The monkeys are quick, they are also very hungry. They stop at nothing to gain access into homes. But where do they come from, and how is this possible? Residents give their accounts.
“A tenant hasn’t been able to sleep in her house for fear of monkeys. Anytime she doesn’t close her windows before going out of the house, they enter by using their sharp nails to cut the net, eat what is available, throw leftovers on the bed, play with the children’s toys, mess up the house, then leave. For safety reasons, she could not stay.”
That was the account of a former Chairman of the Sosanya Street Landlords Association, Alhaji Adigun Olaleye, who has lived on Sosanya Street since 1980.
The residents of Soluyi, Sosanya, Solaru, and Dapo said they have been tolerating the animals for over 14 years.
Our reporter observed a thick bush at Estaport Avenue, off Soluyi Street, where the monkeys, according to residents, live. From there, they are said to move in multitudes to different parts of the area seeking for food and relaxation spots.
“Before now, they didn’t enter houses,” Olaleye said. “Rather, they feasted on fruits available on trees. Whenever a tree produced enough fruits, they would move in large numbers to devour them and move on. We had to cut the trees.”
A member of the Olaleye family recounted her experience: “I sell eggs in crates and the delivery person drops them three houses away. Now, once I start taking the crates, one after the other, the monkeys follow me to know where I drop them. Whenever I decide to go check the eggs, I observe some are missing. I have caught the monkeys in the act. One of them can decide to take three eggs in one hand and two eggs in the other. Walking on two feet, they move away to distribute the eggs to others.
“After some time, I started putting my eggs in the living room, where I can always monitor them. But the monkeys have never stopped trying because they will climb up to the first floor, where we reside, to take the eggs. I close the sliding door quickly, but they keep parading the balcony in a desperate move to grab the eggs. After some time, they leave. Sometimes, they gain access into the house, enter the kitchen and eat from our cooked food and leave remnants. We have to throw away the leftovers to avoid Ebola and any other disease that could emanate from them.”
Chika Wigwe, who lives at the end of the street said, “They don’t eat just anything; they eat cooked food. As far as your food smells, you are inviting them. They will come in and take away your pot of food, even if it’s hot.
“The monkeys didn’t just start coming today. They have been around for some time. The only difference is that before now, they weren’t entering people’s houses to take food. But now, it seems they are hungrier.”
Another resident, who has a fashion design shop on the street but chose to remain anonymous, recounted his experience with the monkeys. “I grew up in this neighbourhood and my children were born and bred here. Now, the monkeys are so desperate for food that we have to take extra care securing our food. We cannot afford to leave any cooked food unattended to because they could pounce on it before you turn. They have once collected a pack of biscuits from my friend’s child. They are disturbing us so much in the neighbourhood,” he said.
On the contrary, a resident, who simply gave his name as Moshood and disclosed he moved into the area a year ago, said he was surprised when people claimed monkeys entered their houses.
“No monkey has ever entered my house. In fact, the only thing I can say about them is that they jump from one rooftop to the other, but they have never entered where I reside. Although I noticed they usually rest and take fresh air in the uncompleted building beside the mosque, I have never noticed that they entered into apartments,” he said.
The security operatives guarding the street gate noted that the monkeys only disturb houses where there is food, and also cool off in abandoned or uncompleted houses where people are not residing.
A resident of Solaru Street said she has been living on Solaru Street for 15 years and a monkey has never entered her home. She had only observed them once this year playing on the rooftop of a house adjacent hers.
Another resident agreed with her submission when he said no monkey has entered his house since he moved into the area over 10 years ago. He, however, added that the monkeys usually play around and jump on fences to get to Sosanya Street and other places.
This reporter observed that on Solaru Street, some window nets were torn and windows closed, while a few residents, on the other hand, left their windows and doors open for ventilation. Upon enquiry, it was gathered that the torn window nets was the handwork of an angry tenant who packed out of the house, while the closed windows were because the owners of the apartment were not at home. So, it was not because of monkeys.
However, sometimes the monkeys use their long and sharp nails to cut the nets of houses and wriggle their way in through the burglary proof. At other times, they open the sliding window nets to gain access.
To avoid changing nets often, some residents use barbed wires across thick nets on their windows and doors.
The Chairman of the Landlords Association further said that 14 years ago, efforts were made to seek the assistance of the state government, but the relevant authorities allegedly demanded N200,000 to evacuate the animals after a letter was submitted to them. Since then, he said, no effort has been made to seek the help of both the local and state governments on the matter.
Many monkeys were said to have been killed by people who desperately wanted to get rid of them, but the ones left are not making life easy for the residents. Also, that members of the community wanted to seek the help of special security operatives to kill the animals with guns but discarded the idea due to the ban on shooting in residential areas.
Olaleye, who said he has been observing the monkeys’ antics for over 15 years, said, “They move in tens, sometimes more. They are selective about what they eat. They don’t eat trash and they are also scared and cautious. They won’t attack you, but anyone who moves too close to them, they scratch with their long nails. They run when they see you with a stick.
“They love sweet things and can smell poison if added to their food. Once you chase them and you feel they are gone, by the time you turn back, they are there again. The monkeys don’t like the sun, so they usually stay off when it’s sunny and play around the bushes in the mornings and evenings. But once it is 6pm, they move to wherever they need to sleep.”
Residents who are affected have appealed to the state government to assist by evacuating the animals to a zoo or any other safe place for peace to reign in the community.