There was panic in some areas of Lagos State, on Thursday, following reports of by hoodlums and cultists on residents. The hoodlums, who initially carried out their nefarious activities at night, since the lockdown directive aimed at preventing the spread of Coronavirus pandemic, have switched to attacking people in broad daylight in some parts of the state. Already, residents of the affected areas have resorted to forming vigilance groups, where they take a turn to keep vigil of their areas. Unfortunately, the hoodlums, who are called No Salary Boys, One million Boys, Omokesari and Awawa Boys, took to the streets in their number, dispossessing residents of cash and valuables. Motorists are also not spared, as the hoodlums barricade the roads, set up bonfires and force them to slow down on approaching the spots. The situation was the same in some parts of Ogun on Thursday.

Affected areas Most areas affected in Lagos are Irepo Estate, Lanre, Akesan, Adexson Ile-Epo, Alhaji Ede, Governor Road in Ikotun, Opeoluwa, Omololu via Aiyenero, Yusuf Esan in Okoko area and Afariogun in Oshodi. Also affected was the Alaba axis along the Mile-2/Badagry Expressway. They were said to have attempted to invade Onimaba Estate in Igando, but residents resisted the invasion with dangerous weapons. Also, residents of Egan and Okerube areas remained indoors over fears of being attacked. A resident, who lives around Lanre Bus-Stop along the LASU-Isheri Expressway, sent a distress text message to his relatives, appealing that security agents should come to their aid. The text message read: “There has been commotion in this area for two hours. Bad boys are parading with cutlasses, molesting people around. “

They collected phones and cash from people. Shop owners have locked up and everyone has run into their houses. Please call security agents.” About 30 minutes later, the resident sent another text message, informing that a joint patrol of police and the military had arrived who ply the affected routes could not make it to the office Thursday, as the hoodlums had taken over the road. At the Iba Low-Cost Housing Estate along the LASU-Isheri Expressway, residents narrated how the One Million Boys attempted to invade their houses, but were repelled. A resident of the estate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “They left when they saw that we were also ready for them. They left and threatened to return at night.” Similarly, at about 4.15p.m., on Thursday, sporadic gunshots rented the air at the Aguda-Surulere area of the state.

A resident, identified as Taiye, said: “We can’t say if the gunshots are from the police or the hoodlums. But we heard that the Police division in Aguda-Surulere was in hot chase of a group of armed boys, who were planning to unleash terror in the area.” It was later gathered that the entire area was brought under control as of 5.30p.m. Police raid criminal hideouts Meanwhile, the Lagos State Task Force in collaboration with Rapid Response Squad, RRS, stormed places such as Magodo, Isheri, Berger, Ojodu, Agege, Egbeda, Oshodi and other others after reported threats by the hoodlums.

The command said so far about 800 suspects had been arrested CP Odumosu reacts In his reaction, the Command’s boss, CP Hakeem Odumosu, however, described claims of the attacks by hoodlums as fake, warning residents against spreading fake news. The CP’s denial is coming on the heels of frustration and anger by residents of these areas, who alleged that the police appear not interested in coming to their rescue, but would rather deny such attacks so that Inspector-General of Police and the state government would not call them to question.

However, advising residents against raising a false alarm, spokesman for the Command, DSP Bala Elkana, said: “Before pressing the forward button or putting that call across, take some time to verify the source of the information. “Avoid being a courier or victim of fake news. Together we will continue to keep Lagos safe.” Police Special Forces, according to him, were strategically positioned and were patrolling the length and breadth of the State. Elkana, however, said: “The Special Forces were last night deployed to Igando, Idimu, Ikotun, Agege, Dopemu, Abattoir, Mangoro, Alakuku, and other parts of Lagos State to provide round the clock patrols.

The teams have clear instructions to deal decisively with criminal elements operating under whatever guise, by the law. The Command will not relent on its efforts in protecting the lives and properties of citizens. “Over 800 members of the gangs and their leaders were arrested and charged to Court. They are still in correctional centres. No criminal gang is capable of unleashing terror on our communities.

We are far bigger and stronger than any criminal elements.” Policemen protest Meanwhile, policemen and other security agents across the country are protesting what they described as neglect and insensitivity of government to their plights in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus in the country. An investigation by Vanguard revealed that some security agents, out of fear of being infected by COVID-19, are shying away from their duties, an action attributed to the vehicular and human movements in most states of the federation.

Some of these security agents, especially the Police, argued that while concentration was targeted mainly at those in the medical sector, the Presidential Committee on COVID-19 failed to provide them (security agents) with hand sanitisers. Some of them, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said since the enforcement of the lockdown directive, the Presidential Task Force Committee did not deem it fit to include them in the palliatives measures to Nigerians, in spite of the risk they faced by interacting with people. A police officer, who craved for anonymity, said: “Most of us still come in contact with people who defy the sit-at-home directive.

We were not provided with hand sanitisers, no face mask and no medical personnel attached to us to check whether any of these people we come across have symptoms of COVID-19. Yet, we are expected to perform magic.” Another officer in the Federal Capital Territory, who spoke with Vanguard said: “Most of us live in satellite areas far from FCT. Yet, we are expected to report to work early, without the provision of any means to convey us.

We have to pay more than four times the actual amount; yet, no one has deemed it wise to reimburse us financially.” Abandon duty posts By way of protesting, Vanguard observed that most security checkpoints manned by the security agents have been abandoned. A motorist, who works in Apapa, said: “I close from work by 10p.m., and have to drive to Ajah. But to my surprise, I discovered that from Apapa down to Ajah, you will only find one police checkpoint at Victoria Island.”

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