No fewer than 50 persons, including truck drivers, were seriously injured while many shops and trucks were looted and torched when heavily armed thugs invaded Vinager and Abule-Ado areas in Satellite town, Lagos on Wednesday.
The incident, which paralysed business activities’ in the heavily populated area, led to the temporary closure of banks and other business interests, while residents scampered to adjoining Festac town and Mile 2 areas for safety.
It was gathered that trouble started in the wee hours of Tuesday when the armed thugs said to have been recruited from Benin Republic by a suspected terrorist gang with base at Oguntade village in Old Ojo road, Satellite Town, invaded shops and residential areas demanding money forcefully from people.
Eyewitness narrated that the thugs, who were heavily armed with sophisticated weapons, were shooting sporadically to scare their targets, mostly truck drivers.
It was gathered that they succeeded in breaking into homes and carting away valuables, after which they subjected their victims to thorough beating.
Unconfirmed reports said some people that tried to resist their onslaught were shot, while others were seriously wounded.
The thugs, who were said to be masked, were also making burn fires with used tyres, while at the same time attacking truck drivers who refused to be extorted and damaging their vehicles.
One of their victims, Ibrahim Muhammed, told newsmen that they attacked them where they parked their trucks midnight on Tuesday and started demanding for money.
According to Muhammed, they are members of a notorious gang that have been unleashing mayhem in Vianger, Abule-Ado and Mile 2 areas for a long time.
He said: “They clashed with truck drivers who were carrying out their legitimate businesses in Vinager last week and wounded many of us.
“Some of our members were also killed during the clash when we resisted their attempt to forcefully extort money from us.
“They have been doing this for long and all efforts to make the police help us have failed.
“Their major target are members of the National Union of Petroleum and natural Gas Workers and they have made life very difficult for us all.
“We have lost millions of naira and many trucks each time they struck.
“They are laws unto themselves and they boast openly that nobody, including police and army, can stop them from extorting, looting, maiming and killing people in the area.
“They attack with all kinds of dangerous weapons, including stones, which they carry in wheel barrows, and bottles.”
When a reported of The Guardian visited the area around 3:30pm on Wednesday, the area was deserted, while shops and business outlets remained closed.
Many truck drivers abandoned their vehicles and took to their heels, while major roads were blocked with burn fires still on.
Skeletal police presence was noticed from a distance, while efforts to speak with few people seen hiding in make-shift shops failed.
It was however gathered that a team of policemen from Satellite Division earlier came to the scene when the thugs were carrying out the operation, but later left.
Sources said that they were forced to leave the scene after noticing the superior fire power of the thugs.