Courageous officer: How Alausa DPO, CSP Abaniwonda makes herself bait to rid Otedola Bridge of criminal gang

Incase you think all that senior officers of the Nigeria Police do in their office is just to lounge in there and dish out instructions for their juniors to execute, then you may be wrong. This story is about to redefine your perspective about that notion, National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP) can report.

The police officers get briefs, they strategize operations, as well as plan tactical moves which enable them to knock out criminals thereby ridding our society of crime.

Background story 

Upon her redeployment by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, CP Adegoke Fayoade and assumption of office as the new Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Alausa division, Ikeja less than three (3) months ago, CSP Tokunbo Abaniwonda engaged her officers in a discussion on real and perceived trouble spots within the division which is home to the Governor’s office, the State House of Assembly, the Secretariat, the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) office, Ikeja City Mall, among other government and private facilities. She obtained a comprehensive report of the Alausa police division. Thus, she was able to identify the criminal hotbed within the axis. The Otedola bridge came out as perhaps the biggest of them all!

For many Lagosians and travellers, the mention of Otedola bridge is a reminder of a negative history including road crashes, fires accident, traffic robbery, kidnapping, and other crimes. Some have even decided to abandon the bridge as a preferred travel route. Whether day or night, Otedola bridge is blacklisted by them, NAOSNP can report.

Tokunbo Abaniwonda’s courage, bravery

She simulated a well-calculated crime scene so as to bait the criminals out of their den. Usually, when criminals commit crimes on Otedola bridge, they either jump into the canal under the bridge or run into an abandoned building directly opposite it which is overgrown with weeds.

Armed with this intelligence, on 9th April 2024, CSP Tokunbo Abaniwonda, DPO Alausa Division entered Otedola Bridge like the proverbial ‘dog which entered the den of lions that must be congratulated if it comes out alive’. She took her journey right into the action scene. Though she got injured in the process, she achieved her goal in a ‘no nonsense, the work must be done’ style.

She made herself the bait to be preyed upon by the criminals. In this special arrangement orchestrated by herself, She arranged for a commercial bus packed full with female officers passengers including herself; all in mufti dresses, drove to Otedola bridge, feigned damage to the bus and while seemingly trying to solve the matter swiped out her phone as if calling for help.

In less than 5 minutes, true to the master plan, three boys came out of their hiding and attacked her with the singular aim of stealing the phone.

Meanwhile, she had ordered a patrol van of police officers to stay at a distance and swoop in action once they see her laying down on the ground to grab the leg of any of the boys. Inadvertently, those police officers delayed which encouraged the 3 boys to rush her and was macheted while on the ground in the ensuing conflict. They made away with her phone through the canal under the Otedola bridge.

Despite the injury to her neck and blood dripping, she led her team to continue chasing the criminals through the canal. They went straight to Fela Shrine where they had gotten previous information that the criminals may have mixed with party goers in the entertainment centre. Their pursuit paid off as they got important leads and therefore traced the boys to Akute in Ogun state where they are housed in a hotel rather than in a rented house.

How suspects lure victims 

One of the leads gotten at Fela Shrine is ex-girlfriend to the leader of the criminal gang. After much interrogation, she reliably confessed to CSP Abaniwonda that her boyfriend often goes on Facebook to flaunt his ‘ill-gotten wealth’ when he makes a ‘successful adventure’ at Otedola bridge. With a search on Facebook, the DPO identified the boy who hijacked the phone at the crime scene.

Meanwhile, the new girlfriend arrested alongside the leader of the boys in his hotel hideout pleaded for mercy. The 22-year old girlfriend was full of pleas to the Nigeria Police, ‘I want to go back to my family. Street life does not pay. I will advise other girls to go back to their families instead of living the street life.’

For three days unabated without going home and tracking her phone, the resilient operations officer, CSP Abaniwonda resolutely went after the criminals. As soon as they scoured a few hotels where the criminals usually stay, the police team finally found them in a hotel room that was vividly identified in some of the Facebook videos shared by the gang leader, Nonso aka. Thuglife.

One of the criminals, Richard Etim, told NAOSNP, ‘I am homeless. I stay in a hotel in Akute. We don’t have gun, we only use machetes but we don’t use them to kill. We only use them to injure.’

’I just joined this gang a month ago. I used to work as a dispatch rider owned by a single lady who got married and traveled abroad with her Lebanese husband. That was how I lost my job.’

‘’My expectant wife stays in Ijebu Ode. The little money I have been getting ranges between N15,000 and N40,000. I got one phone which I sold to rent the house in Ijebu Ode where my wife stays.’

Interestingly, a Pastor had warned him recently in a vigil that he attended with his wife that he should desist from crime for the sake of his pregnant wife or else he would be caught. The wife also begged him to stop crime for the sake of the unborn baby and that God would provide the resources they need to survive.

Richard Etim did not heed warnings and pleading. Now he has landed himself in police net.

The second member of the gang, Chidera Christopher, 25 who hails from Nsukka, Enugu State revealed to NAOSNP. ‘’I used to learn POP from some Cotonou boys but when they traveled home, I didn’t have anything else to do. Places that I go to seek jobs, they ask for guarantors and I don’t have any. I have only one sister who is still in the village after our parents died.’

The 25-year-old added: ‘On the day that the DPO was attacked, I was the one who picked the Samsung phone and ran with it and Thuglife collected it later. “When he saw that it was a police phone, he was afraid but when he finally sold the phone, he gave me N5,000. I am praying for God’s mercy, I know what I did was wrong

The gang leader, Tochuckwu Nonso a.k.a. ‘Thug life’, 29, who destroys people’s lives and goes on Facebook to flaunt it was also interviewed by NAOSNP. ‘’I sing so my stage name is Thuglife. I don’t have a car or house. I have my wife and children in Ikorodu. I usually lie to my wife that I just hustle for my daily living. There are many gangs that come to Otedola bridge, some use bikes. Eze, yellow Warri, Cameroon are the ones who introduced me into this.’

‘’I don’t kill, I have never killed. What we do is attack people who are walking late at night around the bridge or sometimes when vehicles park accidentally. Some nights we get up to four phones and cash.’

Pains for our society

Lagos receives a whopping 88 new travelers every minute. Many of those people don’t return to where they are coming from. Some of them take to thievery, kidnapping, pickpocketing, et al. Some of them become societal nuisance begging for money, prostitution, drug addiction, and so on.

At the end of the day, they lay their heads under bridges, on make shifts, kerbs, bikes, inside commercial buses, on top of damaged vehicles, uncompleted buildings, construction sites,  shops, and all manner of places. They take their bath in the open, and defecate openly – if you go on our major roads especially the Lagos-Ibadan expressway which the Otedola bridge feeds, you will see all manner of rubbish. This is nothing good for Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre and a city aiming to be a global economic hub.

Why is it difficult for persons who embark on rural-urban migration to return to their hometowns instead of committing crimes or constituting nuisance? The African community system, though depleting, still works for us as Africans, these youths can find something worthwhile to do in their respective hometowns and still enjoy family support. They can trade, they can farm, they can learn a skill, everything that is possible in Lagos is possible elsewhere.

Nigeria needs to rethink society. Our youths need to be properly re-oriented. They need to be told that they can succeed in Lagos. They can succeed in their hometown. They don’t have to travel up and down to ‘hammer’ as they say. They don’t have to live fake life on social media to impress their friends. It is the job of everyone – parents, teachers, religious leaders, traditional rulers, media practitioners, police and other security agencies. These are learning points from this criminal gang of 3 with respect to CSP Tokunbo Abaniwonda’s exploits at Alausa Division, Lagos State Command under the leadership of CP Adegoke Fayoade.

Exploits worth commendations

The courageous story of the DPO of Alausa Division, CSP Tokunbo Abaniwonda who came into the office less than three months ago is a story to be celebrated by the Police echelon and the general public. She didn’t sit back to watch the forays of criminals in Otedola bridge continue unabated. Now, she has instilled fear in nefarious elements around that axis. She has also vowed to station police vans permanently at the location. So, criminals and their accomplices should stay clear of Otedola bridge forthwith!

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