With a population of 20 million people and just over 30,000 policemen, Lagos State residents have continued to bear the brunt of crime. OLALEYE ALUKO writes on 10 places in the state that have gained notoriety for violent crimes
Against the backdrop of rising spate of criminal activities in Lagos State, the Police Command in the state has identified and warned people about hotbeds of violence just as its 33,000 cops grapple with the daunting task of policing the megacity.
At a briefing on Friday, the police command listed what it called “164 observation points of violence across the state.”
It noted further that not only had it marked out the flashpoints but that the areas had been placed on a 24-hour surveillance.
This has come on the heels of some residents’ call for increased security in the state, following unrelenting assaults from kidnappers, rapists and armed robbers.
The residents’, who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH, called on the police to raid the identified areas in a bid to apprehend criminals tormenting innocent citizens.
Even though the security agency had published a watch list of crime-prone areas, the residents stated that 10 places in Lagos required more police protection and surveillance.
Most of the 10 hotbeds of crimes identified by the residents can be found within the state’s mainland.
Below is SUNDAY PUNCH’s compilation of the top 10 crime spots in Lagos.
Anibaba and Itu Nla (Ikorodu)
In terms of notoriety in the most accomplished American gangster fashion, residents told our correspondent that Ikorodu would be considered as the most infamous area in Lagos State.
Ikorodu, an area located in the north-east of Lagos, close to the Lagoon and shares boundary with Ogun State, has become a vulnerable spot for rapists and kidnappers to thrive. But two areas stand out in Ikorodu: Anibaba and Itu Nla.
These two areas in Ikorodu are notorious for fatal cult clashes. Gunmen suspected to be cultists, in what residents describe as supremacy battles, invade the communities at will and shoot dead their rivals, sometimes innocent residents are caught in the crossfire.
In the last two weeks, according to reports, at least five people were killed following a clash between rival cult groups in Anibaba.
Among the deceased was a 29-year-old job-seeker, Kehinde Omotayo, a fresh graduate of a university in Lagos State.
In one of the attacks, four cultists invaded the area, riding on motorcycles and shot randomly at people in their shops.
A septuagenarian, Mrs. Gbemisola Mumini and her four-year-old granddaughter, Timofe, were hit by bullets in the neck and leg respectively.
Ojelade and Oju Irin (Mushin)
Mushin’s notoriety dates back to the 1980s and residents told SUNDAY PUNCH that the area has not changed for the better as it is considered one of the top ten hotbeds of violence in Lagos.
At the heart of most of the violence in the area are cult clashes, residents said, especially at Ojelade and Oju Irin areas of Mushin.
Our correspondent learnt that hoodlums usually unleash mayhem on the areas whenever they feel like. During attacks, the hoodlums wield cudgels, cutlasses and broken bottles.
Their targets often times, SUNDAY PUNCH gathered, are members of rival cult gangs.
A resident, Akinlade, who spoke with our correspondent, said the police appeared helpless in apprehending the hoodlums because the criminals have the backing of some “powerful politicians” in the state.
Last week, a casual worker, 30-year-old Segun Akube, was shot dead in the area by some hoodlums.
When our correspondent visited the area on Tuesday, the gates to Lawani and Ojelade streets in the area were locked.
“They (the hoodlums) smashed concrete blocks on Akube’s head. Then, one of them shot him dead. They also stole about N70, 000 from his boss,” an eyewitness said.
Igbo Olomu and Isawo (Ikorodu)
Militants dislodged from creeks and the Niger Delta are said to have found solace in Igbo Olomu and Isawo in Ikorodu.
Kidnapping, our correspondent learnt, is their stock-in-trade.
Residents stated that with little or no security agencies’ presence, the militants usually have a field day whenever they creep into the communities to abduct people.
According to residents of the areas, after their operations, victims are spirited away to a creek around Imota.
Following that, family members of the abducted are contacted most times through the telephone to pay a huge sum of money as ransom. The grim alternative often presented by the criminals is that their victims will be killed if their request is not met.
A printing press worker, identified only as Emmanuel, was three weeks ago, abducted by some gunmen as he was about to get into his apartment. Reports noted that he was whisked away to a hideout in Imota.
It took frantic efforts and four agonising days for his release to be secured not by the security agencies but by his relatives who paid the kidnappers an undisclosed amount of money as ransom.
As waves of violent crimes continually hit Bariga, it may not be easy to forget the fine memories that the area used to represent.
Bariga, an area in Somolu Local Government Area of Lagos State, is known to host the oldest secondary school – CMS Grammar School – in Nigeria.
The school was founded in June 1859 by the Church Missionary Society.
Far from being an education bastion of the nation, residents lamented that Bariga had become a blighted area.
A part of Bariga, Ilaje, has taken the area to another level probably not envisaged by European missionaries who sited Nigeria’s first secondary school there.
According to locals in the area, rape, kidnapping and violent cult clashes are the order of the day.
They told our correspondents that hoodlums often lurk around the area in the night to waylay unsuspecting women. Sadly, these women are usually attacked and raped.
Recently, in Ilaje’s Ago Egun community, a lady, only identified as Ibiyemi, and her lover, Ganiu, were attacked by a gang of criminals.
Their attackers swooped on them as they walked home together in the night.
Ganiu was brutally attacked and subdued, while Ibiyemi was raped by the hoodlums.
Two of the assailants were, however, later arrested by the Bariga Police Division, where the matter was reported.
Olodi-Apapa and Ajegunle (Apapa)
Apapa in Lagos is synonymous with ports and terminals. An area in the place – Ajegunle — is famous for producing superstars in the entertainment industry. Ajegunle is also reputed as Nigeria’s ‘ghetto paradise’ where criminals excel alongside good people.
In recent times, supremacy battles between different cult groups, according to locals of Olodi-Apapa and Ajegunle, have become almost a regular occurrence in the area.
More disturbing are the rising cases of reported cases of missing children.
Tolu, Layeni and Ajegunle police divisions noted that reported cases indicated that people in the neighbourhoods were responsible for the kidnappings.
Our correspondent gathered that most of the abducted or missing children have not been found.
Odunfa and Onala (Lagos Island)
As violent crimes considered to be a feature of Lagos’ overpopulated mainland increase, criminals have extended their tenterhooks to Lagos Island, the so-called area of the nouveau riche.
Odunfa and Onala stick out as sore thumbs in terms of criminal activities on the Island as street fights and gangsterism have continued to hold sway in the last three weeks.
Shibiri, a densely populated area in Okokomaiko, Lagos is said to be a den and recruiting camp for criminals.
Locals, who spoke with our correspondent, stated that it is an area where the philosophy of “catch em young” is desperately being applied.
Residents of the area claimed that they had witnessed many times, teenagers robbing people.
Papa and Orile Agege
The twin areas of Papa and Orile in Agege are not lagging behind among Lagos’ expanding territories of crime and violence.
Residents told our correspondents that they live in fear as they watch teenagers who are usually high on drugs commit crimes without any scruple.
AIT Road Alagbado, Afolabi, Obadore (Igando)
According to reports, AIT Road in Alagbado, Afolabi and Obadore in Igando have become battlegrounds for cult groups to engage in violent fights – at least in the last one month.
While Lagos residents grapple with the menacing reality of rising criminal activities in their communities, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said the problem might not be unconnected with some elders in these areas.
“The command has observed incidents of restlessness and impunity by youths in some parts of the state. From our analysis, elders in some of these areas engineer some of these youths to go on the rampage. On the part of the police, we will intensify our efforts to ensure that crimes are reduced to the minimum. In the quest of doing that, we will place policemen at various observation points in Lagos State.
“We have identified 164 locations in the state where observation points have been created. As we approach the end of the year, we want to raise the consciousness of our people to take security as important.”
Speaking on how the police could tackle violent crimes in the state, a security expert, Michael Ejiofor, said the police should employ constant surveillance and patrols.
He said, “The focus should not just be on the black spots. You expect that the police will map out strategies to curtail crimes in every part of the state. Usually at this end of the year, an upscale in crime is expected. The police can do more in terms of sustained surveillance and patrols. Identified black spots should also be closely monitored and the citizenry expected to feed the police with credible information. The security agencies should also advertise their lines in the media so that the public can reach them as quickly as possible in cases of emergencies.”