Landlords and youths in some communities in Lagos and Ogun states have been depriving themselves of sleep at night to keep watch over their areas, which have come under the siege of hoodlums.
The residents reported that the hoodlums took advantage of the current lockdown in both states occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic to rob them of their valuables and rape their wives and daughters in border communities in both states.
In a bid to forestall further incidents, the landlords and residents were said to have taken the safety of lives and property in the affected areas into their own hands by working with vigilante groups to watch over the communities.
A landlord in the Aiyede community of the Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State, Rasaq Abejoye, said the hoodlums attacked residents of Ifo between Wednesday and Saturday, adding that neighboring communities had to beef up security as a result.
He stated, “Some days ago, the hoodlums attacked and robbed residents of Ifo and they have been encroaching on the neighboring communities also. These hoodlums have been using the lockdown to their advantage and have been dispossessing people of their valuables. My house is in Aiyede and what we did to keep our community safe was for us to become vigilantes.
“Since last week, landlords and youths have been watching over the community at night. Around midnight on Thursday, I was among the landlords, who volunteered to keep watch over the community. We usually start from 8 pm till around 2.30 am, but the youth usually stay longer than that and they also move around the area to send a signal that they are on guard.”
Another landlord in the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state, Bola Farinloye, said the attacks were a ripple effect of the lockdown, adding that most of the hoodlums perpetrating the crime were from Lagos State.
Farinloye said, “When they were building the Ilepo Market, some traders migrated to the Ijoko area in Ado-Odo/Ota and the hoodlums followed them. The hoodlums have been surviving in the community by engaging in different kinds of jobs. But when the lockdown started, because they had no other means of survival, they started robbing people.
“Initially, we reported to the police but they often come, raid and go, while the hoodlums’ illegal activities continue. So, landlords and youths in Ilogbo, Owode, Ilepa, Ijako, Isaka, Isorosi, Ewupe, Anisere and Agbado-Crossing, among others, have become vigilantes to watch over the communities.”
In a bid to curb the attacks, another landlord in Ado-Odo/Ota, Adedamola Abulkareem, said traditional authorities in the area had unleashed the Oro deity to scare away the hoodlums.
“The hoodlums even raped the wives of some landlords, who could not give them money during the attack. But to scare them away, the Oro deity has been unleashed. We have also informed the police and they have been patrolling our area,” Abdulkareem said.
In the Abule-Egba area of Lagos State, no fewer than 30 armed hoodlums were said to be robbing residents of their valuables.
It was gathered that youths in the area, in a bid to curb the attacks, clashed with the hoodlums, which created tension in the area in the process.
A resident, Ganiyu Adeniyi, said bonfires were made by the youths, who turned themselves into vigilantes at night, adding that the Oko-Oba Police Station had been notified about the development.
He said, “Solomon Grace, the Miyaki Relaxation Centre, Jibowu, Karimu Alabi and other areas in Abule-Egba have been enveloped in tension due to attacks by the hoodlums. Yesterday (Saturday), about 30 armed hoodlums were about to perpetrate crime in the area when the youth clashed with them. They have been robbing us in the area, but the youth have risen to the challenge.
“Landlords and youths in the community are the ones guarding us now, because the situation has gone out of control. They usually make bonfires at midnight so the hoodlums will be aware that they are not asleep.”
Similarly, pandemonium broke out on Sunday evening as suspected members of the Awawa Boys and One Million Boys stormed the Agege area of Lagos and dispossessed many residents of their valuables.
A resident, Kuburat Oyelakin, said “The Awawa Boys and One Million Boys have been robbing residents in their houses with guns in Agege. On Sunday evening, people living in Dopemu, Capitol Road, Amowo and Oko-Oba areas came onto the roads to watch over their areas, because of the insecurity they have been experiencing.
“We have been hearing gunshots in the area and everywhere is tensed.”
It was gathered that the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had deployed the personnel of the Rapid Response Squad and other units in the area to restore peace and arrest the hoodlums.
Meanwhile, the Ogun State Police Command, on Sunday, dismissed claims that armed robbers had taken over some parts of Ifo and Ado-Odo/Ota local government areas of the state.
It, however, paraded no fewer than 150 suspects in connection with the unrest in some parts of both local government councils.
There have been complaints of robberies and unrest by residents of Owode, Ilepa, Ifo, Arigbajo, Itori, Dalemo, Ijoko Joju, Sango, Ota, Ifo and Agbado-Ijaiye, among others.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Kenneth Ebrimson, led journalists to the troubled areas and paraded 150 suspects arrested in connection with the unrest in the affected communities.
Addressing journalists during the parade held at the Ifo Divisional Police Station, Ebrimson said there was no report of robbery to the command by anyone in the troubled areas.
The CP explained that what happened were cult clashes among seven rival groups in the areas as a result of the killing of one of the cultists.
Ebrimson said upon the receipt of information about the clashes, the command swung into action and made some arrests.
He added that the command deployed men from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Anti-Cultism Unit, Anti-Kidnapping Unit, Special Forces and conventional policemen, who were drawn from the Ifo and Ota area commands.
Ebrimson explained that his men smoked the suspects out of their hideouts and recovered various weapons from them.
According to him, eight locally-made guns, 52 live cartridges, eight knives, 12 mobile telephones, two pairs of scissors, large quantity of weed suspected to be Indian hemp, several cutlasses, an axe and a saw were recovered from the hoodlums.
The police boss said the unrest was caused by seven cults namely: Ilena Boys, Federal Boys, Lemon Boys, Base Boys, Sahara Boys, Gbese Boys and Marindoti Boys.
Ebrimson stated, “The genesis of this was from some criminal gangs that engaged in supremacy battle in Ifo, which spread to Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state.
“It started on April 4, and the command’s tactical operations unit arrested some hoodlums and recovered some ammunition.
“I want to say that there was no single case of armed robbery and no case of kidnapping has been reported. Nobody has been killed.
“The basic issue is cultism that emanated from the killing of one of them in Ifo and the crisis spread to Sango, Ijoko and Agbado.”
Meanwhile, the state governor, Dapo Abiodun, has vowed to deal ruthlessly with criminals, who engaged in harassment, robberies, burglaries and cult clashes in the Agbado-Ijaiye, Sango, Ijoko and Ifo areas of the state.
Abiodun said this following the arrest of 150 suspects by the state police command in connection with the unrest in the areas.
The governor said on Sunday in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, “It has become expedient that we do not spare the rod and spoil the child. Anybody, no matter whose child he or she is, if found guilty of armed robbery, will be visited with the full weight of the law, including the capital punishment.”
The governor urged the police to intensify efforts to curb the nefarious activities of criminals by smoking them out of their hideouts and promptly investigate those involved in criminal activities across the state.
He said the state government would avail other security outfits, including the Department of State Services and the armed forces, with the necessary materials and logistics to end the reign of terror unleashed by armed robbers and cultists in the state.
Abiodun was quoted as saying, “I will not hesitate to confirm sentences, even capital punishment, if that will deter these social misfits. Ogun has zero tolerance for criminals and we will deal with them with venomous measures. Enough is enough.”
The governor commended the state police command for its swiftness and obedience of the directive of the state government to flush out those turning the sit-at-home order to a criminal enterprise.
He enjoined other relevant agencies to immediately up the ante of their intelligence gathering to ensure that there was no recurrence of criminal activities, especially as the state continued to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.