…as robbers, rapists hold residents hostage
By IFEOMA IKEM
Residents of Festac Town and Amuwo Odofin areas of Lagos were shocked on Tuesday as armed robbers ran amok as they stormed two commercials banks, killing two people – a mother and daughter – in the process.
National Daily learnt that a combined team of operatives of the State Anti-Robbery Squad, (SARS), uncovered an arms depot in the neigbourhood recently.
The raid by operatives of the SARS followed series of petition to the state police helmsman to CP Fatai Owoseni by concerned, unsafe and worried residents of the area following sudden increase in violent crime.
Most shocking was not the recovery of seven sophisticated assorted weapons belonging to hoodlums, but a policeman was killed by the miscreants; a situation that threw the FESTAC community into a state of fear and insecurity.
The policeman said to be brutally murdered was stabbed at 7th Avenue, same area where the robbers’ armoury was located. Before then, it was gathered that hoodlums had taken over FESTAC a hitherto quiet and peaceful settlement a few months ago. All that changed, as Mallam Sani Ahmed, a resident said the police seem to be sleeping as hoodlums now derive joy at dispossessing people of their valuables. He explained that Road 51, Road 41 by Rochester hotel, Road 122; 7th Avenue, Road 23 market and other areas of FESTAC are been terrorised by criminals. “If the robbers can visit mayhem on the residents during the day, one can best imagine our plight during the night. We sleep with one eye open,” he added.
The sudden increase of unmonitored brothels, night clubs, parks and unauthorized cyber café has further compounded the crime rate. ‘Before, these places have existed but were heavily monitored by the police and kept under close watch; so criminals had no hiding place in FESTAC,’ noted Mrs. Chinye John, who also lamented the negative influence such brothels and night clubs have on young females in the area.
Investigations revealed that some of these brothels serve as home for dare devil robbers, cult members and other criminals. Besides, India hemp and other hard drugs are freely used as some ladies of the night are employed as front by the criminals.
Apart from the increase in crime rate, drug barons, fraudsters, kidnappers and rapists with sustained attacks are prevalent in FESTAC. Corroborating that, Anamelichi Joe revealed how a notorious drug baron that was nabbed was eventually released by the police at the Area E Command. ‘We thought the arrest of the drug baron, would bring some respite to the area while the police hands him over to the NDLEA. Amazingly, the baron was released and the large quantity of drugs found on him was not accounted for. His release has emboldened other drug addicts, sellers and dealers to find home in FESTAC at the risk of not only our kids but the safety and security of our lives and the area,’ Anamelichi said.
Another source who did not want his name mentioned, recounted how bank customers have been victims of the robbers. ‘You cannot use the ATM to execute any transaction at night. That person is very vulnerable to being robbed. Robbers in FESTAC now demand for ATM cards when they come to rob. This is because they have all the time to stay at ATM machines that are located outside bank premises to juggle numbers and do trial and error till they get the four figure password to run their victim’s account red.’
Jimoh Abdullahi, on his part recounted how a banker customer was attacked, wounded and robbed at 51 Road in broad daylight by some robbers. The banker was attacked at a vulnerable area; at FESTAC link-bridge.
Another popular wine seller was robbed of N1million after he was trailed from a nearby bank. It was also learnt that the accountant of Rockview Hotel was trailed by robbers on Okada. He was lucky to escape as his car was riddled with bullets. The smart accountant had taken another route on a bike to his hotel office.
The youth leader in FESTAC, Mr. Gbenga Akinbinu, who also doubles as the state and national levels of the organization lamented the decay that the town has degenerated into. “Our roads are bad, poor infrastructural development, lost vast areas of land to speculators, and now the place is infested with common criminals, prostitutes, drug barons, armed robbers, kidnappers and hired killers, all in just one community. How long can we endure this onslaught and the police in the area are turning blind eyes.
A notable businessman in Alaba was shot in FESTAC and his SUV with registration number GGE 183 AY still lying at the Area Command bullet ridden.
Last week, operatives of the State Anti-Robbery Squad, (SARS), it was learnt that they engaged some robbers and other criminals following incessant reports and the inability of the area command to tackle the high level of criminality in the area. The raid started at 2.00am. The operation led to the arrest of several suspects and the seizure of over 400 motorbikes used by the robbers.
Fola told our reporter that, ‘FESTAC was sitting on a keg of gun powder, Road 23 Market is now a den of robbers’.
What has irked Fola is the criminal conversion of a patrol van bought by the community to ensure effective patrol of the area. It was gathered that the new vehicle was converted to the personnel use of the area commander, even as an official vehicle is attached to his office.
The command anti-robbery squad has complained severally of lack of vans to embark on effective patrol of the area.
The incessant clashes between the police and Okada operators; and the police and Keke Marwa operators have been traced to the uncompromising manner of the operators who attack the police on the understanding they greased the palms of the police and so must them be. ‘We settle the area command as to allow us operate without hindrances, how would they have the moral justification to keep on arresting us after we have settled them,” he queried.
Fola disclosed that large number of uncompleted buildings, abandoned vehicles, increased number of commercial vehicle and motorbike operators and the questionable approach of the police area command added impetus and emboldened the criminals.
Bunkering, rapists and cult activities are major crimes that have reared up their ugly heads in FESTAC. Several calls to the area commander, Frank Mba, ACP were not answered.