By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
Seventy-two hours after the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, directed members of the force to occupy space to bring an end to the widespread violence in the country, policemen are yet to heed the order.
Investigation carried out in major hot spots and volatile areas showed a noticeable absence of policemen.
Worse still, many of them are yet to walk the streets in uniforms, while all the security measures put in place to safeguard their respective stations, including barricading major busy roads, have not been effected.
More frightening are reports that all emergency calls being made to police stations are barely responded to, prompting a rush by wealthy citizens, corporate bodies and organizations to urgently seek security from private guards and even Oodua People Congress, OPC.
This was sequel to the massive burning, looting and killings carried out by irate crowd masquerading as protesters in many police stations and outposts.
During the bloody attacks, no fewer than five police officers and men were publicly lynched.
Large catche of arms and ammunition was also carted away by the rampaging irate crowd. To make matters worse, members of the force resorted to appearing in public mufti in order to avoid being attacked on the road.
Reports said many of the policemen relocated from their barracks before they were burnt, while those that live outside barracks disappeared with their families for fear of being identified and attacked.
A tour of major flash points by Vanguard reporters in Lagos showed that areas where heavily armed policemen mounted checkpoints are no longer secured as their presence was not noticed.
A drive through major roads in the early hours of yesterday revealed that the policemen avoided their duties posts which, before now, they usually rushed to resume duties .
A commercial motorcyclist told Vanguard in Layeni area of Ajegunle that they had been rejoicing over the continued absence of policemen on the streets as a result of the protests, stating that they now ride freely round the areas without being arrested and extorted.
According to the middle-aged man who simply gave his name as Adamu, ‘’we have been seeing hell in the hands of policemen here. We always bail ourselves with N10,000 each time they arrest us for plying the roads at night and they have been making a lot of money from us.
‘That was why we followed those that attacked their stations and looted the place. They are paying for what they did to us and we have no regret. In fact, during the attack, we saved those that were kind to us but the wicked ones, we dealt with ruthlessly. They are doing this all over Lagos and I hope this attack will make them stop.”
In a sharp contrast, a businessman in Yaba told Vanguard that he was so happy with the order issued by IGP that policemen should occupy space but was disappointed that when he called their hotline that same night, after seeing a group of area boys gathering around their street at Olonade, there was no response.
The situation is the same in many parts of Lagos, especially in remote areas such as Isheri, Idimu, Igando,Ajegunle, Ijora Badia, Iyana-Ipaja, Ikotun, Ihemba- Ilemoro, Okota, Ikorodu, Ojota, Surulere, itire, Cement , and Agege, among others.
At Ilemba Hausa in Ajangbadi, reports said those doing businesses around the police station have not been allowed to operate since last Tuesday.
The road, according reports, is barricaded, with no vehicular or even human movement allowed around the station.
One of the traders, identified as Kayode, told Vanguard that those who sell perishable items were passing through bad times and called on police authorities to allow people do business, even if for limited time.
The situation is the same along the ever-busy Ago-Palace Way, as motorists now have to go through terrible gridlock as a result of the barricade placed on the main road by heavily armed policemen drafted to guard their station.
A community leader in Isheri, Baba Adebowale, also told Vanguard that he was surprised that major traffic points were still unmanned.
“I drove all the way to Ikeja, from Ikotun, and back only to notice that major intersections where traffic policemen are usually positioned to ensure easy flow of traffic were left unmanned. I don’t know if they are afraid of continuing with their duties because of the way they were treated by protesters,’’ he said.
In his reaction, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, told Vanguard: “The development is strategic, we are on the road. Many of them are undergoing treatment. The Commissioner of Police will address the press over the issue.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, yesterday, warned parents, community leaders and market women to reject all suspected looted or stolen items from the looters who wreaked havoc during the recent #EndSARS protest in Lagos.
A statement signed by the command spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi, said the police boss stated that the loots from these hoodlums were the hard-earned property of innocent Nigerians and such must not be found in anyone’s possession, since it was highly criminal.
According to him, in as much as the command keeps on receiving complaints against such criminal acts, the police will go after anyone culpable.
He urged the general public, particularly market women and traders, to disown the hoodlums who had looted people’s items by not patronizing them or receiving such items from them for sales or safekeeping.
The police boss reminded them that criminal cases had no statute of limitation, adding that such cases could still be brought up against anyone involved years after the offense was committed.