Anxiety in Lagos, Ogun as hoodlums terrorise residents

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Few minutes after President Muhammadu Buhari ended his speech, announcing the extension of the lockdown order in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Monday, some disgruntled elements seized the streets and started attacking, robbing and maiming residents in various parts of the states. Some days earlier, the hoodlums had launched vicious attacks on residents, citing hunger.  

Indeed, there is palpable tension in Lagos and Ogun states as hoodlums, especially cult groups, have taken over the streets robbing and harassing innocent residents. Residents of Ayobo, Ikotun, Ogba, Agege, Ipaja, Iyana-Ipaja, Iju in Lagos and adjoining places that fall into Ogun State such as Akute and Ajuwan etc have not been sleeping with their two eyes closed.

The attacks that are perpetrated by cult groups, especially Awawa Boys, One Million Boys and other groups seem to have overwhelmed the police.

Since last week Thursday, residents of Lagos who are convinced that the police would not be able to contain the raids by the massive numbers of the criminals have resorted to self-help as they have formed emergency vigilance groups in their areas. The vigilance group, who are seen in virtually all the streets set up bonfire with used tyres and dared the hoodlums to steer clear of their zones or risk their wrath.

At Iyana- Ipaja, Wasiu Oluwole, aka Iku, told Daily Sun: “I am leading my group against Awawa Boys and One million Boys. They have merged together to make our area ungovernable but we have said no to them. I am a transporter. We all have been at home because of the lockdown. I know that there is hunger in the land but that does not mean that we should start harassing innocent victims that are suffering the same hunger.

RELATED NEWS:Police arrest 150 suspects over robberies, cultism in Ogun

“ The Awawa Boys are so feared in Agege, but I don’t know why they left their base to come to Iyana- Ipaja since last week; they have been attacking people. They have been robbing people going to the market or those selling essential commodities. When they saw that they couldn’t get enough victims, they started house to house raiding. That was why I decided to mobilise my people. I am happy that we have been able to contain the criminals.

“Actually, we did not report to the police, because there is nothing the police can do. We have put up distress calls but the police failed to come. On Sunday, it was terrible, the criminals moved down to other areas like Alagbado, Ijaiye, Sango, Iju and Obawole Estate. Our people there told me that just as we protected Iyana Ipaja so also they secured their places.”

At Obawole Estate, Iju, there was serious tension as Awawa Boys storm the Olowo and Nndike areas. The youths of the area also resisted the hoodlums. Over 100 youths have taken over the streets. Armed with cudgels, the youths said they were protecting the their community from the impunity of the hoodlums who attempted to unleash mayhem on residents.

John Udoh, a resident of Ola Street in Obawole EstateM, said: “We don’t sleep in this area anymore. We are suffering the effects of the lockdown. Some cult groups came to disturb in our areas. They were robbing from shop to shop. The people who operate POS stores suffered more. Some were robbed and that was why we resort to self-help. We don’t sleep anymore. We put up bonfire to keep vigil so as to scare the robbers away. We beat gongs, drums and blew whistles to assure people that we are awake and protecting them. You can go round the streets; everyone is angry. We are hungry yet they still want to collect the little ones we have.”

A health workers, Lillian Njoku, said: “When I was driving down to my home Monday evening, I arrived a police checkpoint  near Maternity bus stop College Road Ogba, set up to monitor the restriction order, there was no presence of the police but over 100 armed youths. They made bonfire on the two sides of the road.  became afraid as I thought they were hoodlums, but some of them calmed me down and explained that they were on the road to ward off hoodlums. They made way for me but before I could arrive my house at Olowo, I passed over 10 roadblocks. All the road blocks were being manned by at least 50 armed youths. “

Daily Sun reliably gathered that in Ipaja area, policemen have started picking the youths who are protecting their areas. According to Dan Abua, “two of my friends keeping vigil with us have been picked by the police. They were arrested and taken to Area P Police Division. Two other friends taking fresh air in front of their house were also arrested and taken to the same command.

At Ayobo and Igando, residents were said to have started forming emergency vigilance groups. This development forced the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, to pay a visit to Igando Police Division in company with a top military officer. The boundary communities between Ogun and Lagos, Ajuwon, Akute and Matogun area still suffered the same fate with Lagos as they are also keeping vigil to ward off hoodlums.

READ ALSO:Police arrest 150 suspects over robberies, cultism in Ogun

A resident of Matogun, Ikemba, said: “We have not been sleeping since last week. We burn used tyres to scare the hoodlums who have been attacking our people. The robbers were requesting for food and money. They were up to 50 that stormed my house. They ransacked my house and took the little food items in my house. My yam, rice, beans, oil and money. While the house-to-house raiding was on, we put up distress calls to the police but they did not respond until two hours after the robbers had left for another area. I watched on the TV when the Ogun State Police Commissioner of Police and his Lagos counterpart said that there was no robbery attacks and that we were raising false alarm.”

A newspaper company has suffered two attacks by hoodlums at the Agege area and near the National Youths Service Corps ( NYSC) office ,Iyana Ipaja .

The bus conveying staff was attacked at Agege and staff were robbed of their money, phones and other personal effects. The second attack was near the NYSC camp where the car conveying senior editorial staff was seized and the staff paid some money before they were allowed to go.  The extension of the lockdown by the government for more I4 days has heightened the fear as residents are arming themselves the more in anticipation that the hoodlums may be more formidable than before. Every household has been advised to be home before 7pm.

However, Odumosu, who had initially claimed there was no reported case of armed robbery attack in Lagos later said that 98 persons were arrested in connection with cult related activities in the state.

However, the police high command, Abuja last Monday said they have arrested 191 suspects in connection with the activities of hoodlums and street urchins in the border communities between Lagos and Ogun states. The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, in a statement in Abuja, said exhibits recovered from the suspects were 15 locally made guns, 52 live cartridges, 42 cutlasses, axes, and large quantity of weeds suspected to be Marijuana. Mba said the exhibits were recovered by the police teams in the Agbado, Ifo, Otta and Agege axis.  Mr Mohammed Adamu, had ordered the immediate deployment of additional intelligence and operational assets of the force to the two affected states. The FPRO said the deployment comprises the Police Mobile Force (PMF) Units, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and the Special Tactical Squad (STS). According to him, the idea is to strengthen security and bolster public confidence in the affected areas. He said the intervention team would be coordinated by Mr Peter Ogunyanwo, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of Research and Planning. Mba said Ogunyanwo, a seasoned crime fighter, is also the coordinating DIG for South-West Geopolitical Zone. According to him, the DIG is to oversee the deployment of the additional assets to enhance public safety, public confidence and general security in the two states.  As at 8pm yesterday, the special intervention squad has arrived Lagos. Some of them were seen on the Ikeja and Iju axis.

Odumosu has warned that the police would deal with anyone found making bonfire on the raids.

Meanwhile, IGP Adamu, has read the riot act to criminals attacking lawabiding citizens under the guise of COVID-19 lockdown.

He read the riot act against the criminals attacking residents, especially in Ogun and Lagos states, as a result of the stay-at-home-order by the Federal Government.

Adamu, who gave the warning before the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 yesterday in Abuja, warned that such dastardly act against residents would no longer be tolerated by the police.

He warned culprits to desist from such criminality, saying: I, hereby, sound a note of warning to criminals going from place to place, attacking innocent citizens to desist from doing such.”

Adamu said he had ordered the Commissioners of Police in Lagos, FCT and Ogun states not to allow criminals to take the opportunity of the lockdown to perpetrate their heinous crimes against innocent residents.

He called on the citizenry to report any crime to the police public relations officers in such states, adding that spokespersons’ numbers across the country would soon be released to the public so that they can reach them whenever in distress.

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He said that the police have also deployed its personnel to banks, residential areas and other public areas considered important due to complaints received from the public, especially in Lagos and Ogun states.

He, however, urged police personnel deployed to the affected states to adhere strictly to the rights of the citizens, adding that the police have also embarked on sensitisation to educate the public on the need to obey the lockdown order. He said the police would continue to provide escort for health workers and other essential workers to curtail COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that diplomats would also enjoy such privilege.

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