Return of terror

Lagosians for some time now have some respite in the hands of criminals.

But such good fortune is over as terror has once again gripped the people while at home, on the road and at work.
It is once again the days of rage in the mega city of mega crimes. Robbery of shades – at home in broad daylight and on the streets where criminals on the bike make life unbearable for residents and pedestrians.

Recent armed robbery attacks last month were blood cuddling and returned the state to panic. Bank robbery that had been history is back.

When Governor Babatunde Fashola assumed office as Lagos State governor, armed robbers were overrunning the state. He realised that without security, progress and development remain a mirage and he set up security stakeholders forum, which led to the funding of the police and other security agencies to combat armed robbery and other violent crimes. Thereafter, the city had peace as unrepentant criminals fled.

But at 2.15am in one of the days last month, robbers armed to the teeth stormed Afromedia area in Ojo and raided the place from house to house.

Distressed calls were sent to the police and the Rapid Response Squad (RRS). After a long silence, the security squad of OP MESSA, which comprise only soldiers set out to the rescue. Unfortunately, they ran into an ambush laid by the robbers. The robbers had operated for over two hours and when they realised that police would be coming, instead of going home after the operations, they decided to size up the police by laying ambush at three spots.

There was no public power supply, so the whole area was in darkness and as the soldiers drove slowly and cautiously down the deplorable Adaloko Road in Afromedia, the robbers allowed them to advance into the second ambush before opening fire on them from close range. There wasn’t an escape for the soldiers. The goons mauled the five soldiers and escaped with their guns. The way the Ford Ranger pick-up they rode in was riddled with bullets left no doubt that even an ant in it could not have been spared.

Over one hundred AK 47 expended shells of bullets littered the spot of the attack after the operation.
As the robbers triumphantly drove home about 5am, they left more blood in their trail with the killing of two men going to queue at the voters’ registration centre to obtain voters’ cards. Police didn’t come to the scene of the robbery until about 6am. Residents wondered what the two Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) stationed at Iyanna Iba and Alaba International Market are meant for since Afromedia is a stone throw from Alaba and Iyanna Iba.

Residents of the area who are yet to recover from the shock concluded that if robbers could make mincemeat of soldiers, whose presence drives away their fears, their encounter with the police would be a story out of this world.

As if to announce their presence after going on sabbatical for three years, few days after the Afromedia incident, armed robbers raided two new generation banks in Ebute Meta, Lagos. About 2am on the said day armed robbers first stormed one of the banks where they tied the security men on duty.
The robbers broke into the bank vault from where they stole an unspecified amount of money. Not satisfied with their loot from the bank, they also got to another bank. The security men in the second bank were said to have resisted the hoodlums by firing into the air.

The robbers, who were infuriated by the action of the security men, started firing sporadically into the bank premises. The gunmen went into the bank. While this operation lasted for over one hour thirty minutes, the police looked helpless the bandits, seemed determined to stage a comeback in a city they were forced to flee in the last three years.

Towards the end of last month, about 2.30am a robbery gang blocked the Isheri end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway robbing passengers that were leaving or coming to Lagos. They killed three policemen and wounded one from Isheri police station. They succeeded in escaping with their guns.

Also an armed gang struck at Ikorodu and attacked a team of policemen on patrol. According to the report, they were returning from operation when they met the police patrol van and surrounded it. They shot and killed one of the officers and relieved others of two rifles. The following day, another set of robbers struck at Apapa. They collected a gun also from a police sergeant, few minutes after he signed for it from his Division. On January 21, at about 10am, robbers reportedly attacked an eatery outlet on Allen Avenue, Ikeja.

According to eyewitness, there was heavy shooting on that day like in a war. They came in a car, parked at Allen Roundabout and walked to the fast food place. Ironically, their vehicle was parked in front of a police post. Before the robbery on Allen Avenue, robbers on that same day had earlier struck at an Intercontinental Bank branch in Ipaja-Ayobo.

They attacked the bank at 1:30 am, blowing the banking hall with dynamites, and destroyed the five automated teller machines (ATMs) positioned outside the premises. While no life was lost, the raiders operated for hours unchallenged, even when the Ayobo Divisional Police headquarters is located within a 200-meter radius from the scene of the robbery, until reinforcement from police came.

On January 20 in Somolu, about 10 robbers operated in a beer parlour. An hotelier was reportedly killed in that operation. The deceased, according to reports was a victim of circumstances who was driving through the area, when the robbers sighted him and became scared. A soldier, who was on guard duty in the area was also a victim as the bandits killed him.

The robbers were said to have come from Ogun State through Ayetero-Iyele boundary town and escaped through the same route after the operation. Before the Ayobo and Shomolu robbery incidents, armed robbers in the early hours preceding the New Year had struck at Okeira and Aruna areas of Ogba, a suburb of Lagos injuring several people. They had enough time to also rape a young lady during the attack.

In the past two months, armed robbers have without let terrorized several parts of Lagos. The most hit are Ajegunle, Agboju, Oke Afa, Isolo, Ikotun - and Badagry towns raising fears that this city may be back to the days of apprehension.

Even at traffic holdup, robbers attack stranded motorists, as they spare no residents in the streets. It is not only in the night, even in the daytime, they visit and rob homes.

In Oke-Afa, Isolo, on Sunday, February 14, armed men raided homes in Ilamose Estate and shot two – a man and a woman, who wanted to raise alarm on sighting them after robbing homes of some Chinese nationals. Attacks on people in the streets by armed men on motorcycles that snatch bags and shoot victims have been common occurrence here as homes also live in fear.

The unsavory development is giving the police authorities in Abuja serious concern. Reliable police source at the headquarters said the force is not comfortable with the development and if it continues, there would be mass transfers of policemen in Lagos to other areas, especially, Maiduguri and Bauchi.

Reacting to the insecurity situation in the state, especially the resurgence of violent crime in Lagos, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Zone 2 Command, S. B. Fakai said the command is addressing the issue. He admitted the new trend of bloodletting is worrisome and assured that in few days to come Lagosians will see the progress the police would make to bring back peace and the insecurity would be of the past.

According to him, the proliferation of arms and ammunition is a major challenge facing the command and noted that efforts are on to mop up the arms that are in wrong hands. “If we are able to mop all the arms in wrong hands definitely the state will be safe haven for everybody. We are carrying out raids at suspected areas.”

Fakai said that some police officers have undergone training to prepare them for the clean sweep ahead.
On the Boko Haram crisis that is spreading across the north of the country, the AIG said there are no vestiges of Boko Haram in Lagos but he assured that the command has to keep surveillance and beef up information at various Hausa communities.

He assured the police in Lagos have taken proactive measures by meeting with the Hausa community in Agege, Ketu, Ojo Alaba and areas and advised them to maintain peace in their areas and report any movement that is likely to breach the peac