Scanty police presence, spike in crime rate trigger fear among Lagos residents
• Hoodlums vandalise 20 cars, loot 50 shops in Mushin
• The Guardian staff robbed in front of the office
• Former IGP Balogun urges officers to return to work
A month after the #EndSARS protests turned violent across the country with widespread brigandage and burning of police, public and private facilities, there is apprehension among many Lagos residents as the spike in crime rates triggers fear in many settlements and communities.
Citizens now take responsibility for their own security as visibility policing is at its lowest ebb. Last Thursday’s bloody attack on a bullion van by daredevil robbers in the Ajah area of the state has further aggravated their fears.
Speaking on the rise in crime rate within the metropolis, Christopher Chukwuka said: “We are at the mercy of hoodlums now as policemen no longer respond to distress calls. Bad boys now operate with boldness.”
Narrating his experience on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, an eyewitness told The Guardian that motorists should always pray against getting stuck in traffic as hoodlums now operate unchallenged.
“A driver was attacked around the Iyana-Isolo area. It took the intervention of other bold motorists who jumped down from their vehicles to save the motorist from being robbed. The hoodlums fled immediately they saw the co-operation of other road users.”
On Sunday evening, a female staff members of The Guardian, Adetoke Laolu-Ogunranti, was attacked by armed hoodlums. She was dispossessed of her phones, valuables, and other work tools.
Narrating her ordeal in the hands of the robbers, she said: “It was a quiet Sunday evening after spending most of my day in the office, working on a project. I called my husband around 8:00 p.m to come and pick me as I was done with my work. He notified me of his arrival around 8:20 p.m and I immediately left the office premises.
“Our usual practice is for him to park at the opposite lane of my office, while I cross the road to meet him. Sunday evening was no exception; I crossed the road with no premonition of danger lurking around. Suddenly, out of nowhere came two boys who I initially thought were going their own way. Then I felt someone pull my laptop bag, I turned to see one holding a cutlass and within a second, had taken my phone off my hand.
“I immediately knew this was an attack. I held onto my laptop bag saying ‘please let me go, I don’t want trouble’. The other guy then pulled out his cutlass and said ‘we will cut you to pieces’. My husband who was watching from the other lane shouted: ‘give them the bag, your safety is important.’
“Still holding on to the bag, I was pushed to the middle of the road. Falling flat, my life flashed before my eyes as I landed in front of a moving vehicle, but the driver abruptly slammed his brake. There were people who soon gathered to watch and I kept shouting ‘somebody please help’ but no one could do anything.
“The two boys left, not hurriedly, in fact bouncing with each stride suggesting I was the one who invaded their territory. I followed them, begging and crying. I had gathered the sympathy of onlookers who stopped me from following them. It was the most painful sentence to hear. ‘There’s nothing you can do, they get away with these things.’”
Also on Sunday, residents of Olusoga, Daniel, Awawu streets, and environs in Mushin, Lagos, had a sleepless night as hoodlums came in large numbers to terrorise the area. In the process, over 20 vehicles and 50 shops were vandalised. The scene of the attack was a stone throw to Area D headquarters of the police in Mushin.
It was gathered that the hoodlums came from Idi-Araba to attack the community. A resident of Awawu Street told newsmen her husband’s and neighbours’ cars were vandalised. “We parked the cars in our compound. They threw all sorts of dangerous things that landed on the vehicles. We dared not go out,” she said, adding that the street gate was damaged by the hoodlums before gaining entrance.
Another resident, simply identified as Wale, said the police ignored their calls for help. “They told us to deal with the situation and that they would come after the fracas. We need help so these hoodlums don’t keep terrorising us. We are under serious attack,” he said, blaming the attack on a clash by rival cult groups.
It would be recalled that last Monday’s daredevil attack on Ilasamaja police station in the area, which left one policeman dead and another injured, had since sent the community into a panic, forcing community leaders to plead for the return of policemen.
The policemen had relocated to Area D headquarters in Mushin since the station was razed down during the #EndSARS violence, exposing the town to the reign of street cults.
As of yesterday, community leaders were still making frantic efforts to get a space that could be used as a temporary station so that policemen could return to the area.
The DPO of the Ilasamaja division, Segun Rafiu, who regretted the security challenge the community was facing, promised to relocate his men to the community anytime a suitable station is made ready.
He said: “We have been directed by the commissioner of police to accept anywhere the community provides for us as a temporary station. We are the ones that want to use the place. It’s an office, not a house.”
Confirming that the absence of his men might have emboldened cultists to go on the rampage, Rafiu said he had been able to keep them away in the last seven months.
“I have a testimony that this is my seventh month in Ilasamaja. Since my assumption of office, no cultist has ever struck. Even during their 8/8 and 7/7 anniversaries, I was able to nip their trouble in the bud before anything. I am just surprised that with this little issue now, they have started disturbing and disorganizing the community.”
Worried by the trend of events, former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, has urged officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force to return to their statutory duties, after being displaced from their stations during the #EndSARS protests.
Balogun made his plea to police officers in a statement. He said: “I urge all members of the Nigeria Police Force in our country to return to their duty posts and continue to provide the much-needed security to our dear country, Nigeria not minding the recent brutal attacks, arson, and acts of intimidation against the force.
“The police remain the first line of internal security as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution.”
Therefore, it behooves all and sundry not to betray the spirit of the constitution. I sincerely appeal and urge all my brothers and sisters in the force to put the past behind us as the Federal and State Governments, as well as police authorities, are positively and aggressively addressing the unprecedented provocative attacks on the police institution. We all love you. Please, once again, I appeal to you all to return to duty without further delay.”