By Bose Adelaja
The spate of violence in Lagos took another dimension penultimate Thursday when street urchins popularly called Area Boys operating in the Mile Twelve area of Kosofe Local Council Development Area LCDA, engaged officers of the Nigerian Police in a shoot out that left several people injured while goods and property estimated at millions of Naira, were carted away.
The incident which took place around 8 p.m when activities in the ever-busy market were still in top gear, was averted from escalating further by the timely intervention of mobile policemen who were quickly mobilised to quell the uprising. But for their timely intervention, the police station in the area would have been set ablaze by the Area boys.
Vanguard Metro VM, learnt that the street urchins actually came with the intention of torching the Police station. But when their plans failed to materialise, they assuaged their anger by burning two buses parked within the premises of the Police station. On sensing danger to their lives, the policemen attached to the station, allegedly took to their heels and escaped through the back door before the hoodlums stormed the station.
Another person who witnessed the violence told VM that despite the prompt intervention of the mobile policemen, the hoodlums succeeded in pulling down the police station’s fence. The unexpected collapse of the wall, resulted into several injuries to those who were around the station.
Narrating how the violence sparked off, an eye witness told VM that activities were going on in the area when people saw a group of street urchins with gallons of fuel, broken bottles, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons coming from the Ikosi area of the market.
Chanting solidarity songs, the invaders made straight for the police station where they allegedly ransacked everywhere, all the nooks and crannies before challenging the officers to a fight. But that could not be as the [policemen had already escaped from the scene.
Even other uniformed men who were in the bus stop, also took to their heels. Apparently unhappy that their mission could not be accomplished as planned, the hoodlums were said to have shot sporadically into the air before setting a bus parked in the station ablaze and vandalising the other.
While the two buses were being cannibalised, some of the hoodlums headed for Mile 12 Under Bridge where they molested innocent citizens. They dispossessed their victims of cash and other valuable items. Other members of the group went into the market and also carted away goods and property belonging to the traders and those already bought by their customers.
Some traders who spoke with VM said they ran away for their lives leaving their goods in the market until the next day. ‘’Many of us were fortunate; we ran through the bridge but those who went under the bridge were not lucky. Many of them were injured and their cell phones and cash taken away by the street boys,” one of the lucky traders narrated.
Although the cause of the incident could not be ascertained, a source attributed it to the laxity on the part of the policemen. ‘’The law enforcement agents should be blamed because they have refused to provide adequate security in the market and its environs.
On two occasions, the Hausa traders in Mile Twelve have pursued armed robbers but they were allowed to escape by the Policemen. People already know that the Police do not have enough arms. Again, they (policemen) have been engaged in unnecessary romance with the street urchins; we were therefore not surprised that such a thing happened in the Police station. This is not the first time street urchins would overpower the Police; it is a regular occurrence in Mile 12,’’ informed a hawker who identified himself as Bolade.
When VM visited the Police Station around 9a.m on Friday, the officers declined to comment on the incident. Our reporter was also barred from taking any shot at the scene. The female Divisional Police Officer, DPO was tensed up when approached for her comments on the incident.
She said the Police Public relations Officer was in the best position to comment on the development. ‘’The PPRO was here this morning and we have supplied any information you need to know, please contact him for he is the only authorised officer to attend to the press.,’’ she said.
Although the cause of the violence could not be ascertained, as of the time of filing this report,eye witnesses account said it was as a result of illegal transactions between the hoodlums and some Policemen attached to the station. The incident affected traffic activities in the area as commuters were stranded for hours.