ByÂ Olasunkanmi Akoni
RECENTLY, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo after a security meeting with the State Executive Council assured Lagos residents that every measure has been put in place to ensure safety of lives and property in the state even in the last quarter of the year popularly dubbed the â€œember monthsâ€.
But residents of Akowonjo, a semi-urban community within the old Alimosho Local Government Area of the State would want to know if this assurance by the Police boss also applies to them and their area. The reason for this is not far to seek.
The area has in recent times been plagued by a spate of violent crimes, including assassinations and armed robberies with banks, residences, filling stations and other places of interest on the receiving end. In fact, the belief is that Akowonjo hasÂ become the popular haunt of assassins and other criminal elements who unleash terror on the residents usually leaving a bloody trail of death and destruction in their wake.
The bitter tale of the rampage of these harbingers of death in the area included the gruesome killing in August last year of a member of the Editorial Board of Thisday newspapers, Mr. Abayomi Ogundeji. Even while Nigerians were still waiting for the Police to unravel the mystery behind the controversial death of this respected journalist, another journalist, Mr. Bayo Ohu, an Assistant News Editor of The Guardian newspapers was assassinated in his Egbeda home by a six-man gang whose identity is still unknown.
But barely 48 hours after this tragic incident,Â a gang of six armed robbers stormed an Oando filling station located at Akowonjo Roundabout, killingÂ an unidentified man and reportedly carted away an unspecified amount worth millions of naira in the process.
According to eyewitnesses, the armed robbers operating on three Bajaj motorcycles (Okada) stormed the gas station at about 6. 45 pm and started shooting sporadically into the air to scare away people. Four of them were said to have stayed outside to discourage interference while two others were busy relievingÂ the cashier of all the money under his care.
The operation which lasted for about 15 minutes saw everyone within the vicinity scampering for safety as the armed robbers continued to shoot indiscriminately.
The robbers were said to have thereafter escaped on their motor bikes, heading through Dopemu area without any resistance from anybody as the police were nowhere to be found.
As sympathisers were contemplating on which hospital to take the fellow who was shot for urgent treatment, men of the state Rapid Response Squad (RRS) later arrived the scene and accompanied the victim who was then unconscious to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital(LASUTH),Ikeja, for medical attention. He was driven away in a Nissan car with Lagos registration number, ER 381 LND. The victimâ€™s identity could not be ascertained as at the time of writing.
According to an eyewitness, the victim had little chance of making itÂ as he had by this time lost a lot of blood before help came.
Vanguard Metro gathered from one ofÂ the Oando staff who preferred anonymity that the money carted away by the fleeing robbers had been the sales made during the long Eid-el-Fitri holiday and could not be taken for bank lodgment due to unavailability of banking services to members of the public when the armed men struck.
Residents fear this latest attack on the filling station by men of the under world may herald more of such attacks if the Nigeria Police Force does not rise to the occasion by urgently taking steps to stem the spate violent crimes in the metropolis.
Their fear is heightened by the claim thatÂ they have witnessed a lot of killings by robbers and suspected assassins in their area just as they decried the inability of the Police to bring the perpetrators to book.
According to some concerned residents: â€œThe police in Akowonjo need a total overhauling as most of their officers are informants to armed robbers and assassins. My brother we no longer feel safe in this neighbourhood. We call on Governor Babatunde Fashola to come to our rescue without further delay.
â€œOur lives are in danger at every passing minute as security is at level zero. What these policemen are in interested in , in this part of the state is just to arrest traffic offenders and later collect bribe from them. Itâ€™s a total shameâ€.
Earlier, at about 6 pm same day a storey building went up in flames even as passersby and sympathisers watched as it was razed to the ground. Fortunately there was no casualty in the inferno. The building could have been if men of the State Fire Fighter Service had easy access to the street.
The major access road which is in front of Alimosho Local Government Secretariat, Dopemu was blocked off as a result of an ongoing drainage project, said to have being left uncompleted for months. By the time the fire men could gain access to the street, the entire building had being totally brought down.
Akowonjo for the record has a mixed population ofÂ Aworis and non-indigenous peoples and comprises major settlements such as Omititun, Santos, Akowonjo, Egbeda, Alimosho, Shasha, Orisunbare, Banreke, Alabata, Alaguntan. It is bordered by six towns-cum- local government areas, namely: Ikeja, Agege, Mosan Okunola, Egbeda-ldimu, Agbado-Okeodo and Ejigbo.