Armed Robbers Back In Lagos

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In recent times, there has been a resurgence of armed robbery attacks in Lagos  State, southwest Nigeria. In the last one month, robbery incidents in the mega city  have become an everyday occurrence and many Lagosians now lie awake all night,  unable to rest due to anxiety.

Everywhere one goes in Lagos these days, someone has a tale of woe, especially of  armed robbery attacks. After a period, during which the Lagos State government waged  a tireless war against violent crimes in the state through the Lagos State Security  Trust Fund, STF, armed robbers are here again, leaving anguish and sorrow in their  wake. The STF had fully equipped the police by purchasing for them Armoured  Personnel Carriers, rifles, helicopters, patrol vans and other security apparatus to  help them combat crime.

The police took the fight to the robbers. They fought them in banks and other  financial institutions and succeeded in repelling the robbers, who vacated the state  for a while and moved to neighbouring states waiting for the police to drop their  guard.

The police seems to have dropped their guard and the robbers are raiding houses  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 and  big institutions because they know that the police will match them weapon for  weapon.

Robbers now target and raid residential houses, and snatch cars at will. They raid  homes and leave tears and sorrow behind. In most cases, before the police get to the  scene, they are already gone with their loot, which include cash, GSM handsets, cars  and jewellery among others.

Two weeks ago, around 11.00 p.m. at Agbelekale area, Abule Egba, robbers raided and  almost killed a man and his family when they returned from a church crusade. As the  victim was about to open the gate to his apartment, a gang of robbers suddenly  appeared and shot at the man. He was lucky, the bullet missed him.

An eyewitness said the robbers started shooting sporadically and ordered their  victim to hand over his car keys. In the confusion, he gave the robbers the keys to  the gate. The robbers could not open the car’s door with the gate key, and the  victim waited for death. He was again lucky because just then another would-be  victim drove into the street, which is a cul de sac or close. The robbers wasted no  time as they ordered the resident out of the vehicle and fled the scene in his car.  So, as one resident had a close shave with death and lost valuables, the other lost  his vehicle to the marauders.

Less than two weeks ago, a journalist with Cool FM in Ilasa area of Lagos was  attacked by armed robbers in broad daylight. They took all valuables found on her,  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 at  Michael Alade Close and escaped with the vehicle and other valuables.

A month ago, an aide to Governor Babatunde Fashola was attacked by robbers. They  dispossessed him of important valuables and made away with his brand new car. He was  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, sporadic  shooting was heard. The entire street was deserted as people scampered for safety to  avoid stray bullets. The police had engaged a robber who snatched a Toyota Sienna  from a victim in a gun battle. The episode lasted just a few minutes. It was not  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 a  businessman and shot him three times in both legs and body. The two-man gang  operated on an unregistered motorcycle.

During the incident, it was gathered that the commercial motorcyclist, also known as  Okada, who took the businessman to his destination, was also shot in the left leg.  The robbers sped off with the money.

An eyewitness’ account had it that the victim, simply identified as S.K, a  resident of Akute, Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, had dropped off the motorbike and  was paying his fare when the robbers suddenly emerged from nowhere.

One of them jumped down from the motorbike, walked to the victim, snatched the  bag containing the money, then shot the victim in both legs and body three times.  Thereafter, the robbers shot sporadically into the air before making good their  escape.

It was believed that the robbers trailed the victim, from the bank where he  withdrew the money, to Acme road where they attacked him. Both the businessman  and  Okada rider were immediately rushed to a nearby private hospital.

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Another gang, armed with AK47 rifles, raided several houses in Ketu area of  Kosofe local government night, two weeks ago and carted away undisclosed sums of  money.

Witnesses said that the robbers stormed a house located on Demurin Street at  about 2.00 a.m. and shot sporadically while the operation lasted. They gained access  into apartments downstairs and went from room to room, torturing occupants,  dispossessing them of their money and shooting some of the residents. The  robbery lasted about an hour. Recently, armed robbers had visited the same compound  and carted away about 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 the  robbers after he sighted them from a distance. He was rushed to the hospital for  treatment.

Less than a month ago, in FESTAC area, a journalist with TheNEWS magazine was robbed  by armed men in his residence in an estate. They pushed him down the staircase,  threatened to shoot him and beat him up. He escaped death by the whiskers, though he  sustained injuries. The robbers escaped with cash, a blackberry phone and various  sums of money from traders around the scene of robbery.

Worried by the spate of robbery, especially during this ‘ember’ months, Fashola  convened an emergency Security Council Meeting to address the thorny issue and find  ways to salvage it.

After the meeting, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos Command, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo  assured residents that measures had been put in place to ensure safety of lives and  property during the ember months. He stated that the council had come out with a  programme of action, just as it did last year to ensure safety of lives and  properties during the period.

“We want to enjoin Lagosians to continue to support and collaborate with security  agents. That is the essence of community policing. All hands must be on deck to  ensure the safety of all. It takes two to tango. You must furnish us with details of  information about suspected criminals in your locality to enable us act proactively.

“We can’t wait until criminals have operated before crying out. Let us know before  they carry out their operations. We want to pick them up. That is the essence of  intelligence policing and pro-active policing,” he said.

He advised those who park their cars at public motor parks, clubs and other public  places to apply additional security measures such as locating a reliable tracking  company to install a tracking system in the vehicles which would assist the police  to track such a vehicle if stolen.

Akpoyibo said the police intercepted some arms recently, adding that “this has to do  with information gathering. On our own, we have our own strategies. You can also  furnish us with additional information so that we pick them up before they attack  innocent citizens. It is true that we intercepted some arms a few days ago. It was  based on information we received and we succeeded in recovering all the arms and 21  fully loaded magazines.”

In a determined bid to fight crime in the state, the Chinese Consulate in Lagos  recently donated 10 Jincheng security motorcycles to the state government to beef up  security. According to Fashola, his administration was committed to its mandate of  zero tolerance for crime. He stated that criminals in the state must be overtaken  and brought to justice, adding that his administration would continue to invest in  security and always be ahead of the criminals.

“The investment in security does not end. The criminals are daily devising new  strategies and plotting new ways to achieve their aim. We must be ahead of them; we  must overtake them and bring them to justice,” he stated.

Urging other organisations to donate to the State’s Security Trust Fund, the  Governor declared, “Crime is a global phenomenon which has no boundaries. If there  is crime in anywhere in the world, it affects other parts as well. So it is in our  enlightened interest to fight crime”.

The governor pointed out that “everyone is a stakeholder in the issue of security.  Lagos residents must be vigilant at all times, especially during the coming festive  season, and report any suspicious movements to the security agencies through the 767  and 112 free toll lines.”

Experts had said if the battle against crime must be won at this period, the onus  rests on the government to engage pro-active measures by adopting grassroots  community policing. By this the various Community Development Associations are used  to survey their environment because they know where the robbers live.

“Government must not continue to celebrate and live in the past by saying that the  crime rate in Lagos had dropped by 79 per cent. As at now, that rate is no longer  tenable. Fashola must brace up and work assiduously to secure the state against  these dare-devils,” said an observer.

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