A 44-year-old mother of six, Mrs. Mercy Adekunle, has narrated how eight suspected hoodlums in their community at the Mushin area of Lagos State, attacked her and her children with bottles. Mercy, a divorcee, alleged that the attack was orchestrated by her next door neighbour, Abdulahi, whom she was not on good terms with. The woman who lives in a one-room apartment with her six children, explained that Abdulahi and his wife, Rakiyat, orchestrated the attack on her and her children because she was taking too much space in the corridor of their building.
The distraught woman, who cried as she narrated her ordeal, explained that it all started after Abdulahi and Rakiyat, living upstairs with them, started picking on her and her children. Abdulahi, however, stated that Mercy was a troublesome and stubborn woman, who seemed to derive immense pleasure from quarreling and fighting. According to him, it was because of her troublesome nature that made her husband run away from home, abandoning her with six children. Mercy said that she had tried several ways to make peace with Abdulahi and Rakiyat, but all her efforts failed. She said: “I decided to do my laundry upstairs with my daughters, because of the stress of going down and then climbing up again. But whenever I see my neighbours coming, I will move away from the walk-way to allow them access to their apartment.
The truth is that the corridor is narrow, and sometimes, I apologise for appearing to block the way. But my daughter, Blessing, who is deaf, has been attacked by the couple several times. Whenever she’s washing, they would hurl insults at her because they know she cannot speak. One fateful day, their son, Roqib, poured waste water on Blessing, where she was working. He didn’t apologise. When Blessing reported to me, I went to meet him, to find out what transpired, but rather than explain to me, he hissed and walked away. I went to report him to his mom, but she only told her son not to mind me.”
Mercy said there was a repeat of the incident, leading to Roqib and Blessing engaging in physical combat. Mercy said that when she heard Blessing, 22, crying, she rushed downstairs. She tried to stop the fighting, but Rakiyat grabbed her dress, tore it and then they started fighting, alleged Mercy. Mercy further narrated: “She tore my clothes, but we were later separated by passersby. We went our separate ways. After the matter had been settled, Abdulahi rushed upstairs to my apartment and started beating me in the presence of my children.” She went to Olosan Police Station to report assault by Abdulahi. Sadly, she and Abdulahi were detained. She said that her children later came with N6000 to bail her.
Mercy further recalled: “On July 23, 2021, I was sleeping when eight men came into my apartment, shouting that they had been given Indian hemp money to deal with me and my children. Two days after the hoodlums came to my apartment, Abdulahi also came to my apartment. He banged on my door, shouting that I had damaged his wife’s food cooler, but it was not true.
I’m guessing his plan was to allege me of a crime. Blessing and I were later invited by the policemen at Olosan Police Station. When we got there, we were detained without the police asking me what transpired or if I had seen the food cooler.”
Mercy explained that while she was in the cell, she prayed that God should send a helper to bail her and Blessing. The following day, God answered her prayer. She recollected: “The following day, which was July 24, I was praying in the cell when a policeman called me out. He said that someone had paid for my bail. Sincerely, I still don’t know who the Good Samaritan was. Since then, the hoodlums had been after my children and I. They monitored our movements, and anywhere they saw us, they harassed and threatened us with death. On August 5, when I sent my last child on an errand, the hoodlums accosted and beat her silly.
They later came to meet me at home; they banged repeatedly on my door from 12noon till 5: pm. They were shouting that my children and I should come out, that we wouldn’t be able to escape their wrath. After the banging stopped, I thought they had left, so I told my children that we should head out for our church vigil.” Mercy said that immediately she and her children got downstairs, the hoodlums appeared.
She said: “I didn’t know they had positioned themselves in different corners downstairs. Immediately they saw us, one of them grabbed Destiny’s shirt and snatched the bag that was with him. Before I knew what was happening, they had stabbed Destiny on the head. They collected his money and other things with him.
They also stabbed me on the face with a bottle. My little daughter, who was crying and begging them to leave us, was also stabbed on her head. It was like a nightmare. We couldn’t proceed to the vigil. We went to Olosan Police Station to lodge a complaint, but instead of the police taking action, they looked away.” Mercy stated that before the Good Samaritan came to bail her and Blessing, the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), one Inspector Andrew, had allegedly asked them to pay Abdulahi N45, 000, which was the worth of the food cooler. She said that since the hoodlums attacked, she and her children had been traumatised and feeling unsafe in the community.
The woman added: “ What I’m seeking for now is justice. The truth is that if my husband had been living with us, I don’t think Abdulahi and his wife would have dared to do what they had been doing to us. We have suffered a lot for no reason.
The government should come to our rescue before they snuff out our lives.” Destiny, 15, said that he felt Abdulahi just wanted to punish his mom and siblings because of the constant disagreement between them in the building. Destiny said: “Anytime we walk on the street, the hoodlums always threaten to deal with us. They said we should leave the community for them. On that fateful August 5, while we were about to go to the vigil, two of the hoodlums pounced on me.
I didn’t even know how it happened; I only saw blood gushing out from my head. While my mother was trying to rescue me, another hoodlum broke a bottle and stabbed her on the face. We went to Olosan Police Station, where we were given a police report to go to the hospital. We received treatment and it was my mom that paid for the medical bill. I don’t know why Mr. Abdulahi’s family is after mine. But I want justice, because mom, I and my siblings have suffered a lot.” But reacting to the allegations levelled against him, Abdulahi said Mercy and her children were liars.
He explained: “We have been to Olosan Police Station and court over the matter. There was no time I ever sent hoodlums to attack her and her children. What happened between my family and hers was that, one fateful day, she was fighting with another neighbour, when the shouting and screaming was too much, my wife persuaded me to go and make peace between them. After I made peace between them, Mercy and her children stopped greeting us.
I reported her to the police because when she was fighting with another neighbour, she used my wife’s food cooler to hurl at the woman. I went to report her at the station. When we got there, she didn’t show any remorse, and she was detained for nine days over the matter. I also didn’t give anyone money to buy Indian hemp in order to smoke and beat her or her children. What I can’t take, I don’t give it to people to eat. She pushed me to the wall, which was why I reacted.” Abdulahi further said: “It was her daughter who went to fight with another person in the community that led to them being attacked by hoodlums.
Even the person she fought with came to the station to testify against them. Mercy’s husband was with her before, but it was because of her constant fighting that made the man run away. Even after he had relocated from the community, he used to call, asking me to forgive his wife for the sake of peace. The husband is a nice man, but the woman is a stubborn person.”