By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor, Evelyn Usman, Omeiza Ajayi, Bose Adelaja, Bashir Bello, Aliu Dangida & Luminous Jannamike
The Presidency expressed concern last night when informed that policemen have still not returned to the streets despite violence engulfing most of the cities in the country.
A Presidency source said the Inspector-General of Police was the right person to respond to the issue of escalating insecurity in the country.
The source said: “Since the IGP gave his men directive to assert themselves on the streets, he is in the best position to ask his men why they have not responded.”
However, different parts of the country were gripped by all sorts of violence, yesterday, leaving people scared.
Clashes erupted between hoodlums and cultists leading to losses of lives and destruction of properties, while looting continued in different parts of the country.
This came as concerns were raised over absence of policemen at their duty posts in major cities in the country.
In Abuja, scores of armed hoodlums, yesterday, invaded the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Orientation Camp in the Kubwa area, carting away mattresses, utensils, electronics and other items. One person was reportedly shot in the groin during the invasion as hoodlums looted the facility.
While the warehouse at the camp was said to be empty, the hoodlums attacked some residents at the camp as well as shops adjacent to the camp. They blocked the road at around 9a.m., turning back motorists while the Kubwa village market was immediately shut by its managers to avoid invasion by the hoodlums.
While soldiers and a detachment of the Nigeria Police struggled to ward off the invaders, the Nigerian Air Force and the Air Wing of the Nigeria Police, embarked on air patrol with helicopters hovering over the scene.
The ensuing confusion forced some parents and guardians to evacuate their wards from schools in the area. Reports said though the hoodlums were armed with jack-knives, sticks, machetes and other dangerous weapons, some residents of the area had earlier joined in the looting.
An eye-witness who declined to give his name said the hoodlums “carted away all removables such as cooking pots, ceiling fans, plasma TV, foodstuff, desktop computers and laptops in NYSC camp.”
According to him, some of the looted items were owned by private individuals residing at the NYSC camp.
“The hoodlums equally used the opportunity to loot computers, generators, textile materials in shops directly opposite the NYSC entrance gate,” he added.
READ ALSO: #EndSARS protests: Inflation may rise if looting continues — Economist
Meanwhile, NYSC Director-General, Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, said the scheme was not responsible for the storage of COVID-19 relief materials, insisting that the CACOVID palliatives couldn’t have been found in any of its camps nationwide.
Hoodlums invade Kuje
Meanwhile, Kuje town, headquarters of the Kuje Area Council in Abuja was also thrown into confusion as hoodlums, armed with sticks and knives blocked roads and patrolled the streets in search of any warehouse housing the COVID-19 palliatives.
A source told Vanguard that they have been going about with sticks, blocking roads within the town while shops were locked and passers-by ran for their safety.
Attacks at Ikorodu
In Lagos, miscreants popularly called ‘Area Boys’ took to the streets in Ikorodu axis, brandishing harmful instruments and sending people in the affected areas into panic.
Another incident occurred at Owode/Mile 12 axis, Ikorodu Central and Isiu. While the crisis raged, an unidentified body was found at Owode area. The incident at Owode/Mile 12 incident reportedly occurred following the looting of Covid-19 palliatives in the axis which spurred the local vigilance team into action.
In the process, two suspects were apprehended and handed over to the Police. However, some colleagues of the arrested suspects regrouped and took to the streets, unleashing terror on motorists and passers-by. An eyewitness said the attack extended to the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, corridors, where some of the buses were vandalized.
It was gathered that vehicle owners had to abandon their vehicles and fled. Shops and business places were not spared as the miscreants looted business places while owners of the businesses ran for safety.
It was gathered that many people were injured in the process. A resident of the area, Alhaji Abudugafar Odurinde said he had to abandon the day’s activities and return home.
“I went to Owode- Onirin to see my uncle when suddenly; the miscreants took to the streets with matchetes and guns. My uncle and I had to suspend the conversation and went into hiding,” he stated.
Vanguard gathered that based on the development, owners of BRT have concluded plans to withdraw their buses pending when normalcy returns to the area.
Panic at Laketu
Similarly, residents of Laketu, Ikorodu, Lagos, yesterday, were thrown into panic, following information that there may be a major clash later in the day to mark seven days of their members, who were murdered at Lekki toll gate, last week.
At press time, shop owners in the axis hurriedly closed for the day in apprehension of the clash. It was also gathered that there was pandemonium in Isiu community in the area after some land grabbers invaded the area to unleash terror on residents. Scores of residents were said to have been injured while some fled the area to avoid being caught up in the clash.
Following the fracas, which occurred among some miscreants in Owode-Onirin/Mile 12, Lagos State, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, has directed the Area Commander, Area H, Ogudu, and other operational outfits especially the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, and Task Force to beam their search light on the axis with the aim of restoring normalcy to the area.
Odumosu, who attributed the clash to two factions of gangsters at Adekunle area, said they started the clash at 8a.m., for reasons best known to them.
According to him, the command would put in place mechanisms to sanitize and maintain law and order in the area. While normalcy has returned to the area by press time, the panic in Laketu, Ikorodu was heightened following a clash by miscreants.
In a similar development, there was pandemonium in Orile area of Lagos State, early yesterday, following a clash between some miscreants suspected to be cultists. An unconfirmed report has it that one person was shot dead at Alagba area where the crisis took place. Eyewitnesses said gun-wielding young men were seen on major streets in the area ready to resist any attack from the cultists.
A resident told Vanguard that the crisis lasted till the evening hours and during the period, no single policeman was sighted.
Abductors strike in kano
In Kano, unknown gunmen abducted Aishatu Aliyu, wife of the village head of Tsara in Rogo Local Government Area of the state under Karaye Emirate council.
The council’s information officer, Haruna Gunduwawa, in a statement yesterday confirmed the incident.
Gunduwawa, who quoted a report presented to the Emir of Karaye, Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar II, by the District Head of Rogo Wambai-Karaye, Alhaji Muhammadu Mahraz, said, unknown people in their numbers stormed the house of the village head at 1a.m., on Friday and took away his wife to an unknown destination.
He said the abductors shot several times into the air to scare away villagers and many were forced to pass the night in the bushes for safety.
According to him, up to the time of presenting the report to the Emir, the whereabouts of Aishatu Aliyu was not known.
“The District Head notified the Emir in the report that people in Rogo district are living in fear following rising cases of kidnapping explaining that within two months, four cases were recorded.”
“The Emir pleaded with security agencies to take urgent security measures that will stop the rising tension in the emirate and enjoined his people to devote more time to prayers.”
When contacted, spokesperson, Kano State Police Command, Abdullahi Haruna, promised to get back to Vanguard.
Wife of Vigilante head kidnapped in Jigawa
Similarly, there was pandemonium and anxiety among the inhabitants of Galamawa, Limawa and Kachi quarters in Dutse Local Government Area of Jigawa State, following the kidnapping of wife of a Deputy Commandant of the Nigeria Vigilante Group (name withheld).
The incident occurred on Sunday night when a group of people suspected to be kidnapers stormed the residence of the Deputy Commandant, Mr Abdullahi Suleiman, asking for the whereabouts of the head of the family.
Luckily, the Deputy Commandant escaped through the backyard of his house.
A source at Galamawa quarters, who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said the kidnappers came in their numbers and when they could not find him, they abducted his 50-year-old senior wife with one of his children.
It was learned that a combined team of security personnel pursued them and they abandoned the child and went with the wife.
At press time, the abductors were yet to reach members of the family. It was gathered that the abductors targeted the Deputy Commandant following alleged killing of two of their members by the vigilante personnel in one of the raids.
READ ALSO: EndSARS: NHRC condemns killing of Police officers, others
The Public Police Relations Officer, Abdu Jinjiri confirmed the incident and assured that police and other security agencies were working day and night to ensure a successful release of the victim.
Contacted, the State Commandant of Nigeria Vigilante Group, Umar Salisu explained that his personnel were working with the police to trace the whereabouts of the abductors in order to save the life of the house wife.
Following these developments, there is palpable fear amongst the populace as a result of absence of policemen and other security agencies in the troubled spots in the country. This is contrary to a recent directive by the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Muhammed that they should occupy space and restore normalcy in their areas of operation.
Apprehensions as police abandon duty posts
Investigation by Vanguard showed that in virtually all the spots where crisis erupted, Policemen and other security agencies failed to respond to distress calls made by affected victims.
It was gathered that it was only the military which tried to save the situation in some cases, raising fears and apprehension that the police may have abdicated after the recent #EndSARS protests in major cities in the country that led to loss of lives, burning and looting of police stations.
It was observed that in Lagos State and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, most streets and major flashpoints have continued to witness the absence of policemen, including traffic controllers.
Worse is that many of them have been operating without their uniforms.
They have restricted their operations to their respective offices while makeshift tents have been erected for officers and men at burnt police stations.
As at press time, the situation was still tense as no noticeable efforts have been made as distress calls were not being responded to.
A police source told Vanguard that the situation may take time to improve because many officers and men were downcast over the way they were treated during the riots that followed #EndSARS protests.
“If the authorities are serious that we should occupy space, let them tell Nigerians what they provided to improve the ugly situation. Most of us whose stations were burnt now operate from low-quality make shift tents. There are even stations without guns now. How do you expect us to respond if they attack again? Do you expect us to go on patrol with our vehicles or on foot?”
When contacted, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Hakeem Odumosu said that policemen had returned to their duty posts across the state, allaying fears over their disappearance since the attacks on police stations and killing of some policemen by hoodlums, who hijacked the #EndSARS protest last week.
It was also learned that make-shift offices had been created for policemen whose stations were burnt to enable them carry out their constitutional responsibilities.
Briefing journalists at the command headquarters, Ikeja, Odumosu, said: “Our men are fully on the road. We have a strategy of early morning patrol. As early as 5a.m., Area Commanders patrol their jurisdictions, so that if they (hoodlums) decide to come out in the morning, we would be there before their arrival. It is a strategy that has worked for us.
“Policemen in the command are not cowed. Our spirit has been lifted. The Inspector-General of Police has spoken to us and I have spoken to all my men in the command. There is no more the issue of fear. We are out. I, therefore, urge Lagosians to feel free to call on policemen if they have any complaint.
“Even in areas that were burnt, policemen are still there because we have provided make shift offices for them to be present there. Security of such areas should not be jeopardized because some miscreants may want to hijack the situation to attack people. We are making chairs, tables and even canopies available. We will not abandon people living in areas where police formations were burnt. We must provide them with security.”