The police have said that a woman, Justina Emmanuel, who accused her husband, Joseph Agugom, and his brother Paul, of kidnapping her and her daughter, Munachisom, for ritual purposes in the Lawanson area of Surulere, Lagos State, is suffering from mental illness.
The brothers, the police said, were conveying her to hospital with her hands tied to her back when Justina raised the alarm that she was being kidnapped.
Passers-by, who responded to the woman’s cry, were seen in a video footage, which trended on the Internet over the weekend, beating up Joseph and Paul and almost lynching them.
In the footage, Justina, whose hands were tied behind her back, accused her husband of engaging in money rituals, adding that he had already used two of their children for the purpose.
“He is my husband, but I don’t know that he has been engaging in money rituals. I gave birth to three children; he had taken two of our children,” she said.
However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, in a statement on Sunday, said investigation revealed that Justina was suffering from mental illness, adding that she was being taken to hospital when she raised the alarm that prompted passers-by to force the car to a halt and started assaulting the brothers.
While condemning members of the public for taking the laws into their hands by subjecting the brothers to jungle justice, Elkana said the command had launched a manhunt for those who assaulted the brothers.
The PPRO said, “On Thursday June 6, 2019, around 12.45pm, the command’s control room received a distress call that a mob action was going on at the Lawanson junction, Itire. An anti-crime patrol team led by the Divisional Police Officer, Itire, CSP Odey Ogah, was promptly deployed in the scene.
“One Justina Emmanuel of No. 10 Bishop Okogie Street, Ago, and her one-and-half-year-old daughter, Munachisom Agugom, were rescued. Two suspects, Joseph Agugom and Paul Agugom, were rescued from the mob. They were alleged to have kidnapped the victims for ritual purposes.
“One Honda CRV car with number plate Lagos FST 587 BU, one LG Phone, one iPhone, one bag containing two flasks, three pieces of rope, one black paramilitary belt and one green beret were recovered.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the victim is married to one of the suspects, Joseph Agugom, and the child belongs to both of them. It was also revealed that the victim was suffering from mental illness and she was being conveyed to hospital when she raised the alarm and some members of the public stopped the car and descended on the suspects.
“Members of both the suspects and victim’s families came to the station and made statements to the effect that the victim was suffering from mental illness and was actually being conveyed to hospital. The other two children the victim had with her husband were brought to the station contrary to the allegation of the victim that they were killed by the husband for money rituals.
“The victim was taken to hospital by the police for medical examination. The police have launched a manhunt for those who participated in the mob action with a view to bringing them to justice.”
In another development, the command said 16 suspected cultists were arrested by its personnel during a clash in the Ikorodu area of the state.
The suspects include Adewale Afisi, Adewale Rufai, Seun Balogun, Sunday Vincent, Ige Olalekan, Kolawole Gbenga, and Olarewaju Ibrahim.
Others are Obi Joshua, Adetunji Ojo, Idowu Olarewaju, Pelumi Dada, Tijani Alabi, Taiwo Adejowo, Yinka Adebayo, Ekele Merit and Muyideen Saliu.
In a related development, men of the command also arrested five suspected traffic robbers for unlawfully dispossessing residents of their valuables in the Shomolu and Ikorodu areas of the state.
The suspects were identified as Ayomide Olamipo, 21; Ogundiran Timileyin, 22; Blessing Ndubusi, 16; Tobi Onileowo, 26; and Olakunle Ayo, 25.
The PPRO said all the suspects would be charged to court after the completion of investigations.