A 13-year-old boy has told the police in Lagos that he joined armed robbery in order to survive. The boy, name withheld, said although his parents were still alive, they were not interested in his welfare. He explained that he and about 40 other boys of his age used to sleep in various shops at Idumota Market at night.
The teenager was arrested by traders at Idumota Market, Lagos Island while attempting to steal customers’ money and handsets. The boy would have been lynched but for the quick intervention of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials. Some traders described the suspect as terror of the night.
They added that he was the leader of a gang of young robbers. The teenager said he was forced to embrace stealing and armed robbery. He said: “I was born in this market. My parents also sell in this market. But they don’t cater for me. I do everything in order to feed myself.
About 40 children sleep with me in shops at night. We wake early to leave the shops before people start coming for business. “Last year, while I was playing football with other children, some guys from Jankara area called me and gave me a gun. They said I should keep the gun for them.
They also called one of my friends, Daniel, and gave him guns to keep. We hid the guns in our clothes. There was a day that they took us to Agege to rob. Daniel and I kept the guns they used for the robbery operation that day.” The boy said the men had taken him and Daniel to several places for robbery, but always wouldn’t give them anything after the operation.
And if the boys dare to demand a share of the loot, the men would threaten to kill them. He added: “I don’t rob people with gun. I only carry it and hid it for them. I’m living here in the market with other children whose parents have abandoned. Most times, we sleep inside toilets.”