Robbery attacks: Nigerians lose sleep, resort to self-help to ward off criminals

Robbery attacks: Nigerians lose sleep, resort to self-help to ward off criminals

With the rising wave of armed robbery attacks recorded especially in Lagos and Ogun State, occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown; Nigerians seem to have lost faith in the ability of the authorities to keep them safe.

In fact, residents in most of the affected areas have now resorted to self-help in keeping their families and neighbourhoods protected. As a matter of fact, 1st News can report that Nigerians in these robbery-prone areas who have lost sleep; as a result of the rising wave of attacks, have now set up vigilance groups as a response mechanism. In addition, the development has also seen the cases of jungle justice rise astronomically.

Worse still, there is an underlying belief that the security apparatus, specifically the Nigerian Police; which is saddled with the task of protecting lives and property is at best overwhelmed; or unable to effectively police the situation which is getting worse by the day.

‘‘We have no choice but to help ourselves,’’ a respondent in Akowonjo told 1st News via telephone. ‘‘If we sit here waiting for the Police, these boys will not only continue to rob and terrorise us; but will also rape our wives and daughters. In my area, we no longer sleep at night. We have formed a vigilance group made up of community members through which we ward off these attacks.’’

Another respondent, who identified himself as Wale Abbas, disclosed that the Police response to the robbery attacks; is, at best, underwhelming.

‘‘Here in Abule Egba, we have experienced several robbery attacks. At first, we were calling the emergency numbers of the Police but many of them are hardly picked up at night. Even when they do pick up, by the time you finish answering the number of questions you might have to answer; the robbers will have gotten to your doorsteps. In some cases, the Police have even accused us of raising false alarms.

‘‘So, we have decided to protect ourselves. After all, the robbers are human beings like us. Every night, we organize ourselves and come out with the few weapons we can gather. Then we take turns to watch and when they come, we raise the alarm for everyone to come out.’’

Robbery attacks

An offshoot of the resort to self-help by residents is an expected rise in extrajudicial killings; as well as the possibility of innocent persons being affected. Already, a number of videos have circulated on social media of suspected robbers who have been caught by residents in some of these areas; with many of them set upon by angry residents, bloodied and battered.

Indeed, 1st News can report that the situation is gradually degenerating into a state of near-anarchy; further fuelling the rise of neighbourhood vigilance groups.

ALSO READ: Police slams false robbery reports in Lagos, Ogun as residents lament insecurity

 In Ogun State, one of the three states in which the initial two-week lockdown declared by President Muhammadu Buhari; was first enforced, it has been almost a war situation.

Robbery attacks

Several communities now live in fear of the rampaging robbers who have turned the state into their stamping ground; despite the tough talk of Governor Dapo Abiodiun. They include the following: Ayede, Ilepa, Ijoko, Ifo, Ibogun, Itori, GudFugba, Ayepe; as well as Agbado communities in Ifo and Ewekoro Local Government Areas of the state. Further, reports reveal that the robbery attacks have spread to other parts of the state; as the hoodlums, emboldened by their near free-rein, continue to operate with impunity.

The situation is hardly different in Lagos where a number of vicinity have also experienced incessant attacks. Residents in Abule Egba, Iju, Akowonjo, Iyana Ipaja, Ajao Estate, Meiran, Agege, Alagbado, Egbeda, Ogba, among others; have been at the mercy of the audacious hoodlums.

Worse still, the robbers have now grown even more daring in their reign of terror and brigandage.

Reports from several quarters indicate that the hoodlums now send notices to neighbourhoods; pre-informing them of attacks and asking for their cooperation. One of such notices was shared on micro-blogging site, Twitter, by a user. The notice, purportedly from a group known as One Million Boys, threatened dire consequences for residents.

‘‘Just in right now we have been given a letter to be at alert that the one million boys will be storming our environment very soon and they have started with Idumu, Agodo, Bucknor and Ejigbo. Please stay indoors if you no get mind. If you get mind come outside with tools #Lagos.’’

Equally important, the situation may get even worse in the coming days.

On Monday, April 13; President Buhari announced an extension of the two-week lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun state by an additional two weeks. The decision had been greeted with groans by a number of Nigerians. Nevertheless, the Federal Government had explained that the continued enforcement of the restriction; was the only way to keep the dreaded COVID-19 in check and flatten the upward curve; which was identified as a source of worry for the government.

Despite the government’s valid explanations, a security expert, Bartholomew Inagbe, says things may get very ugly.

‘‘With the initial two-week lockdown, we have already seen a worrisome rise in insecurity. It is bound to take on an even more dangerous dimension with the extension of the lockdown by the President. Already, the hoodlums behind the rising spate of robbery attacks are getting bolder by the day. Hence, the next two weeks will be a real test for Nigerians and the government.

‘‘It (the lockdown) presents a toxic excuse for lawlessness. Hunger is on the rise and a hungry man or woman is an irrational person. However, in my opinion, the rise of these organized criminal gangs this period; such as Awawa Boys and One Million Boys is not a recent phenomenon. These gangs have been there, robbing and maiming people even when things were normal. However, the lockdown presents a ready-made excuse for their lawless behaviour.

‘‘If not properly handled, I foresee a total breakdown of law and order. In fact, the hoodlums will get more desperate and may no longer wait for the cover of night to operate. Indeed, the government may have no choice than to call on the military to restore order, if the trend continues,’’ he disclosed.

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1 Comment

  1. Lydia

    all this is fault of government. if they had closed borders still and quarantined returnees the disease would not have reached us

    Reply

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