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Insecurity worries Lagos, Ogun residents than COVID-19

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Turn Vigilantes, Burn Tyres To Wade Off Criminals
• Where Are The Security Agencies, Residents Wonder

While Nigerians in other parts of the country worry about Coronavirus (COVID-19), most residents of Alimosho, Agege, Ojo, Ilamoshe Estate, Oke-Afa, Isolo as well as some parts of Ogun State were during the week more concerned about their security, following attacks and intentions of attack by criminals, such as ‘One Million Boys’ ‘Awawa Boys,’ ‘No Salary Boys,’ etc.

Residents of all the areas resorted to burning tyres and keeping vigil against attack from hoodlums after an initial panic mode, as hoodlums ravaged neighbouring areas and tried to extend their attacks to the vicinity.

These attacks started barely hours after President Muhammadu Buhari announced an extension of the initial 14-day lockdown for another two weeks to fight COVID-19 pandemic.

A drive through the areas showed signs of burnt tyres at the entrance of virtually all streets and major roads.

Tension, however, escalated for residents since Easter Monday, leading to shops dealing in essential services shutting down abruptly, even as residents started preparing for any eventuality, with vigilantes burning tyres, blowing whistles and making all sorts of sounds to alert neighbours and wade off the attack.

It was gathered that hoodlums, mostly area boys, cultists and those who collect daily levies from commercial vehicles and traders were also part of the series of attacks and threats, having been off their daily source of livelihood as a result of the lockdown.

President of Abesan Estate Residents Association, Michael Kehinde, said: “I can tell you that there has been no incident in the estate. The video circulating on social media on the young man who was killed didn’t happen in the estate, but unfortunately, the closest hospital for them was in the estate. However, they were asked to take the body away after he was confirmed dead.”

He disclosed that a clash between hoodlums trying to make their way into the estate, which was prevented, resulted in the use of bottles, cutlasses and other harmful objects and eventually led to the boy’s death, assuring that no incident has happened in the estate and there was no cause for alarm, even though residents had taken to burning tyres and keeping vigil in case there was an attack.

While Police presence was not felt in the estate, at the Aboru link bridge, where the incident occurred, Policemen of the state Rapid Response Squad (RRS) were seen, to wade off further attack.

A resident, simply identified as Seun, who had acted in the vigil to secure the neighbourhood, said: “The so-called touts terrorising the whole estate have promised to come to steal from shops, houses, rape our daughters and our wives, so we decided to stay awake to secure places where there loopholes in the estate.

“When we met them one-on-one combat, we were more than them and they felt threatened, which led to that statement.”

He, however, added that the boy who was killed was shot when the rampaging hoodlums, known as ‘One Million Boys’ battled Mosan/Estate boys, who were preventing them from penetrating their vicinity.

Seun said that it had been very stressful keeping watch, even though people have turned up to make it work and this has continued. He believed this might continue unless the military wades in.

Another resident, identified as simply Francis, said the lockdown has cut the touts off their daily income, adding: “The Police are scared of these boys and they, in turn, do not respect or regard the Police; they only get scared of the military or SARS officers.”

While dismissing the notion that hunger was the reason behind the actions, he said: “I am not sure this is part of their problem. They prefer picking pockets, but they have been restricted because of the lockdown. We are left with no choice for now other than sleeping with one eye open because the Police have not been coming to the estate.

“We hear sirens wailing outside the estate as if the Police are working with the touts. The Police has forced us to stop burning tyres and drop our weapons, but we refused because they will end up arresting innocent people.”

While the burning of tyres continued, some residents were worried about the effect on their health and made to spend the night elsewhere since they could sleep with their windows closed due to the hot weather and lack of power supply, even as they look forward to an end to this form of insecurity.

The additional two weeks has caused panic and unrest in so many communities, people complained about some thugs popularly known as One million boys and No salary boys invading communities and robbing them of their properties and foodstuffs.

A resident of Egbeda, Hassan Okikiola, said: “When my area was invaded, it took the Police long time to respond, as the youths in the area secure their community by staying up at night.

“This robbery is carried out by the ‘One Million Boys,’ who wrote letters of their intent to attack and asked residents to keep the money for them or be prepared to lose their hands. The letter stated: ‘Alert! Alert!! Alert!!! We, the undefeated One Million Boys, will visit your area soon. Keep money for us and if you fail to do so, we’ll cut off your hands during the operation.’

“This letter created fear in residents and since then, youths have been mobilised to keep vigil throughout the night.”

Animashaun Azeez, a resident of Agege, said: “The Police in Agege are doing a great job. I think the Police are understaffed and there are a lot of things behind these robberies. The way out may be the civilian vigilante approach. Risky as well, but we cannot fold hands and watch our houses burn.

“We are told that over 180 suspects have been arrested by the Police, but the fact is that most of the robbers were caught by the vigilantes. The Police are not doing the needful in some communities.”

Ilasamaja was raided on Wednesday night around 11 pm by the ‘One Million Boys, causing unrest and panic amongst residents, safe for youths, who quickly mobilised to keep vigil throughout the night.

Desmond Ariyo, a resident of Governor road area of Ikotun, explained that he and the other residents had not been sleeping for some nights, as they were tasked with protecting their communities and properties at night.

“We have been hearing about these notorious criminals for awhile, then on April 4, they wrote a letter to us to notify us of their intention. Since then, we have been on high alert awaiting their arrival.

“They invaded our community last night, but unfortunately for them, we were all on high alert and we were able to chase them away. We reported them to the Police but were advised to be on high alert always to defend ourselves and our properties. We were also advised not to go against the law while defending ourselves from the criminals.

“Before now, we had a group of the vigilante who we pay every month to secure the communities, but with the recent situation, we cannot just sit home and depend solely on those people to help secure our communities and properties. We have taken it upon ourselves to defend our abode. These guys are very dangerous, as they steal, rape and destroy properties.

“We are imploring the relevant authorities to come to our rescue before lives are be lost.”

Bola Omodara, a resident of Abule Egba, tearfully narrated: “These guys are ruthless and operate during the day time, carrying guns and cutlasses. The first time they came to attack was last week during the daytime, they parked their vehicles by the roadside, entered the streets and started going into peoples home to rob them.

“Some of my neighbours and I weren’t so lucky, as we were attacked and lost most of our valuables to the criminals, but thank God no life was lost. Before now, criminals had always attacked my area, but it wasn’t at this rate and also not during the daytime. For these criminals to operate in the daytime only shows how dangerous they are.

“We make a camp fire and stay awake from 10:30 pm to 5 am to secure our community and properties, as we await the criminals’ arrival. The Police before now wasn’t responding to us, but since the pictures and stories of the incident started circulating online, the authorities now patrol at night with their siren. Still, some resident has volunteered to stay awake at night to watch over the community.

“For now, we don’t feel secure, as we are scared and always on high alert and also lock our doors and gates to avoid uninvited guest.”

“We will not have any of it; we are not responsible for Coronavirus pandemic that led to the lockdown. We are also suffering from the downturn of lockdown and would not let these guys take they said ‘pound of flesh’ from us as they have been doing in other communities.”

That was the lamentation of one of the residents of Ilamoshe Estate in Oke-Afa, Isolo, who revealed that the Police in that area have not been living up to expectation.

He said: “We don’t even have the time for the rigmarole of the Police. If we had done that, these bandits would have successfully penetrated the estate on each attempt.

“The Police have a way of turning up after the show and that is what we are shunning, which is why we will do our thing ourselves. The Police at this time cannot be trusted and so it is risky to put our lives, properties and livelihood in their care, as they can barely care for themselves.”

Another resident (name withheld) also narrated a series of encounter with the group of robbers and how sleep has now eluded both the young and the old in the estate. “They started storming our community since Monday evening, but due to the stories we have heard from other communities, we were ready for them even before they came.

“I am proud of all the landlords, residents, young and old of this estate. You should see these people in action at nights with full determination to safeguard the entire estate. Residents came out with different to stand up to the criminals and we will not give these bandits the avenue to take a dime of our money, belongings or personal effects.

“Which money are they even talking about? Is it the same money that is barely enough for survival and everyone is managing through the lockdown to put food on tables for their household?

“My advice for these robbers to go to the leaders of this country. They should locate those government workers who siphoned the palliatives for citizens and do whatever they will with them. Why would they keep traumatising and de
humanising innocent citizens who are equally going through the same hard times due to the lockdown?

“I know they don’t understand fairness, but they should brave up and go to those leaders who have continuously put us all in excruciating suffering in this country. After all, other countries all over the world are equally on lockdown, but citizens get palliatives in cash and kind without being syphoned by greedy government officials.

“I am appealing to these ‘One Million Boys’ and associate groups to go back to the drawing board, gather information on the greedy officials and take back all the money from them, since they don’t want to give it to citizens, rather than ravaging fellow innocent citizens.”

Another resident likened the situation to ‘war,’ saying: “We are at war and the earlier our leaders realised this, the better for all of us because even though these groups of robbers are too chicken-hearted to find their way to those who control the money meant for all citizens, a time will come when even honest citizens will revolt against government if the pandemic is not curtailed and people get back to making ends meet.

“Truth be told, revolting against Nigerian government would be justified, but this ‘One Million Boys’ acts on fellow citizens will backfire on them if they don’t put their hands where they belong.”

He concluded: “The child who says his/her mother will not sleep, will also have no sleep.”


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