• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Armed robbery in Lagos, Benin suburbs on the rise as police continue to stay away

#ENDSARS: Tension grips Abuja residents over near police absence in major streets, areas

Apprehension continues to reign among Lagos and Benin City residents as armed robbery attacks rise on daily basis, especially in the city suburbs, where young men in Lagos, popularly called area boys, stop commercial vehicles and attack occupants with knives and other lethal weapons.

The number of these boys, who operate generally at bus stops and dark spots on major roads in the metropolis, has increased significantly with the absence of security agencies who have stayed away from their duty posts after attacks on their officers and stations during the #EndSARS protest across the country.

To this end, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State on Monday appealed to officers of Edo State Police Command to return to their duty posts in policing the society and maintaining law and order.

Obaseki, who made the appeal during a solidarity visit to the state command headquarters in Benin City, promised to rebuild the burnt police stations, foot medical bills of injured police officers and replace the command patrol vehicles burnt during the protest.

“I was attacked this morning on my way to work shortly after the Badore Bridge on the LASU-Isheri Road. These boys have taken over all spots that used to be police checkpoints. They are there early morning and late night,” said a commuter who introduced himself simply as Taofeek.

Continuing, Taofeek said, “These boys stopped our vehicle; we all thought they were passengers like us. But the moment they entered, they brought out knives and started robbing everybody. Many were dispossessed of their phones and other valuables. It was in my attempt to escape that I sustained these injuries.”

Taofeek’s case is not an isolated one. On Friday, last week, a middle-aged woman, a trader at Under Bridge Trade Fair food market, went home with matchet cuts after she was attacked by robbers operating along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

“These boys, about 10 of them, were just attacking everybody, snatching bags from women and collecting phones from the men. I resisted them when they came for my bag and that was when one of them cut my hand with the knife he was brandishing,” the woman explained.

Lagos residents have cried out to Governor Babatunde Sanwo-Olu to do something urgently to arrest this situation before it gets out of hand.

According to them, it is not enough for the governor to just make promises to the police officers. “The governor needs to walk the talk and he should liaise with the Federal Government to address the concerns of the police,” Segun Madamidola, a social worker, said at the weekend.

Since after the massive destruction that followed the killing of #EndSARS protesters by trigger-happy elements suspected to be soldiers from the Nigeria Army, police officers whose colleagues and stations were destroyed in Lagos and Benin City have decided to stay off the roads, making the environment very unsafe.

Phone call and test message to the Lagos State Police Public Relations Office (PPRO) for comments on what his command is doing or intends to do to check the activities of these miscreants who have become great threats to living and doing business in the state did not yield any result.

Besides armed robbery, traffic situation in Lagos has worsened considerably as motorists, especially mini-bus (Danfo) drivers, are having field day, driving against traffic, dropping and picking passengers anywhere and anyhow, have made the roads both chaotic and unsafe.

Meanwhile, the Edo governor noted that just as many other institutions, the Nigeria Police need reforms and government at all levels have taken necessary steps to make changes and improvements for effective service delivery.

The governor, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the #EndSARS protest that turned violent by the infiltration of hoodlums.

“The EndSARS protesters were not the ones who attacked police stations, injured policemen, and the people who did that were criminals and should be treated as such.

“Yes, we require reforms and that process has already started. The Federal Government has acceded and the state government has set up judicial panel of inquiry to investigate.

“Criminals cannot take over our land. We will go after each and every one of the escaped inmates and we will arrest them. They cannot spend Christmas.

Earlier, Johnson Kokumo, state commissioner of police, said the governor’s visit to the command had lifted the spirit of the officers, and assured the people of a secure and safe environment where crime and criminality are reduced to the barest minimum.

He explained that 11 officers of the command sustained various degree of injuries during the protest, and appealed to the state government to rebuild the burnt stations, replace patrol vehicles and provide succour for the officers injured by the suspected hoodlums.