Barely a week after gunmen suspected to be Niger Delta militants and oil vandals invaded Imushin, a sleepy community in Ogun State, killing about 15 villagers, two other border communities between Lagos and Ogun states; Elepete and Igbo Olomu in Ogijo area of Ikorodu were again attacked by armed men. By the time the smoking guns of the attackers ceased firing, about 30 persons were feared killed and scores injured. The attack took place on Thursday night/ early hours of Friday.
In the latest attack at Elepete and Igbo Olomu, it was learnt that several of the victims were landlords who had formed a vigilance group due to incessant armed robbery attacks in their areas, made bonfires at strategic points and were on patrol when the militants swooped on them.
The militants, who were said to be returning around 11pm from the creeks where they had allegedly gone to perpetrate their illegal business, opened fire as they arrived at Elepete after they mistook the vigilance group, for law enforcement agents.
As the victims fled, the militants chased them and rained bullets on the defenceless villagers. By daybreak on Friday, no fewer than 30 dead bodies were reportedly recovered from various points, while most of the residents had fled the communities for safety.
Dead bodies everywhere as residents flee
Another source in one of the communities said the militants had accused the villagers of giving in­formation to security operatives about their illegal activities. The hoodlums were said to be angry at the way joint security operatives took over the area, preventing them from carrying out their criminal acts.
A community leader, John Ogunike said “Some of our relatives were slaughtered like ram. Mr Isioluwa Angus and his wife Rosemary were slaughtered with knife. Some of the victims were shot at close range while some were hit by stray bullet.
“At the Lagos State side, five Police patrol vans were used to evacuate 20 dead bodies. In Ogun side ,we don’t know how many people lost their lives, but, information reaching me showed that many dead bodies have been discovered .Ogun State people are yet to evacuate the bodies on their own side.
“We are relocating from this community. Everybody is scared. Even the neighbouring communities are also running away because, no one knows his fate. It happened last week at Ibeshi, Imushin and no one suspected they would storm our area. Who knows the next place they will go tomorrow as they have vowed to wipe out communities within this axis. We are begging the government to come to our rescue”
As at the time of filling this report, people were still fleeing the communities.
Soldiers and Policemen have, however, been drafted to the area. Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, and his deputies were also in the area for on the spot assessment.
Disputing the casualty figure, Owosenis Ogun State counterpart, said only two persons were confirmed dead. The Public Relations Officer of the state command, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said only two persons were killed by suspected militants who have been laying siege on the communities.
He said:“Two people have been confirmed dead. The militants came again and attacked the community. We will only continue to work collectively with all relevant agencies to stop the attacks. They came yesterday (Thursday) and attacked and went back to the creeks.”
Militants’ spread of terror
Penultimate Friday night of June 17, 2016 was a black night in Imushin community, Ogijo area of Ogun State. It was a night about 100 gunmen suspected to be Niger Delta militants invaded the community on the boundary between Lagos and Ogun states, in a shooting spree that left 15 of the residents cold dead.
Among the 15 killed in the attack was a technician, Waheed Buhari, aka Yah Alau, said to have been shot dead in front of his room, with one of his children, Mariam, sustaining bullet wounds.
Also included was a travel agent, Mr. Oladele Ogundare, who had just returned home in his car, when the rampaging militants opened fire on his car and killed him.
Another victim, Umoru, who was said to be eating noodles, was chased, hacked and shot to death, along with a friend, Danladi.and a Muslim cleric killed when the mosque in the community, was attacked.
Two hotels were reportedly raided and their customers robbed and injured, while more than 25 shops in the community were looted by the rampaging beseigers.
As families of the slain victims thronged graves to bury their relations according to Islamic rites last weekend, there were no doubts as to the criminal motives and na­ture of the siege. Although many of the residents, said the militants were suspected to be Ijaw youths involved in pipeline vandalism, especially in the creeks and riverine areas, who were probably on a revenge mission for the killing of two of the vandals earlier on Friday by some operatives of the State Anti- Robbery Squad, it was another orgy in the increasing bloody raids and assault on Yorubaland by the ex-militants, who seemed to have shifted shop from the South South and the South East to the South West enclave in their daring criminal ventures and exploits.
At least that appears to be the reading of the South West leaders of the latest and series of violent crimes perceived to have been committed by the militants, especially after security intelligence linked some Ijaw militancy and criminal syndicates’ kingpins to high profile robberies and kidnappings that made waves in the last one year.
Ahead of a peace meeting between leaders of the Ijaw nation, who are at pains distancing their people from the heinous acts, and Afenifere, the pan Yoruba socio cultural organization, the latter, has sounded a note of warning that it would not tolerate further any de­spoliation of its people from any quarter.
There have been growing strong indications that Niger Delta ex-militants as well as militiamen made jobless as a result of demobilization and reported cut in the budget of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty office in the last one year have invaded the South West, especially, Lagos, Ogun and Ondo States and are responsible for the various recent acts of kidnappings, robberies and other criminal activities in the region.
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 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, Chief 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).
Impeccable security sources said available intelligence suggested that some of the ex-militants, whose source of livelihood was lost after President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled the pipeline protection contracts, were responsible for the recent upsurge of crime particularly in Lagos State.
A senior DSS official confessed that the police and other security agencies were 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 the pipelines during former Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, in addition to returning to pipeline van­dalism and illegal oil bunkering in the coastal areas of the South West, notably Arepo, Ikorodu, Ilaje and Ogun waterside also turned to kidnapping and robberies to make money. “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,” a security chief said in an interview.
Since President Buhari did not renew the contracts awards. the states in the South West have witnessed robbery attacks and upsurge in violent crimes between last year and now.
The heightened situation, observers note, can be explained by the heat of deployment of troops to curtail resurgent militancy in the Niger Delta region, which may have forced more of the hoodlums out to seek safer haven in the West.
There have also been several cases of robberies and kidnapping, including the abduction of wife of the Deputy Managing Director/ Deputy Editor-in Chief of the Sun Publlishing Limited, Steve Nwosu, two photojournalists of The Sun and The Nation newspapers and others in Festac area of Amuwo Odofin Local Government area, with the abductors said to have often made their escape in speedboats and through waterways and canals, lending to the suspicion that they were militants. The latest was the abduction of three schoolgirls from the Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu,
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 the militants in a gun duel.
The sites of the militants’ latest strike -Elepete and Igbo Olomu are not too far from Imushin.
In the latest attack, at Elepete and Igbo Olomu, a source within one of the communities, who spoke on the condition of anonimity, said several of the victims were landlords.
However, the police said only two persons were confirmed dead.
The Public Relations Officer, Ogun State Police Command, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said only two people were killed by suspected militants who have been laying siege on the communities.
He said, “Two people have been confirmed dead. The militants came again and attack the community. We will only continue to work collectively with all relevant agencies to stop the attacks. They came yesterday (Thursday) and attacked and went back to the creeks.”
Adejobi added that the police would fish out the criminals. – The Sun.