The Lagos State Police Command has arrested no fewer than 130 suspects in connection with the unrest and attacks by hoodlums in various parts of the state during the lockdown.
This followed PUNCH Metro’s story that residents of some communities in Ogun and Lagos states had turned themselves into vigilantes to resist attacks by hoodlums, including the Awawa Boys and One Million Boys, among others.
The hoodlums had taken advantage of the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic to dispossess unsuspecting members of the public of their valuables.
Areas affected by the onslaught launched by the hoodlums in Lagos are Capitol Road, Amowo, Dopemu, Oko-Oba, Maroko, Abule-Egba, Ogba, Ejigbo and Agege.
In a bid to curb the attacks, youths formed themselves into vigilante groups and reportedly clashed with some of the hoodlums, creating tension in some of the affected areas.
An injured resident of Abule-Egba, Abass Babatunde, told our correspondent on Monday that about 20 hoodlums were about to attack the Baale of Olota around 2am when the vigilantes intercepted them, adding that he was injured in the process.
Babatunde stated, “We were attacked in Ekoro, Abule-Egba; we were on guard duty when one Ibrahim and Ajongolo mobilised about 20 hoodlums to attack the Baale of Olota. So, we went to defend him and in the process, I was attacked with cutlass and received machete blows in the head, hands and other parts of my body.”
The Baale of Olota in Agbado Oke-Odo, Daniel Ajibose, said, “I was in my palace around 2am, because we had constituted ourselves into a vigilante group to prevent the hoodlums from attacking us. All of a sudden, I saw about 20 hoodlums moving to the front of my palace and they started attacking us with cutlasses. But the residents came to my rescue and the hoodlums injured about eight of them.
“I had to call the DPO, Oke-Odo Police Station, who sent policemen to rescue us. I don’t know why the hoodlums decided to attack me in my palace.”
However, the suspects, made up of 123 males and seven females, who were arrested by police personnel from the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Panti, Yaba, and the New Oko-Oba, Oke-Odo, Abattoir and Maroko divisions, were paraded at the command headquarters, Ikeja.
The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said the suspects took advantage of the border towns connecting Lagos and Ogun states, adding that they were arrested in connection with the unrest in the state and for violating the lockdown order.
Odumosu stated, “This thing started about three days ago, when miscreants in Ogun State decided to act above the law. They tried to push their luck into Lagos State through the border towns, but we got the information early enough and deployed sufficient personnel of the command in the border towns and that made them not to infiltrate Lagos.
“In the past, whenever these miscreants came to Lagos to attack residents, they go back through the border towns and this had always created tension. So, people living in Agege, Alakuko, Meiran, Alagbado, Iju and Iyana Ipaja areas that are close to Ogun State started panicking and a lot of posts were circulated on the social media that were purely fabricated lies and that generated a lot of tension.
“So, since they feel that the miscreants were coming to attack them, they took the law into their own hands to defend themselves by mobilising themselves and this created more tension. Up till this moment, there has not been any report of anybody being robbed, or raped, or houses and vehicles being burnt or vandalised.”
Odumosu added that he had gone round to restore confidence in the affected areas, but urged the residents not to take the law into their own hands.
He stated that all the suspects would be charged on Tuesday.
Reacting to allegations by residents of the affected areas that Divisional Police Officers failed to respond to their distress calls, Odumosu stated, “They are allegations, but when we went out, some people actually said they called one or two DPOs, who did not respond, but that might just be an excuse by them, because there have not been reports or complaints to me that any DPO did not respond.
“However, there may be an element of truth in the allegations. All the DPOs have been seriously warned and to complement that, I have actually given out my own numbers so that if there is any complaint from any quarter, they should call me directly.
“But, the DPOs have also been warned and very soon, we are going to give out the numbers of all the DPOs in the command to the media so that if any of them is called and the person refuses to take action, necessary disciplinary action will be taken against them.”