Ex-militants, militiamen invade Lagos

There are strong indications that jobless Ijaw/Ilaje ex-militants as well as militiamen may have invaded Lagos, and are responsible for the various recent acts of kidnappings, robberies and other criminal activities in the state.

Impeccable sources in the police and the Department of State Services, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH on the condition of anonymity, said available intelligence suggested that some of the ex-militants, whose source of livelihood was lost after President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled their pipeline protection contracts, were responsible for the recent upsurge of crime rate in the state.

A senior DSS official told Saturday PUNCH that the police and other security agencies had been finding it difficult to control the proliferation of firearms in the possession of the ex-militants.

It was learnt that some of the ex-militants and militiamen responsible for protecting pipelines during former Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had turned to kidnapping and robberies to make money.

He said, “Since abduction seems to be profitable and less risky, jobless ex-militants and militia group members seem to have found a lucrative business in the kidnapping of hapless citizens.”

Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had awarded contracts to six companies to guard pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

The pipeline security and surveillance contract, said to have been worth N9.3bn, was carried out between March 15 and June 15, 2015.

The pipeline surveillance contract was awarded to companies owned by former Niger Delta militants, self-determination groups and prominent Nigerians including Government Tompolo Ekpumopolo, Mujaheedin Asari-Dokubo, Ateke Toms, Bipobiri Ajube and Ebikabowei Victor Ben (Boyloaf).

Others are the company of the founder of Oodua Peoples Congress, Fredrick Fasehun and OPC national co-ordinator, Gani Adams.

The operational areas for the companies were: Egbe Security River One (Bayelsa), Gallery Security (Mosinmi-Ore), Close Body Protection (Edo), Adex Energy Security (Rivers), Donyx Global Concept (Lagos and Ogun), Oil Facilities Surveillance (Delta) and New Age Global Security (Mosinmi-Ibadan).

However, President Buhari did not renew the pipeline protection contracts awarded to OPC and other militia groups by the Jonathan administration.

Lagos State has witnessed series of robbery attacks between last year and now.

There have also been cases of kidnapping, the latest being the abduction of three schoolgirls from the Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu, on Monday.

A gang of robbers on Wednesday, June 24, 2015, attacked two new generation banks in the Ikorodu area of the state.

The robbers were said to have trailed a bullion van to the premises of one bank in the Ogolonto area of the town before moving to another bank after they were done with the first.

The police reportedly engaged in a gun battle with the robbers but they managed to escape via a speedboat after burning the vehicle which conveyed them to the scene of the crime.

Also, no fewer than 40 armed robbers invaded two commercial banks in Festac Town, Lagos, on October 13, 2015, reportedly carting away a huge sum of money.

About 20 armed robbers, wearing military camouflage also attacked five banks in Agbara Industrial Estate in Ogun State in November last year.

Also, detectives attached to Igando Police Station on Iba Road, Lagos State, recently arrested two men who they alleged had just arrived from Niger Delta via the waterway to carry out a bank robbery. The suspects, identified as Chinedu Okoro and Keme Patrick, were said to have been planning the robbery for Friday of that week.

According to security sources, one of the strong points of the development is that the assailants are heavily armed because of the proliferation of arms in the country.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Olabisi Kolawole, could not be reached for comments on the efforts being made by the police to apprehend and disarm ex-militants and other crime gangs across the country….

Copyright PUNCH.

Abductors of Lagos students behind past killings of security operatives, bank robberies

Last Monday’s abduction of three female students from their hostel at the Babington  Macaulay Junior Seminary (BMJS), Ikorodu,  has exposed the inability of security agents in Lagos State to curb the activities of pipeline vandals operating in the Arepo, Ogun State, close to Ikorodu, Lagos.   The vandals who are mainly militants from the Niger Delta, had held sway for a long   time in the area and it’s environ as they masterminded the vandalism of pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and siphoned the contents within Arepo. They are also behind the incessant bank robberies in Lekki, Ikorodu, Festac and Agbara areas of Lagos and Ogun States, during which they carted large sums of money and killed   several residents including policemen.

Impenetrable camp 

Security sources disclosed to Crime Guard that the vandals led by one General Ossy, may be keeping the school girls in one of    their camps, known as Fatola camp in Arepo which   has served as a fortress to the militants for a long time. Security agents including policemen, DSS NSCDC, Navy etc who had attempted to invade the camp in the past were ambushed and killed in the process   thereby making it a no-go-area for security personnel.

Investigations conducted by Crime Guard revealed   that the vandals had resorted to kidnapping following the recent clamp down on top members of the gang by operatives of the Inspector- General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT,   after they carried out series of bank robberies.   They were said to have invaded the school which is owned by the Lagos Anglican Dioceses, shooting indiscriminately  before abducting the school girls who were in their hostel preparing for test.     The vandals who left the scene in an SUV were said to have also abducted a middle-aged staff of MTN   within Arepo on the same day and a ransom of N4.5million was paid before he was released by 3am, two days later.

Attack at Owutu Model school   Residents   of the area told   Crime Guard that the vandals had, a week ago, invaded Government Senior   Model College in Owutu, Ikorodu , and attempted to kidnap some students but   were repelled   by the   house master who refused to allow them gain access into the student’s hostel.     It was reliably gathered that the boys were asleep when the armed men invaded the premises and were making frantic efforts to gain access into the hostel through one of the windows when the house master identified simply as Mr. Hector, came out from his room to challenge them.

Attack on House Master

He was said to have initially mistaken the suspects to be students of the college from the main hostel block until he was ordered to open the hostel for them “to choose the number of boys” they wanted. Sensing danger, the house master reportedly refused but little did he know that the invaders were more in number. According to our source, “the house master was subsequently manhandled and mercilessly beaten up with plank and other weapons during which his hands were tied with rope. He was abandoned on the suspicion that he was dead.

However, the male students in the hostel who had earlier been woken up by his cry of anguish during the encounter with the invaders made attempts to unlock the door and troop out, but it was gathered that even in his state, the house master was shouting and asking the students not to come out. The suspected kidnappers later left the premises through the same route they had come in without the school security men at the main gate knowing what was going on. Few seconds after, the fleeing invaders reportedly fired gun shots possibly to ward off any confrontation.

Difficulty in stemming operations of vandals

The renewed efforts by the vandals to abduct defenceless civilians for ransom has exposed the inability of security operatives to completely stem their operations.   Some security operatives   who spoke with Crime Guard   highlighted that vandals could no longer carry out large scale bank robberies   like what they did in   March 2013, when they raided a bank in Lekki, killed three policemen and two civilians and carted away large sum of money.  In November, 2015, the same gang struck at a bank in Agbara area of Ogun State, killing two mobile policemen and carting away large sums of money. In June 2015, the vandals raided banks in Ikorodu, carting away unspecified amount of money.

It was   gathered that the robbers attacked the banks located at Ipakodo- Ebute, near Ogolonto in Ikorodu. They were said to have used speed boats in accessing the community after which they raided the two banks in the area. While the police were busy spreading their dragnets to track the fleeing bandits, no fewer than forty members of the gang invaded two banks at 4th Avenue, Festac area of Lagos state few weeks later and carted away huge sums of money. A nursing mother and her child were killed during the operation.

Previous encounter

Crime Guard investigations revealed that previous clashes between security operatives who had attempted to invade the strong hold of the vandals recorded many casualties on the part of the security operatives. In May 2014, nine Policemen attached to the Inspector-General of Police Special Anti  Vandalism were kidnapped and killed by the vandals when they attempted to visit the scene of a pipeline explosion in Arepo pipeline, Ogun State.   The policemen were said to have boarded a canoe and were last seen heading into the creek. Their corpses were yet to be recovered as at the time of filling this report.

 Litany of woes

In the same vein, in January 2015, three officials of   Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, were killed while 10 others sustained severe injuries when they had a confrontation with the vandals in Abule Ishawo and Tappa areas of Ikorodu, close to Arepo. The 10 officials who survived the attack were rescued by a reinforced team comprising the military and NSCDC   operatives. After that incident, the vandals chased some NSCDC officials who escaped from the scene to Owutu Police Station where they ran into and opened fire on some policemen on guard, killing two on the spot while two other civilians were also killed.   The vandals were said to have carted away four Ak47 rifles from the police station before escaping.

Massacre of SARS, DSS teams

Few days after, the vandals struck at four banks in Ijede and Ipakodun areas of Ikorodu.  Some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, were deployed to Ikorodu to combat the menace of the robbers, but in one of their operations, four of it’s operatives were ambushed and killed and their corpses were taken away.    Subsequently,   in September 2015, nine operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, were killed while they attempted to rescue a kidnapped victim from the hands of the vandals.

The vandals were said to have ambushed the operatives at Konu, a border town Arepo, Ogun State while tracking a telephone number used by the vandals in negotiating the ransom between the victim’s relative. The corpses of the operatives are yet to be recovered as at the time of filling this report.

Futile efforts

So far, efforts by both the state government and security agencies in the state to end the activities of the vandals have been stalled owing to lack of proper synergy. Investigations by Crime Guard also revealed that the families of the abducted school girls may end up paying ransom for their safe release as it may be difficult for security agents to attempt to rescue the girls owing to the seemingly impenetrable camp the gang uses. They easily overwhelm security operatives who appear helpless.

Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/03/revealed/


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