The Lagos State Police Command yesterday said it had begun a massive clampdown of all armed security guards, adding that already, five of such local guards had been arrested at Egbeda and Isheri Osun areas in the state.
The suspects were identified as 50-year-old Ojo Ayodele; Rasheed Adekunle, 60; Musibau Gbadamosi, 60; Ayomide Ibile, 32; and Kehinde Jimoh, 42.
Their arrests were based on the directive by the newly appointed state Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, who said the move was to retrieve all illegally acquired arms in the hands of vigilantes in the state.
According to the police, the move was necessary based on its discovery that some members of the vigilante group were involved in robbery, ritual killings and kidnappings across the state.
Edgal, while addressing journalists during his maiden press conference held at the state command officers mess, Ikeja, labeled the suspects notorious armed robbers who have been terrorising members of the public in recent times.
He said the police recovered one automatic single barrel gun, four locally made double barrel rifles, 22 live ammunition and two expanded cartridges.
Imohimi said the five notorious suspects were arrested based on intelligence report from members of the public on the criminal activities of the gang.
He said: â€œOn September 6, 2017, based on information received on the criminal activities of the gang, detectives from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police moved to Egbeda around3a.m.
â€œDuring the raid, five suspects were arrested. One automatically rifle, four locally made rifles, 22 live ammunition and two expended cartridges were recovered,â€ he said Stressing that the law does not allow local guards to bear arms, Edgal said double and single barrel rifles are only licenced for hunting and not for security duties.
He noted that anybody, under any guise found to be using fire arms, aside that which it is licenced for, would be made to face the wrath of the law.
But in a swift reaction, those arrested said the rifles found on them were given to them by the chairman of their landlord association in Egbeda.
One of the suspects, Ojo, said they were shocked when they were raided by the policemen, who according him, have been working hand in hand with them.
He said: â€œI am a member of the Oodua Peopleâ€™s Congress (OPC). Rasheed Adekunke and I were contracted by the landlord association as guards when crime in the area was on the increase.
â€œThey were the ones who bought the rifles for us and it was licensed. I am not an armed robber like they claimed but guards working to make a living for my family.â€
Kehinde Jimoh, another guard arrested with one rifle said he was employed by the management of a petrol station at Ikotun.
He said: â€œI was on duty at Fidelity Filling Station in Ikotun when around 3a.m. one Bamidele who also work as guard in another petrol station jumped into our compound.
â€œI tried to find out what he wanted. He said he wanted to buy petrol. I told him that the station was not open and that he should come back around six. He insisted and I refused.
â€œWhile the discussion was still on, another person jumped into the premises. Initially, I thought he was a thief.
â€œHe asked me where I kept my gun and before I knew what was happening, he grabbed hold of me. It was later that I got to know that he was a policeman.â€