19th November, 2010
In recent times, there has been a resurgence of armed robbery attacks in LagosÂ State, southwest Nigeria. In the last one month, robbery incidents in the mega cityÂ have become an everyday occurrence and many Lagosians now lie awake all night,Â unable to rest due to anxiety.
Everywhere one goes in Lagos these days, someone has a tale of woe, especially ofÂ armed robbery attacks. After a period, during which the Lagos State government wagedÂ a tireless war against violent crimes in the state through the Lagos State SecurityÂ Trust Fund, STF, armed robbers are here again, leaving anguish and sorrow in theirÂ wake. The STF had fully equipped the police by purchasing for them ArmouredÂ Personnel Carriers, rifles, helicopters, patrol vans and other security apparatus toÂ help them combat crime.
The police took the fight to the robbers. They fought them in banks and otherÂ financial institutions and succeeded in repelling the robbers, who vacated the stateÂ for a while and moved to neighbouring states waiting for the police to drop theirÂ guard.
The police seems to have dropped their guard and the robbers are raiding housesÂ across the metropolis with impunity and smiling home with their loot.
The robbers have now changed their mode of operation. They no longer raid banks andÂ big institutions because they know that the police will match them weapon forÂ weapon.
Robbers now target and raid residential houses, and snatch cars at will. They raidÂ homes and leave tears and sorrow behind. In most cases, before the police get to theÂ scene, they are already gone with their loot, which include cash, GSM handsets, carsÂ and jewellery among others.
Two weeks ago, around 11.00 p.m. at Agbelekale area, Abule Egba, robbers raided andÂ almost killed a man and his family when they returned from a church crusade. As theÂ victim was about to open the gate to his apartment, a gang of robbers suddenlyÂ appeared and shot at the man. He was lucky, the bullet missed him.
An eyewitness said the robbers started shooting sporadically and ordered theirÂ victim to hand over his car keys. In the confusion, he gave the robbers the keys toÂ the gate. The robbers could not open the car’s door with the gate key, and theÂ victim waited for death. He was again lucky because just then another would-beÂ victim drove into the street, which is a cul de sac or close. The robbers wasted noÂ time as they ordered the resident out of the vehicle and fled the scene in his car.Â So, as one resident had a close shave with death and lost valuables, the other lostÂ his vehicle to the marauders.
Less than two weeks ago, a journalist with Cool FM in Ilasa area of Lagos wasÂ attacked by armed robbers in broad daylight. They took all valuables found on her,Â including a Blackberry phone, and then shot her driver.
At New Oko-Oba, Agege area of the state, robbers snatched a car from a woman atÂ Michael Alade Close and escaped with the vehicle and other valuables.
A month ago, an aide to Governor Babatunde Fashola was attacked by robbers. TheyÂ dispossessed him of important valuables and made away with his brand new car. He wasÂ lucky the car had a tracking system. It was recovered but not the other valuables.
Last Wednesday, around 7.00 am at James Iwajomo Street, Olota, Abule Egba, sporadicÂ shooting was heard. The entire street was deserted as people scampered for safety toÂ avoid stray bullets. The police had engaged a robber who snatched a Toyota SiennaÂ from a victim in a gun battle. The episode lasted just a few minutes. It was notÂ certain if the police caught up with the robber and recovered the vehicle.
Two weeks ago on Acme Road, Ogba, armed robbers snatched about N3 million from aÂ businessman and shot him three times in both legs and body. The two-man gangÂ operated on an unregistered motorcycle.
During the incident, it was gathered that the commercial motorcyclist, also known asÂ Okada, whoÂ took the businessman to his destination, was also shot in the left leg.Â The robbers sped off with the money.
An eyewitnessâ€™ account had it that the victim, simply identified as S.K, aÂ residentÂ of Akute, Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, had dropped off the motorbike andÂ wasÂ paying his fare when the robbers suddenly emerged from nowhere.
One of them jumped down from the motorbike, walked to the victim, snatched theÂ bagÂ containing the money, then shot the victim in both legs and body three times.Â Thereafter, the robbers shot sporadically into the air beforeÂ making good theirÂ escape.
It was believed that the robbers trailed the victim, from the bank where heÂ withdrewÂ the money, to Acme road where they attacked him. Both the businessmanÂ andÂ Okada rider were immediately rushed to a nearby private hospital.
Another gang, armed with AK47 rifles, raided several houses in Ketu area ofÂ KosofeÂ local government night, two weeks ago and carted away undisclosed sums ofÂ money.
Witnesses said that the robbers stormed a house located on Demurin Street atÂ aboutÂ 2.00 a.m. and shot sporadically while the operation lasted. They gained accessÂ into apartments downstairs and went from room to room, torturingÂ occupants,Â dispossessing them of their money and shooting some of the residents. TheÂ robberyÂ lasted about an hour. Recently, armed robbers had visited the same compoundÂ and carted away aboutÂ N500,000 from a shop that sells electronic appliances.
Also recently, a man was shot by robbers in the arm as he tried to run from theÂ robbers after he sightedÂ them from a distance. He was rushed to the hospital forÂ treatment.
Less than a month ago, in FESTAC area, a journalist with TheNEWS magazine was robbedÂ by armed men in his residence in an estate. They pushed him down the staircase,Â threatened to shoot him and beat him up. He escaped death by the whiskers, though heÂ sustained injuries. The robbers escaped with cash, a blackberry phone and variousÂ sums of money from tradersÂ around the scene of robbery.
Worried by the spate of robbery, especially during this â€˜emberâ€™ months, FasholaÂ convened an emergency Security Council Meeting to address the thorny issue and findÂ ways to salvage it.
After the meeting, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos Command, Mr. Marvel AkpoyiboÂ assured residents that measures had been put in place to ensure safety of lives andÂ property during the ember months. He stated that the council had come out with aÂ programme of action, just as it did last year to ensure safety of lives andÂ properties during the period.
â€œWe want to enjoin Lagosians to continue to support and collaborate with securityÂ agents. That is the essence of community policing. All hands must be on deck toÂ ensure the safety of all. It takes two to tango. You must furnish us with details ofÂ information about suspected criminals in your locality to enable us act proactively.
â€œWe canâ€™t wait until criminals have operated before crying out. Let us know beforeÂ they carry out their operations. We want to pick them up. That is the essence ofÂ intelligence policing and pro-active policing,â€ he said.
He advised those who park their cars at public motor parks, clubs and other publicÂ places to apply additional security measures such as locating a reliable trackingÂ company to install a tracking system in the vehicles which would assist the policeÂ to track such a vehicle if stolen.
Akpoyibo said the police intercepted some arms recently, adding that â€œthis has to doÂ with information gathering. On our own, we have our own strategies. You can alsoÂ furnish us with additional information so that we pick them up before they attackÂ innocent citizens. It is true that we intercepted some arms a few days ago. It wasÂ based on information we received and we succeeded in recovering all the arms and 21Â fully loaded magazines.â€
In a determined bid to fight crime in the state, the Chinese Consulate in LagosÂ recently donated 10 Jincheng security motorcycles to the state government to beef upÂ security. According to Fashola, his administration was committed to its mandate ofÂ zero tolerance for crime. He stated that criminals in the state must be overtakenÂ and brought to justice, adding that his administration would continue to invest inÂ security and always be ahead of the criminals.
â€œThe investment in security does not end. The criminals are daily devising newÂ strategies and plotting new ways to achieve their aim. We must be ahead of them; weÂ must overtake them and bring them to justice,â€ he stated.
Urging other organisations to donate to the Stateâ€™s Security Trust Fund, theÂ Governor declared, â€œCrime is a global phenomenon which has no boundaries. If thereÂ is crime in anywhere in the world, it affects other parts as well. So it is in ourÂ enlightened interest to fight crimeâ€.
The governor pointed out that â€œeveryone is a stakeholder in the issue of security.Â Lagos residents must be vigilant at all times, especially during the coming festiveÂ season, and report any suspicious movements to the security agencies through the 767Â and 112 free toll lines.â€
Experts had said if the battle against crime must be won at this period, the onusÂ rests on the government to engage pro-active measures by adopting grassrootsÂ community policing. By this the various Community Development Associations are usedÂ to survey their environment because they know where the robbers live.
â€œGovernment must not continue to celebrate and live in the past by saying that theÂ crime rate in Lagos had dropped by 79 per cent. As at now, that rate is no longerÂ tenable. Fashola must brace up and work assiduously to secure the state againstÂ these dare-devils,â€ said an observer.