The sweet story of Hovering Eyes Security: Former Soccer Hooligans now raising the Alarm in Nigeria Stadium
Picture these three rugged guys trying to eke out a living with their fists and weapons. They’ll do anything to anyone who refuses to submit to their bully. They stab, broke bottle on people’s head, shoot… without fear of the Police or other Security operatives around.
The guys are among the “Area boys” – some notorious gangsters that usually hover around the former National Stadium complex in Surulere Lagos Nigeria, “obtaining” people of their belongings – money, jewelry, mobile phone, handbags, shoes… They said, “We don’t fear anything” as they recounted one of their operations… “while fans were running towards the Police for protection, the Police themselves took-off to hide. Some of them quickly pull-off their uniform so they may not be spotted by our gang.” It was that bad.
Fans and even players were afraid to go to the stadium and attendance during matches began to drop drastically. The Nigeria national team players began to protest and asked NFA to take away their matches from Lagos. So the authority got worried and set up a plan to counter attack these miscreants.
In the morning of the challenge cup (FA) finals in 1995, the area boys were all in their bunks at Mushin area - getting ready to hit the stadium. Ugo Chukwuemeka, Jimoh Adewale, and Alaba Omahelen were among those inside the bunk smoking India Hemp and drinking “Shiepe” (Local gin), when the joint force of Police and Military Officers raided them and they were all dumped at the Kirikiri maximum Prison. About a thousand five hundred people were raided all together. Nobody among them knew why they were raided and nobody was allowed to visit them. People that came to visit their wards were also arrested.
For three months everyone was in the dark as to the cause of the arrest. By the forth month, many of the inmates were already sick and wounded. There were many fights between inmates and between rival gangs each day. Then, the authority decided to release and transferred some of the inmates. About a thousand people left, but Ugo, Jimoh or Alaba were not among those released. Then rumors began to go round the prison that the people not released were accused of killing one Miss Cecilia Aggrey at one of the stadium operations. The said girl is the daughter of a renowned military officer. Though, there was no official information to the story.
During the period, an ex-convict preacher will always come to the prison chapel to tell them about Jesus. Other preachers and speakers also came at one time or another to talk to them. Then, changes began to happen. Ugo was the first among the three to give his heart to Christ, then Alaba, and then Jimoh.
During the period also, a psychologist came to counsel them. He said he found out they were all interested in football that was why they always go to the stadium to wreck havoc. He told them the success stories of Taribo West, Finidi George, and George Weah… Then, they were divided into two groups.
One of the groups comprises of inmates with football talent as players. He brought them professional coaches that usually come around to train them.
Ugo, Jimoh and Alaba were in the second group. They were trained on stadium security and crowd control by different consultant that came in to train them. They learnt Marshall Arts; Kick boxing, and other combatant sports…
Ten years later after their release from prison, Ugo, Jimoh and Alaba started the Hovering eye Security Ltd that now has annual revenue of over 50million Naira. They are the best you can find in Africa when it comes to stadium security and crowd control. Global Trust bought half of the company, but Ugo and friends still own the other half. Ugo still serve as the chief executive officer (CEO), Jimoh – the chief Operations Officer (COO) and Alaba – the chief Training Officer (CTO) respectively.
How did they get there? Both Ugo and Jimoh admits that the prison rehabilitation did all the transformation in their entire being. “If you change a man’s thinking, you’ll change his state and then, his estate.” – from a street hooligan to a multi-million Naira security business.
“If you change a man’s thinking, you’ll change his state and then, his estate.”
So what happened? Jimoh recounted, I, Ugo and Alaba made up our minds not to return back to the street again. So, we began to to discuss on what next to we can do when we leave the gallow. Ugo was the one who came with the idea of a security business. He said that he has carried the vision in his heart for a long time even while we were on the street.
Then we agreed to start the business and had several meetings with the consultant, who helped us wrte a business plan and also took document to Global Trust – a venture capitalist company. Global trust decided to help us set-up and run the business for five years. We agreed to their terms that was the birth of Hovering eyes security Limited.