Hoodlums spread panic in Lagos….Security agents protest, abandon duty posts
….Over 800 culprits arrested in Lagos —Police

By Mike Ebonugwo, Evelyn Usman, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Esther Onyegbula

LAGOS—THERE was panic in some areas of Lagos State, yesterday, following reports of attacks by street urchins and cultists on residents.

The hoodlums, who initially carried out their nefarious activities at night, since the lockdown directive aimed at preventing the spread of Coronavirus pandemic, have been brazen to attack their victims in broad daylight in some parts of the state.

Already, residents of the affected areas have resorted to forming vigilante groups, where they take turns to keep vigil on their areas.

Unfortunately, the hoodlums, who are called No Salary Boys, One million Boys, Omokesari and Awawa boys, took to the streets in their numbers, dispossessing residents of cash and valuables.

Motorists are also not spared as the hoodlums barricaded the roads, set up bonfires, which forces them to slow down on approaching the spots.

The situation was the same in some parts of Ogun State yesterday.

Affected areas

Most areas affected in Lagos are Irepo estate, Lanre, Akesan, Adexson Ile Epo, Alhaji Ede, Governor road in Ikotun, Opeoluwa, Omololu via Aiyenero, Yusuf Esan, in Okoko area and Afariogun in Oshodi.

Also affected was the Alaba axis along the Mile-two Badagry expressway.

They were said to have attempted to invade Onimaba estate in Igando, but residents resisted the invasion with dangerous weapons.

Also, residents of Egan and Okerube areas remained indoors over fears of being attacked.

A resident, who lives around Lanre bus-stop, along the LASU-Isheri expressway, sent a distress text message to his relatives, appealing that security agents should come to their aid.

The text message read: “There has been commotion in this area for two hours. Bad boys are parading with cutlasses, molesting people around. They collected phones and cash from people. Shop owners have locked up and everyone has run into their houses. Please call security agents.”

About 30 minutes later, the resident sent another text message, informing that a joint patrol of Police and the Military had arrived.

Some Vanguard staff, who ply the affected routes could not make it to the office yesterday, as the hoodlums had taken over the road.

At the Iba low-cost housing estate along the LASU-Isheri expressway, residents narrated how the One Million Boys attempted to invade their houses but were repelled.

A resident of the estate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “They left when they saw that we were also ready for them. They left and threatened to return at night.”

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Police raid criminal hideouts

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Taskforce in collaboration with Rapid Response Squad, RRS, stormed places such as Magodo, Isheri, Berger, Ojodu, Agege, Egbeda, Oshodi and others after reported threats by the hoodlums.

CP Odumosu reacts

In his reaction, the Command’s boss, CP Hakeem Odumosu, however, described claims of the attacks by hoodlums as fake, warning residents against spreading fake news.

The CP’s denial is coming on the heels of frustration and anger by residents of these areas, who alleged that the Police appeared not interested in coming to their rescue, but would rather deny such attacks so that Inspector General of Police and the state government would not call them to question.

But advising residents against raising a false alarm, spokesman for the Command, DSP Bala Elkana, said: “Before pressing the forward button or putting that call across, take some time to verify the source of the information. Avoid being a courier or victim of fake news. Together we will continue to keep Lagos safe.”

Elkana, however, said: “The Special Forces were last night deployed to Igando, Idimu, Ikotun, Agege, Dopemu, Abattoir, Mangoro, Alakuku, and other parts of Lagos State to provide round the clock Patrols. The teams have clear instructions to deal decisively with criminal elements operating under whatever guise. The Command will not relent on its efforts in protecting the lives and properties of citizens.

“Over 800 members of the gangs and their leaders were arrested and charged to Court. They are still in correctional centres. No criminal gang is capable of unleashing terror on our communities. We are far bigger and stronger than any criminal elements.”

Policemen protest

Meanwhile, policemen and other security agents across the country are protesting what they described as neglect and insensitivity of government to their plights in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus in the country.

An investigation by Vanguard revealed that some security agents out of fear of being infected by COVID-19, are shying away from their duties, an action attributed to the vehicular and human movements in most states of the federation.

Some of these security agents, especially the Police, argued that while concentration was targeted mainly at those in the medical sector, the Presidential Committee on COVID-19, failed to provide them (security agents) with hand sanitizers.

Some of them, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said since the enforcement of the lockdown directive, the Presidential Taskforce Committee did not deem it fit to include them in the palliatives to Nigerians, inspite of the risk they faced  interacting with people.

A Police officer, who craved  anonymity, said: “Most of us still come in contact with people who defy the sit-at-home directive. We were not provided with hand sanitisers, no face mask and no medical personnel attached to us to check whether any of these people we come in contact with have symptoms of COVID-19. Yet, we are expected to perform magic.”

Another officer in the Federal Capital Territory, who spoke with Vanguard said: “Most of us live in satellite areas far from FCT. Yet, we are expected to report to work early, without the provision of any means to convey us. We have to pay more than four times the actual amount; yet, no one has deemed it wise to reimburse us financially.”

Abandon duty posts

By way of protesting, Vanguard observed that most security checkpoints manned by the security agents have been abandoned.

A motorist, who works in Apapa, said: “I close from work by 10 pm and have to drive to Ajah. But to my surprise, I discovered that from Apapa, down to Ajah, you will only find one police checkpoint at Victoria Island.”

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.