*Why they are not on the road
*We are back on duty, CP Odumosu insists
By Evelyn Usman
SOME roads in Lagos State are gradually being taken over by hoodlums, who pretend to be controlling traffic, owing to the absence of policemen. Sadly, the hoodlums end up harassing and extorting motorists, especially at night.
As at yesterday, there was no sight of policemen on Lagos roads, a situation that heightened the already sorry state of traffic situation in Nigeria’s economic capital.
Their presence was not also felt in other South-West states.
However, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, some policemen were sighted patrolling some areas. Officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps , FRSC, and those of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, who were always positioned at strategic areas to control traffic in Lagos, were not seen either.
Most motorists, who drove against traffic to maneuver the traffic , ended up being trapped for several hours. The Oshodi-Apapa expressway was not left out as motorists spent over six hours on a spot without movement.
Working by proxy
Investigation by Vanguard revealed that some of the policemen posted from divisions to man traffic, employed the services of community youths to control traffic in their jurisdictions.
A drive round Ipaja, Idimu, Liasu road, Ikotun down to Cele, confirmed the new method, as some of the policemen were seen in mufti, standing by to watch their errand boys do the job.
However, by 7pm, neither the policemen in mufti nor their errand boys were seen, as they (policemen) returned to man their divisions, in preparation for the curfew.
Policemen in shock
Information at Vanguard’s disposal also revealed that most policemen were still in shock over the unprecedented attacks on them and their stations by hoodlums during the crisis sparked up by the alleged killings of some #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll gate by security agents, last Tuesday.
At the end of the attacks, six policemen were gruesomely killed , 38 others were injured, 48 police formations and 71 vehicles were burnt and vandalized.
The attacks on police stations which apparently took the command by surprise, were also discovered to have demoralized many policemen, who are yet to recover from the impact. Currently, most of them have resorted to wearing mufti to work to avoid being attacked.
Their seeming absence from the roads was also described as a subtle protest to press home their demands for better welfare packages and treatment from their superiors.
Some of them, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, expressed disappointment at the manner the killings of their colleagues were treated by their superiors. For instance, they stated that no senior officer had paid a condolence visit on families of policemen killed by hoodlums.
They also blamed the total overrun of the police stations on lack of back up from the central command.
We were left to die
One of them, an Inspector at the Ajah police division, said: “When the hoodlums came, we engaged them for five hours without any back up until we exhausted our bullets. We were firing into the air to disperse them but they did not relent. If we had a back up, we would have overpowered them. We made calls but there was no response. We were left to die.”
Other policemen corroborated this claim. Another Sergeant said: “We have the Mobile Police Squad. What stops a discerning Police boss to deploy them to stations? We have an anti-riot police unit too but none of them was mobilized to give us back up. We had to face it. Two of my colleagues died in the shoot-out.”
To boost their morale, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, urged all policemen to shake off the impact of the attacks, and directed them to immediately take over the public space.
He consequently, ordered all Assistant Inspectors General of Police, AIGs, Commissioners of Police, CPs, Heads of Police Operational Units, Squadron and Base Commanders in charge of Zonal/State/FCT Commands, the Police Mobile Force, Counter Terrorism Unit and the Special Protection Unit, including Commissioners of Police and heads of Police formations in the various states to mobilize their men and work in sync with the Command CPs in the areas where they are domiciled, to dominate the public space and ensure peace and safety in the affected areas.
CP Odumosu response
Asked why policemen were not on the roads, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, said they were back on their duty posts.
His words: “Our men are fully on the road. We have a strategy of early morning patrol. As early as 5am, Area Commanders patrol their jurisdictions, so that if they (hoodlums) decide to come out in the morning, we would be there before their arrival. It is a strategy that has worked for us
“Policemen in the command are not cowed. Our spirits have been lifted. The Inspector-General of Police has spoken to us and I have spoken to all my men in the command. There is no more issue of fear. We are out. I therefore urge Lagosians to feel free to call on policemen if they have any complaint.
“Even in areas where police stations were burnt, policemen are still there because we are making makeshift offices for them. Security of such areas should not be jeopardized because some miscreants may want to hijack the situation to attack people. We are making chairs, tables and even canopies available. We will not abandon people living in areas where police formations were burnt. We must provide them with security.”
Police uniform in the wrong hands
Odumosu also said efforts were still on to retrieve police uniform and other items looted from police formations. He boasted that the strategy being put in place to achieve this had started working, revealing that five suspected hoodlums had been arrested in connection with the attacks on police stations and some looted uniform recovered.
He therefore admonished Lagosians to be on the look out for more suspects and report them to the Police.