Senator Ibikunle Amosun
Adeola Akinremi and Sheriff Balogun write that incessant robbery attacks and kidnappings have wrecked havoc on many families in Ogun State, forcing residents to leave the state for safe havens in Lagos
Those who gathered at La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra, Ghana, last month, where Senator Ibikunle Amosun walked on the red carpet and stepped up to the podium like a gallant leader to receive his award may not be conscious of events in Ogun State. At the event, he was awarded the Most Security Conscious Governor in West Africa.
“Today in Nigeria, Ogun State is ranked among the first three most secure states,” Amosun declared to his audience. “This achievement has been made possible by the support of our security agencies, the cooperation of the good people of Ogun State and their determination to rid our environment of all forms of criminality.”
But, that was not the reality. As Governor Amosun was walking with his shoulder high on the red carpet in Accra, the dare devil robbers busied themselves, unleashing their reign of terror on the residents of Ogun State at the three senatorial districts that make up the state.
On Sunday, October 21, barely 24 hours after Security Watch Africa pronounced Amosun the most security conscious governor in West Africa, armed robbers attacked World Oil located in Ibafo community within the state. They left behind them tales of woes and tears. The robbers killed four people, including two policemen and left many people badly injured before they carted away huge sums of money. Incidentally, no reinforcement came from Ibafo Police Station, which is less than a kilometre away from the scene.
The next day, on Monday, October 22, a 15-man robbery gang invaded the Apostolic Church Mission House, Ijemo-Agbadu area of Abeokuta, the state capital around 1.45am. In a shooting spree that lasted for about an hour, they killed three policemen and injured two other residents of the area.
The Resident Pastor of the church, Pastor Jacob Adeotan told reporters that the robbers held the residents of the church hostage while the operation lasted.
He said: “As you can see, they broke the burglary proof, gained access into many apartments before ransacking them. They operated for about 45 minutes, and engaged in sporadic shooting when the police patrol team arrived.”
According to an eye witness account, the activities of the robbers caused many houses in the area to be riddled with bullets. Three vehicles parked on the roadside were also damaged with bullets. The occupants of the mission house church stated that the attack was the third in its series carried out by the robbers on the mission.
In an admittance of truth and lack of capacity, Ogun State Police Command Spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi confirmed that over 300 used bullet shells were recovered from the scene.
“The gang had before the Ibafo and Abeokuta incidents snatched an SUV jeep in which, they attacked an hotel located at Abiola Way before heading to the Apostolic Church vicarage at Ijemo Agbadu area of the town where they killed the three policemen, injuring two others,’’he said.
According to Adejobi the robbers were professionals who had positioned themselves at different corners before the rescue team ran into their barricade.
Earlier, on Saturday, 13th October 2012, at about 2.am the same gang of robbers was believed to have robbed a senior journalist at Anglican Road in Otta, where they forcefully gained entry into his compound.
‘For several minutes they had been outside firing guns at the gate and attempting to gain entry. After several gunshots to scare neighbours, they scaled over the high security fence by cutting the barbed wire with bar cutter. On gaining entry, they shot ‘Terry’ an Alsatian guard dog which unaccustomed to that mode of entry into our house had resisted them.
Several bullets caught the dog in the stomach and it died instantly. The night watchman was the next target. On spotting him they pumped several bullets into his room. And to ensure that he was really dead, an order was given to locate his body and pump more bullets.
The robbers continued with their display of gunfire, exhibiting much confidence and dexterity in the use of the dangerous arms, they began to rain bullets on the cars in the compound using AK 47, pump action rifles and other guns. At the end, five people were killed including my own brother-in-law,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, a former sub-editor with the Guardian.
Meanwhile, On Wednesday, October 31, one of the 20 local governments in Ogun State, Ado-Odo/Ota was reportedly lost a sum of N1.6 million to armed robbers who ambushed the local government personnel and the car taking the money to the local government.
On Sunday, November 18, the former chairman of Ikeja Local Government in Lagos State, Mr. Toyin Hamzat was assassinated in the state. According to the police command, the late Hamzat was said to be returning from his country home in Aiyepe, Ogun state when he was attacked on the expressway around Sagamu.
Again, on Monday, November 19, armed robbers also killed two policemen in the state during a robbery operation. The dead policemen had responded to a distress call from Fulani herdsmen who had been attacked by the robbers at Olodo International cattle market in Ayetoro local government area of the state, about 30km from Abeokuta, the capital city.
The robbers were said to have fired at the policemen as soon as they sighted the police patrol vehicle, resulting in their death.
Two other policemen on the police patrol team were also seriously injured and were rushed to the hospital. The robbers were said to have succeeded in robbing the cattle rearers of an undisclosed large sum of money.
And on Wednesday, November 21, at about 3.am a gang of robbers woke some Agbado residents with sporadic shooting when they stormed Akera, Oyetedo and Oluosun streets. They robbed no fewer than seven houses and carted away valuable worth millions.
In the months before October, several lives have been reportedly lost in the state to robbery operation. For instance, on Monday, August 21, a gang of robbers attacked the palace of the traditional ruler of Akinale town in Ewekoro local government area of the state. The robbers carted away some money and jewelry belonging to the monarch’s wife. The four robbers who were fully armed stormed the palace in a Mazda car at about 5.30pm. They laid siege around the palace for a while, and gained easy access into the palace as the gate was unlocked.
Also, on Friday, May 11, 2012, burglars gained entry into the Internal Revenue Service offices in the state at about 2am and carted away a huge sum of money.
An employee of the agency who pleaded anonymity said that about N20 million naira was in the vault prior to the robbery.
Numbering about 5, the robbers reportedly broke into the offices through a window of the building, which is situated less than a quarter of a mile away from the office of the governor.
Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi confirmed the incident also, stating that the police arrested the guards who were on duty when the burglary occurred.
Also, in Papa Olorunda Victorious Community in Obafemi Owode local government area of the state residents of the area have raised the alarm over incessant robbery attacks.
In another manner, a 200 level student of the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Wunmi Adebayo was killed in her boyfriend’s house in Ijebu Ode. The incident took place at the Golden Estate, Ibadan Road, Ijebu Ode recently.
‘Wunmi, an English student of the institution, visited her boyfriend to spend the night with him when a four-man armed robbery gang gained entry into their house through the kitchen door.
The robbers did not spare the state government house as attempts by a four-man robbery gang to steal a car at secretariat Abeokuta was recently foiled by the police.
The robbers arrived at the secretariat in the morning in a Nissan Quest with registration number BK 944 RSH in an attempted mission to steal a Toyota Camry car with registration number AKM 146 AA.
The saving grace was that the owner of the vehicle had parked it behind the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology that was close to Amosun’s office.
The robbery cases in the state was not restricted to house to house attack but extended it to the banking industries. Sometimes, in February this year, suspected armed robbers attacked the Ijebu-Igbo branch of Wema Bank Plc.
A day after, a similar attack was recorded on a branch of the bank in Ilaro where two security guards were injured.
The hoodlums also raided the Sapida Microfinance Bank in Ijebu East Local Government. In the attack on the microfinance bank, the bandits, six in number, stormed its premises shot sporadically and again left their victims badly injured.
In another scene, a bank worker, a student and a policeman were in February killed when daredevil armed robbers struck at the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB) Micro-Finance Bank.
The bandits held customers in the bank hostage, shot straight at the people in the bank and killed a female staff of the bank and a male student of UNAAB. A policeman was also killed when he was trying to run away for his life after driven into the bank premises.
In response, Governor Amosun has been procuring security equipments that includes armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and guns for the security agencies in the state, but crime wave continued unabated.
Now, the memory of the robbery attacks keeps haunting some victims of the incident in the state.
THISDAY can authoritatively confirm that some residents of Ogun State have abandoned their houses in the state to rent flats in Lagos in what they described as lack of commitment to safety of lives by the state government.
One of such people who now resides in Ikeja area of Lagos said, “Ogun state government has not demonstrated commitment to the protection of lives. The day armed robbers invaded our house, the police say there is no road to arrive at our house. I am also aware that there are a few patrol vehicles in Ogun State. The APCs governor Amosun is talking about cannot move faster like the patrol vehicles. I just think he’s talking and not working.”
Another former resident of Ogun State who works with a bank said: “I had to move from Ijebu to Lagos. The attack left my family devastated and the shock will be there forever. The robbers killed my sister right before my nose.”
Recently, after a traumatic experience in the hands of kidnappers, a billionaire, Mr. Segun Oyebolu, closed down all his businesses in Ijebu-Ode town of the state and made arrangements to relocate abroad.
Mr. Oyebolu was kidnapped and held captive for four days. He had to part with a huge sum of money to regain his freedom.
In the same vein, a Senator’s mother was kidnapped in Ogun State and the wife an Osun lawmaker who was kidnapped earlier was found in the state.
It is not clear what strategy the state government has, especially at this Yuletide season when crime wave is known to increase, but in Ogun State there is fear of the unknown and residents are no longer at ease.