Lagos communities resort to self-help, keep vigil to check rising invasion by robbers
• Body supports the formation of vigilante groups to thwart looting
• Group condemns calls to relax stay-at-home directive
After a day of rage across communities in Agege, Alimosho, Ejigbo and Oshodi areas of Lagos State yesterday, the president’s broadcast at 7:00 p.m. which extended the lockdown by two weeks, heightened tensions as robbery attacks spiked in the mainland communities of the state.
As the effect of the lockdown continues to bite harder on Lagos residents, armed robbers and miscreants have continued to unleash mayhem on Lagosians. Residents of Egbe Idimu Local Council Development Area in Lagos State were terrified on Easter Monday night over the presence of One Million Boys. It was gathered that the hoodlums identified as members of the ‘One Million Boys’ gang operated at the Aiko Junction of Ogunrombi-Orisumbare Road in Idimu Monday night where they looted shops and bungled some homes around the Paiko, Ogunrombi and its environs.
According to an eyewitness, one of the youths in the area was injured in the head while resisting the hoodlums. “The boys operated almost unhindered until some of the few brave youths in the area tried to deter the miscreants that came from Orisumbare to rob in Idimu,” he said.
After the incident, the youths formed a vigilante group, making bonfires and erecting all sorts of barricades within the area.
Also, residents of Ije Ododo and Ijegun communities yesterday came out in their numbers to resist the invasion of the area by the dreaded robbery gang. The residents came out at 12midnight and held vigil, armed with cutlasses and other weapons to safeguard their communities. They also burnt tires at several road junctions and intersections and set up patrol teams to move around the area.
Speaking with The Guardian, chairman of Abule Ayi community development association (CDA), Ije Ododo, Pastor Segun Babatunde, said the community on Monday night at about 10:00 p.m. mobilised when they received information that the One Million Boys were about to invade the area. He said they were able to chase away the robbers with the assistance of some soldiers who fired gunshots into the air.
He added that the residents held vigil till the early hours of yesterday to ensure the robbers did not return. Babatunde, however, appealed to both the state and federal governments to put in place viable palliative measures to cushion the effects of the lockdown directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the situation is biting hard on citizens.
“The increase in crime can be attributed to hunger. If this concern is addressed, there would be a noticeable reduction in crime,” he said.
The Guardian gathered that residents of Ejigbo, Orisumbare Idimu in Alimosho, who had mobilized themselves to defend the area against armed robbers turned against themselves over a misunderstanding leading to a free-for-all fight among themselves. It was gathered that some old acrimony among the youths of the community reared its head leading to the skirmish, which saw someone stabbed to death.
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation, Assembly of Patriots International, has criticised the recent pronouncements particularly by various state governments and religious leaders to relax their earlier various measures of preventing the spread of the coronavirus in across their various states and places of worship. The group believe such action is capable of putting the lives of Nigerians in serious danger and crisis that is likely going to overwhelm the nation’s health sector.
While speaking during the pandemic awareness campaign in Benin, the National Secretary of the group Mr. John Osazuwa compared the unprecedented situation in other developed countries like the US, Italy, Spain, France and other countries that have lost thousands of their citizens to the deadly virus to that of Nigeria which from available records has not recorded such alarming casualties.
In his words, the national officer of the group opined that our leaders both government and religious leaders must not play with wildfire or take the seeming luck or better situation we are presently expressing for granted. This according to him might spell doom to the nation.
But the Lagos chapter of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) has supported the formation of self-defence and vigilante committees in different neighbourhoods and communities across Lagos State to repel attacks by rampaging street urchins. In a statement by its chairperson, Comrade Rufus Olusesan, he said the party had earlier called for the formation of democratically-elected action and defense committees in communities to coordinate essential supplies and control security and defense during the period of lockdown.
“We are aware that the extension of the lockdown in Lagos State for an additional 14 days by President Muhammadu Buhari-led government without adequate palliatives by the Babajide Sanwo-Olu- led Lagos State Government and the Federal Government is largely responsible for the growing anarchy and restiveness in poor working-class communities. It is this obvious failure to respond to the needs of the masses that has created a more crisis situation that resulted in looting and stealing. Some of these gangs of boys are Awawa Boys, One Million Boys, One Minute Silence Boys, Ere Asalatu Boys.”