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Welcome to Ponraele, Lagos mainland’s criminal Haven


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Nigeria

Welcome to Ponraele, Lagos mainland’s criminal Haven

 

Ponraele is a place familiar to Indian hemp smokers, drug users, petty and big time criminals, who live within the Lagos mainland.

It connotes all things sinister, which could befall those who choose to ignore the warning signs. The notorious joint, which is in a vantage location at Abule-Oja, behind the expansive Myoung Military Barracks in Morocco, Somolu, is said to have thrived over the years because of the subtle support of military personnel from the nearby barracks.

The settlement, whose English translation means ‘Respect Yourself,’ started as a business hub for retired military men, who were reluctant to move far from the barracks.

A resident of the area, afraid of reprisals from military men, told CRIME DIGEST on the condition of anonymity that it was the retired army officers of the rank and file who initiated the drug trade at Ponraele.

“This problem started as far as the 70s,” the resident stated. “It’s only getting worse with each passing year. In 1979, when there was a massive retirement in the Nigerian Army, those accustomed to the way of life in the barracks built homes close to Myoung Barracks and settled there. These first settlers began to deal in the sale of Indian hemp and other illegal drugs.

“As was expected, some of their customers were their colleagues from the military barracks. At Ponraele, nothing is sacred.

“Criminals started coming there to pass the time and smoke weed (hemp). As the years went by, these veterans died, and their family members continued with the trade. Some actually moved out when their homes deteriorated, but that did not in anyway slow down the pace of business at Ponraele.

“In fact, it even quickened the pace of business as more criminals moved into the dilapidated structures and made it their homes.”

At Ponraele, there is only one rule: you mind your business, no matter what you see.

When CRIME DIGEST visited the community, it was seemed deserted. The seemingly empty houses, which were clearly built decades ago, were dilapidated.

The streets, narrow and winding, were bad and dirty. In some areas, bushes grew unhindered in clumps. The general feeling was eerie and uneasy as its inhabitants starred with curiosity at any new face. A resident told CRIME DIGEST that there were criminals hiding in most of the rundown buildings.

The resident said, “The boys you see smoking on the street are their agents. From 7 am till 3 pm, they are here running their drug business. The boys you see here belong to the Eiye cult; that is the cult which Femi Jpron belongs to and they are his boys. From 3 pm till 6 am, they move out to steal, kill and commit all manner of atrocities.”

Young men in their teens and 20s loitered around smoking hemp. A first time visitor might expect Ponraele to be a haven of kiosks, but residents say the selling points are virtually all the homes on Opeyemi and Odunukan streets.

A source explained, “All the houses on Slyva Street are part of the joint. Ponraele is any place in all the surrounding streets where drugs and crime thrive. Opeyemi Street, however, is a major hideout.

“From Tola Oduntan Street, through the Army Sports Camp, Bailey, Kayode Street to Opeyemi, all those areas harbour criminals. Then all the areas from Peaceland Hotel connecting the canal, leading to Opeyemi also harbour criminals too. The last house on Slyva Street and the two houses immediately after the canal on Slyva Street also have them. There is a hair dressing salon atop the drainage that doubles as a store for these boys. The fact is that no house in that area, not even the churches, are clean. They are all harbouring criminals.

“They used to have their armoury at Atan Cemetery, but they later moved it to Fadeyi. But some people believe that Femi Jpron’s mother keeps it for them. The worst part of this whole scenario is that the police are unable to do anything about it, even though they are aware this place exists. This area is under three police divisions – Sabo, Alade and CMS – but the police are scared to act because of the army boys.

“There have been occasions when the police trailed criminals to Ponraele, but could not effect arrest simply because there were army officers in their midst also smoking hemp and using drugs. When criminals and army officers mingle like that, there is the possibility of arms and ammunition finding their way into the wrong hands.

“Three years ago, some policemen from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad raided Ponraele in search of Sola Solebo, a notorious criminal. Nobody ever thought he was around there until someone saw him at the playing field near the mortuary at the army barracks. That meant Solebo could have been hibernating at the barracks.

“There have also been occasions when criminals ran to their army friends for safety when police officers from the Sabo, CMS and Alade divisions raided the area. They stopped coming to raid when they kept clashing with the retired soldiers, who protected the criminals. Some policemen still come around but only to get some money from the hemp sellers.”

CRIME DIGEST gathered that although the residents were well aware of the criminal elements in their midst, they were afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.

“Abule-Oja and Abule-Ijesha, where Ponraele is situated, are clearly under the control of Femi JPron, who has continuously eluded the police. The areas worst affected by the existence of Ponraele are people living at Somolu, Fadeyi and of course, Abule-Oja and Abule-Ijesa.

“They come to the areas to steal, rape and kill with impunity even in the daytime. We would very much like the police and Lagos State Government to come to our rescue and rid this place of its criminal elements,” a resident said.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Samuel Jinadu when contacted, denied military interference in police raids at Ponraele. He said, “The army has not prevented the police from carrying ot raids on Ponraele. As a matter of fact, any raid on Ponraele would be jointly carried out by the army and police.”

The Nigeria army Public Relations Officer Raphael Isa, told CRIME DIGEST that he needed time to verify the story. “Let me have my facts. Please call me later,” Isa said.

 

 

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Updated 6 Years ago
 

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