By Emma Nnadozie, Kingsley Omonobi, Demola Akinyemi, Brisibe Perez, Esther Onyegbula, Ozioruva Aliu and Ibrahim HassanWuyo
The insecurity situation in the country is currently on the upswing, as robbers, cultists and kidnappers have taken over most cities, especially in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests which led to withdrawal of policemen from most metropolis.
Recall that most cities, particularly in the south of the country, have witnessed less policing in the last few weeks, heightening fears among citizens, and not even the intervention of Police high command and prominent citizens has led to any improvement in policing.
In Lagos, Edo, Delta, Kwara, among others, Nigerians live in fear of being attacked either in their homes or on the streets.
In Lagos, the streets are still devoid of police patrol, as commuters and motorists have become subjects of attacks by armed robbers, while cultists seized most parts of the city.
Last Wednesday’s day light robbery attack and hijack of a bullion van in Ajah area of Lagos State remains the climax of the prevailing state of insecurity in the city.
In that attack, the robbers succeeded in making away with cash, while also killing, at least, two persons in the process, including a policeman escorting the bullion van.
Vanguard gathered that workers and traders are attacked by robbers in the early hours of the day at bus stops, while they set road blocks to rob motorists at night.
An eyewitness told Vanguard yesterday that the robbers now mount road blocks around Shoprite in Sangotedo area of Lekki-Epe expressway to rob motorists, adding that they also killed a lady at a bus stop very close to the same spot early Wednesday morning.
The situation is not different in most other parts of Lagos.
In Orile area, gunmen daily engage in fierce fight for supremacy. They engage in sporadic shootings, attacks and killings, on not just their rivalries but residents of the area. People are now being forced to permanently remain indoors while gunmen hold sway.
One of the residents told Vanguard that every evening, people coming back from their work places are forced to run for safety as a result of the crisis caused by the heavily armed cultists who engage each other in open fight for supremacy. According to the resident, “in the past, each time we heard any slight noise, policemen will arrive promptly but now, the situation has changed. Cultists have taken over our streets after the burning of Orile police station and nobody comes to our rescue now. The burnt station is empty. Many aggrieved residents have nowhere to report cases. “Those that went to the Area Command in Ojuelegba were always told to write down their complaints and that’s where it ends.”
Another resident of the area, Alhaji Tajudeen lamented that Orile community was now a very dangerous zone.
“Criminals and cultists have taken over. They openly patrol the streets armed to the teeth and they break into homes, cart away properties, rob and rape freely without fear. Only God knows when this nightmare will be over because of the absence and inability of policemen to respond to distress calls,” he lamented.
Investigations also revealed that the same chaotic and fearful situation exists in areas such as Ajegunle, Ijora-Badia, Araromi Ajangbadi, Iyana-Ipaja, Aja, some parts of the highbrow Lekki, Palm groove, Onipani, Somolu, Bariga, Ikorodu etc.
Vanguard gathered that Ikorodu, Mile 12 and Ketu areas seem to be worst hit as criminals and cultists have continued to unleash mayhem and terrorize people daily.
This prevailing, dangerous situation, according to a member of the vigilante group in Ketu, Moshood, has led to the death of many.
“People are being attacked, wounded, killed, raped and robbed daily. There is just nothing like police presence. We heard that the AIG, Zone 2 and CP had threatened to deal decisively and ruthlessly with their men that refused to go back to duty but unfortunately, the situation has not improved,” he said.
Chief Anayo Eze, a security consultant told Vanguard: “Do you expect them to waste their lives when we all know that most of their weapons were carted away by criminals who pretended to be protesters?
“These criminals capitalized on the protests to take their pound of flesh on the hardworking policemen who, hitherto, did not allow them operate freely before the protests.
“So, you still want them to go back to their burnt stations, expose themselves and be killed like fowls again? Government should do the needful by urgently providing new stations and equip them with new weapons to face the onerous challenges ahead.
“These measures, if urgently taken, will rekindle their spirit and make them swing into action once again. Anything short of this will not restore any confidence in them. “
However, Vanguard learned last night that the Army, in collaboration with the Police yesterday raided black spots in Ajah, and other parts of the state, arresting 720 suspects.
Incriminating items, including locally-made guns and live cartridges, charms, weeds suspected to be Indian hemp, were said to have been recovered during the operation.
Lagos State police command SP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, who confirmed the crackdown, noted that
the Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, had earlier warned and directed police officers and men to move against lawlessness and criminality in Lagos or face dismissal.
He said Odumosu also directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of SCID, Panti, to commence discreet investigation on the arrested suspects for immediate prosecution, urging those whose items were looted during the recent #EndSARS violence to come up for claims of their items with proof of ownership.
“The Police boss noted that there is no reason or excuse for any policeman to be absent or indolent on duty, despite the words of encouragement, solidarity and support from the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and well meaning Nigerians, including our wives and mothers, the Police Officers Wives Association.
“He, therefore, warned the area commanders , DPOs and heads of departments to henceforth book and declare any policeman who fails to report to duty a deserter and to deal with them according to the provisions of the Police Act and Regulations,” the PPRO had stated in a statement weekend.
Also the state governor, promised to give scholarships to children of slain policemen in the state to assuage the pains of losing their loved ones and also pledged to rebuild police stations razed by hoodlums during the #EndSARS protest in the state.
In Benin City, the Edo State capital, there is continued fear among residents in several parts of the city as cult related killings linked to clashes between members of the Vikings and Aye confraternities have continued, with the latest being the killing, yesterday, of three persons by suspected cultists, two in Urohra Junction and one by pipeline junction in Eyaen.
Besides the killings, there is upsurge in robberies across the state capital and this has completely shut down night life in the state capital.
But the police have called for information from the public to recover stolen arms and ammunition from police stations that were destroyed and burnt in the state.
Reports have put the death toll at 37 in the past one week. On Saturday, two dead bodies were found around Uselu, while three were found in Evidence Street by Isihor.
Before then, several persons have been killed in different parts of the city, including Idogbo, Y-Junction, Nomayo, Three House, all along Sokponba Road.
Other areas where killings have taken place are Ogida Barracks, Siluko road, Costain area in New Benin, Aduwawa near Oando filling station, Upper Mission, near Ewa Road junction. Cherubim and Seraphim area of Upper Mission, while armed robbery is a daily occurrence all over the city.
Some residents have constituted themselves into securing their lives and mete out instant justice to suspected thieves.
Two suspected thieves who were caught last week along Sokponba road, were killed and burnt. Another was caught by Omoruyi off Sapele Road and beaten to a pulp.
Some young people in Amagba have formed a vigilante to guard the area, screening all vehicles going and coming out of the place
One of the youths said: “We will not wait for the miscreants and hoodlums who had made Upper Sokponba and other affected areas of Benin uninhabitable to bring their lawlessness into our community.
“We have resolved to join our vigilante group to patrol, check, and monitor the security situation in our community and we will make sure Amagba is safe for all.”
When contacted, the Commissioner of Police, Edo State, Babatunde Johnson Kokumo, said the attack on police facilities, burning of police stations and patrol vehicles during the #EndSARS protests that turned violent has affected their operations but noted that gradually, they would come back to their normal duty of checking crime and criminality in the state.
He said: “For instance, in Upper Sokponba in Ikpoba-Okha axis, three police facilities were burnt down, displacing the DPOs and other police officers in these divisions. These officers now report at the state command headquarters, we now send them on patrol from there so you should expect some hitches but we will continue to work and get things right.”
Killing of Citizens: IGP Orders Deployment of 5 Mobile Police Units to Edo state:
Against the backdrop of attacks by suspected Cultists and criminal elements, particularly escapee and jailed criminals who escaped from two Prisons facilities in Benin and Oko, the Inspector General of Police has ordered the deployment of Five (5) Mobile Police Units to Edo state.
This followed fears and uncertainty making the rounds in both Edo and Delta states alleging that seven person’s have been killed in Edo state while six person’s have been killed in Delta state in the last two days by suspected cultists and other criminal elements.
A senior Police Officer who spoke with Vanguard, disclosed the as told Vanguard that the five Mobile Police Units were possibly drawn from units in the North West and Middle Belt parts of the country.
The officer disclosed that the IGPs directive is that escapee prisoners from the prisons facilities in Edo state must be apprehended.
He disclosed that the Edo state Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki has pledged logistics and other necessary supports including provision of patrol vehicles to ensure that the criminal elements are hunted down and arrested
In Ughelli, Delta State, at least six persons have been confirmed dead within a space of four days, following reprisal killings by two rival cult groups.
The cult groups involved in the clash, according to security sources, are Aro baggars and Aye confraternities.
The killings which started last Thursday at Afiesere community, led to the death of a resident simply identified as Nyerhovwo, popularly known as C.O, whose head was smashed with a battle axe during a robbery attack by a three-man robbery gang.
According to sources in the community, luck, however, ran out on a member of the gang while they were fleeing the scene of the incident as his leg was shattered when one of the guns in their custody accidentally discharged, leading to his colleagues leaving him behind to die in his pool of blood.
One of the sources, who gave his name as Felix Adaruvwehe, disclosed further that upon the arrival of the local vigilante operatives in the area, the dead armed robber was discovered to be a friend of the victim, an incident that led to the reprisal attacks in other parts of Ughelli metropolis.
A security source from the ‘A’ division police station, Ughelli, while confirming the incident, said five other persons were killed as a result
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said two persons were killed on Friday at the central garage axis and Agishon area, another on Saturday at Oghenevweta and Akpodiete streets, while two other victims were shot dead yesterday at Ekiugbo, with one of them confirmed dead while the second person was rushed to a private hospital where he is currently receiving medical attention.
Confirming the development yesterday, Delta State police command said it has begun a man hunt for those behind the killings recorded in the past few days in Ughelli metropolis.
State Police Public Relations Officer, Onome Onowakpoyeya, who gave the confirmation, said: “We are on the hunt for the prime suspects involved in the incidents, but for now, we are on observation as a result of the #EndSARS protest.”
Asked what measures were being put in place to curb the killings in the area, she said: “Unless something serious happens, like these murder cases that you just made mention of, we are on observation.
“But all I can tell you is that we are currently on the manhunt for the perpetrators behind the attacks, and I assure you that they will be brought to book.”
Meanwhile, a team of military operatives from the 222 battalion, Agbarha-Otor and personnel of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, VGN, have rescued four persons who were abducted last Thursday by gunmen between Ekrerhavwen junction and Uviamughe along the busy East/West road.
Confirming the rescue of the travellers, the source said: “The security team had combed the area and traced the hoodlums and the victims to Ododegho bush near Ughelli and engaged them in a gun duel, resulting in the hoodlums fleeing with bullet wounds and abandoning the victims in their hideout.”
In Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, one suspected cultist, popularly known as,”Tiny”, was allegedly shot dead in a gun duel on Saturday by some police officers for allegedly terrorising his neighbours with gun shots.
Media aide of the former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, was quick to distance the incident from the programme of 8th Year Memorial prayer for Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki which successfully took place some meters away.
Vanguard reliably gathered that the incident coincidentally occurred at a spacious mechanic shop around Commissioner way,GRA ilorin which was a stone throw to Iloffa residence of the Sarakis while the Prayers for 8th year remembrance of Dr Olusola Saraki was ongoing.
The suspected cultist, apparently tipsy, who came to drink in one of the “joints ” in the area was said to be shooting a pump action gun into the air, causing panic in the area.
Onlookers were said to have cautioned him but he was unperturbed, saying he was testing his newly acquired gun which he described as one in town.
Vanguard gathered that the gun shots prompted some few police officers close to scene to rescue the situation.
The suspected cultist was later found to be on the wanted list of the police for allegedly committing many atrocities in the state capital.
There was pandemonium in the area as the suspected cultist reportedly fired some gun shots at the approaching team of police officers in a vehicle but he was shot dead in an exchange of gunfire with the the Police.
Opokesperson of Kwara State police command, Ajayi Okasanmi, confirmed the incident but said he has not been officially briefed.
“I heard about the incident, but I have not been officially briefed,” he said.
Meanwhile, two children and a staff of Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, Zaria, Kaduna State, were kidnapped on Saturday night.
An official of the school identified as Sunusi Hassan, who escaped being abducted, was shot on the hand and is now receiving treatment at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Shika, Zaria.
Vanguard gathered that gunmen invaded the staff quarters of the main campus of the institution, owned by the Kaduna State government around 9pm on Saturday.
Kabir Abdullahi, Rector of the Polytechnic, confirmed the incident, saying the attackers gained entrance into the school premises on Saturday night.
He said: “I was in Kaduna when the Chief Security Officer of the college called me and informed me about the attack. It is true that the bandits have kidnapped one of my staff, Engineer Bello Atiku, who is the Head of Department, Computer Engineering in the school. He was also kidnapped along with two children to an unknown destination.”
The rector attributed the incident to the porous nature of the school which, according to him, exposed the polytechnic community to unforeseen danger.
He said, despite the vast land and the forest, the school was not fenced, making it prone to danger, and appealed to the polytechnic community to remain calm, saying security operatives were on top of the situation.