All hope seems lost for residents of Ikorodu area of Lagos, following repeated cases of kidnapping and robbery by suspected militants. The community had hoped that after the military air and land raids in July 2016, and the demolition of some shanties in the creeks this week, sanity will be restored. Reality dawned on them when days after the raid, the militants resumed attacks, this time more aggressive than in the past.
t left out in the line up of victims are security personnel, who have been repeatedly killed in their numbers. More worrisome now is an intelligence indicating that the militants are planning fresh attacks in Lagos and Ogun, with schools as specific targets.
The threat from the militants is however top on the agenda of a meeting by South-West governors, who are scheduled to meet in Abeokuta, the Ogun State Capital on Monday.
It would be recalled that the militants widely known to be notorious for vandalising Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines, decided to extend their criminal activities to kidnapping and robbery. As far back as 2013, they successfully invaded banks in Lekki, Festac and Ikorodu areas of Lagos in broad daylight, till they were curbed and some of their top commanders either killed or arrested. Thereafter, they concentrated their efforts on kidnapping and robbing houses close to the creeks.
Although the police have been able to nab some of their top leaders in the creeks, Saturday Sun gathered that efforts are geared towards picking up the current commander, popularly known as Ossy, who is still on the run.
It was gathered that Ossy who is currently hiding in Ondo State is still co-coordinating most of the major kidnap and robbery operations in Lagos State.
Embittered by Federal Government’s refusal to grant him amnesty, he ordered his boys to unleash hell on communities surrounding the creeks till his voice is heard.
The most recently reported attack led to the death of six security personnel who had gone to rescue victims abducted by militants at Isawo, a community in Ikorodu. It was gathered that the hoodlums in the area killed the security men in an ambush.
Residents, victims cry for help
Pleading for a quick intervention, residents and some victims have called on the authorities to help restore sanity in the community.
One of the victims simply identified as Ms. Bisola, a 52-year-old-woman, said she was abducted by the militants two weeks ago from her apartment at Isawo. “They attacked the area that very day and were robbing houses, but when they got to our house, they felt we had money. I even explained to them that if I was rich, I would have left the area, but they refused.
“It was when we got to the boat that I saw about four other persons that were also picked that night. Initially, we entered a speedboat, after about five minutes ride; they transferred us into another boat. It took almost two hours to get to the bush, where we were kept”, she narrated
“When we got there, they separated us. I later got to realise that there are different groups in that bush. The gang that picked one man and I were different from the others. They warned that if we attempt to escape, we will die, because the whole creek is filled with militants. I was lucky that the group that picked us was only after money and they do not rape their victims. At night, you will hear the screams from other women from other camps and when we ask them what was wrong, they will tell us that the boys were having sex with the women. It’s horrible and I do not wish that they will pick my enemy. I was released three days later after my family managed to pay them N700, 000”, she recalled.
Another victim, Chief Samson told Saturday Sun that his house at Ikorodu is up for sale, because of the activities of militants. “It was when they picked me up the second time that I knew it was time to either relocate to another part of Lagos, or return to my village in the east. Initially, I thought the media was blowing the matter out of proportion till they visited me and I never believed that they will dare leave houses close to the creeks and attack some of us living close to Agric bus stop.
“It was a horrible experience. They beat me up mercilessly and dragged me into a waiting bus. They drove through Isawo to the creeks and you cannot believe that there was no policeman on patrol. We were about six picked up that very day. I was released the next day, when my family gave them N2 million. A week later, they came back for me”, he recounted.
Recalling his experience in the creeks, Samson said they were not blindfolded throughout their stay in the bush. “I was not blindfolded and those boys did not bother to hide their faces. They were brandishing their AK47 rifles and told us that any security man that dared to rescue us will be embarking on a suicide mission. They are everywhere and heavily armed. They only fed us with rice and water. Those heartless criminals sexually abused the lady in our midst; no woman should pray to fall into the hands of kidnappers.
“I tried to chat with one of them and he told me that kidnapping is more lucrative these days than pipeline vandalisation. They lamented that the number of marketers that usually patronise them has reduced. This is because of the presence of the military around the routes that they normally take to bring out the stolen product.
“I asked them if they are not afraid of being caught and he told me that they are more armed than most of the security men on duty. Most of their people, who were caught, were picked up outside the creeks.”