one of their letters captioned 'Alert! Alert!! Alert!!!', which was making rounds on social media.

The attacks have become so imminent that some residents are now organizing vigilante groups to protect their neighbourhoods.

But speaking with Neusroom on Wednesday, the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu dismissed the reports of unrest in the state and attacks by One Million Boys.

"There is no social unrest in Lagos, all those videos are old videos being recycled by people for reasons best known to them," he said. Odumosu also added that the One Million Boys gang was nothing more than the brainchild of mischief-makers who are bent on "circulating unnecessary fear and apprehension".

Not too long ago in 2017, a ritual cult group known as Badoo threw the Ikorodu area of Lagos into panic with their gruesome, ritual killings, armed robbery, and diabolism. The gang had a weird practice of leaving no survivors, which elicited the killing of an entire household that they visit. Their reign of terror was finally put to an end after an aggressive manhunt led to the death and arrest of many members of the gang.

But CP Odumosu advises Lagosians to be at ease as there is no such thing as One Million Boys, but the thought of becoming victims has kept many residents aloof.

The Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said in an address on Monday that all security challenges that the state is currently undergoing will be tackled head-on, even as the lockdown continues.

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