In News by stephen abiodun on the 12th, September, 2020

Armed northern vigilante group causes panic in Lagos

Armed northern vigilante group causes panic in Lagos

SUBAIR MOHAMMED and LEKAN OLABULO tried to attach the hyperlinks within the operation of a controversial vigilante group, inflicting a stir within the state.

AS controversy deepens over the viral image of an alleged member of an arm-bearing vigilante group in Lagos State, the police command has reportedly issued a search-and-arrest warrant on the group.

A couple of weeks in the past, the state was set on the sting when a social media person who claimed to be a resident of Lekki posted on Twitter the of a person sporting a blue sleeveless vest with ‘Gallant Vigilante, Makoko Division’ boldly written on the again of the vest. He raised the alarm on not simply the alleged rising variety of armed Northern youths on the Island of the state but in addition their assemblage in locations that ought to have been thought of sacred to them.

The curious resident stated: “I took a motorbike from Tantalisers to Elf Property. Once we bought to Oba Adenekan Property, there have been 5 Northern guys with the rider making it six of them. They spoke Hausa and my okada rider opened a plastic bag and introduced out a vest with the inscription ‘Gallant Vigilante, Makoko Division’ and wore it. The rider dropped me off after which turned again. Nevertheless, I took one other bike and traced them to an uncompleted constructing by Zenith Financial institution round Elf Property. The gateman and the primary bike rider had been conversing and that was once I took the image posted above (referring to an image of an okda rider in a safety man’s vest). It appeared he confirmed the gateman an ID and he was let in. There have been a minimum of 50 individuals in that constructing. Why would somebody put on a Makoko Vigilante shirt and be in Lekki? The primary rider had a tear gasoline canister and a knife on him and one other okada rider had a pistol. Makoko is much from Lekki and they’re all in Lekki holding a gathering. That implies that they’re all through Lagos. Allow us to all watch out.”

The viral picture clearly caught the eye of the state police command which has now empowered the Warfare Towards Indiscipline (WAI) within the state, led by Mr Kehinde Adetayo and Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), to fish them out and arrest the members wherever they’re discovered.

In an interview with Saturday Tribune, Adetayo stated: “I’ve lived in Makoko for a few years. There was a time when instances of theft and armed theft had been rampant locally. As involved residents, we felt we couldn’t relaxation and do nothing. So, we determined to assemble ourselves collectively, young and old, to kind a vigilance group that watches over the neighborhood all through the night time. This has been the state of affairs for a few years. It’s our manner of contributing to the safety of lives and property on the grassroots. I used to be stunned after we had been invited by the police asking if we knew something in regards to the ‘Gallant Vigilante, Makoko Division’. Till the image surfaced on the social media, I had by no means heard of them. The one safety formation we have now in Makoko, other than the police, is the Vigilante Group of Nigeria and their uniform is black and brown, opposite to the blue jacket worn by the individual within the image in circulation. We have now began combing the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood in quest of them as a result of we have now been given an instruction by the police to arrest them if we are available contact with such a bunch.”

Makoko, a floating metropolis of crime?

Beneath Africa’s second longest bridge, Third Mainland Bridge, lies Makoko coastal neighborhood within the Yaba Native Council Improvement Space. The neighborhood largely populated by the Egun from the Republic of Benin and Badagry has over 250,000 inhabitants whose main occupations are dredging, wooden work and fishing. Dwellers of this world’s largest floating metropolis not solely dwell on the lagoon, additionally they rely upon the water for his or her survival. The neighborhood is now house to individuals from a wide range of riverine communities the place a number of languages like Yoruba, English and Egun are spoken. Residing within the fishing neighborhood, based on Sola Akintola, a resident and safety guard in one of many non-public estates situated on Makoko land, comes with plenty of challenges. Residents, he stated, take care of seasonal flooding, dangerous roads, poor drainage system, cultism and insecurity, primarily brought on by supremacy battles amongst rival road gangs.

Akintola stated: “I’ve not seen or heard about any armed theft incident in my virtually a decade of dwelling and dealing in Makoko neighborhood. I’ll give it to the vigilance group and frequent patrol of the neighborhood by the police. They depart nothing to likelihood on the subject of responding to safety points locally. However rivalry and road combating are frequent amongst cult teams and road gangs. You see this usually on varied streets. Makoko is especially populated by the Egun and Yoruba natives. They combine freely collectively and carry out intermarriage. You possibly can hardly differentiate between the 2. Makoko is a riverine neighborhood and this explains why most of the individuals listed here are into fishing, which they smoke and promote. Their life-style is closely influenced by their low stage of schooling. They’re uneducated and uninformed, which is a cause teenage being pregnant is a matter amongst them. It’s not a factor of disgrace for a 13-year-old lady to be pregnant in Makoko, particularly among the many Egun. This can be a frequent sight. They’re influenced by the road and the unguided life-style of space boys. Makoko is a lowly neighborhood the place individuals of little means dwell and do something to outlive. It’s a comparatively peaceable neighborhood however for infrequent fights amongst gangs.”

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An annual report on crime and security in states throughout the nation for the 12 months 2020 was not too long ago introduced by the Abroad Safety Advisory Council (OSAC), at the side of the Regional Safety Workplace at the USA Consulate Basic in Lagos. In keeping with the report put ahead by the advisory council, the mainland portion of Lagos, which incorporates Makoko, has skilled periodic outbreaks of violence ensuing from clashes amongst localised road gangs referred to as space boys. The report additional acknowledged that armed robbers invaded waterfront compounds and companies by boat, utilizing waterways as a way of escape. Corroborating the claims within the report, Makoko residents claimed that some younger males believed to be natives of Egun had been not too long ago sighted in safety vests patrolling the waterfront locally.

We’ll seek out the unlawful vigilance group –Vigilante Group of Nigeria

Reacting to the viral image of the arm-bearing Northern youth in Makoko vigilante vest, the commander of Space F of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN) in Yaba Native Council Improvement Space, Mr Israel Omisore, stated his command had no reference to the group sighted in Lekki. He stated he had no information of the existence of any safety outfit referred to as Gallant Vigilante or its division in Makoko.

The VGN additionally outsources its personnel as guards to houses throughout the state.

Omisore advised Saturday Tribune in an interview that the official uniform of personnel of the VGN all through the nation is black vest on brown trouser. This, he stated, differentiates his group from the arm-bearing Gallant Vigilante group within the viral image on the social media whose uniform is sleeveless blue jacket. He defined the steps being taken by his group and the police to unravel the identities of the individuals behind the armed group.

He stated: “I bought a name from the State Legal Investigation Division on the instruction of the Space C commander inviting all safety formations within the LCDA to a gathering. On the commander’s workplace, we had been proven the video of a person sporting a blue sleeveless vest with ‘Gallant Vigilante, Makoko Division’ boldly written on the again of the vest. He needed to know if we had any details about the safety outfit. We don’t have any hyperlink with the group. I used to be shocked to see Makoko written on the uniform. Why did they select Makoko of all places? I used to be apprehensive in regards to the safety implication of such impersonation. What if they’d dedicated grievous crimes utilizing Makoko? If not for the excessive stage of professionalism and understanding displayed by the police and for our integrity and the popularity of our efforts in neighborhood policing, we might have been in hassle. Relatively, we had been instructed to be looking out for them in our neighborhood.

“Allow me to state that there’s just one Vigilante Group of Nigeria all through the nation and we have now instructions in states and native authorities areas, not divisions. We don’t have any division in Vigilante Group of Nigeria. Our operational and organisational buildings are divided into instructions. There’s nothing like Gallant Vigilante, Makoko Division as a result of Makoko and different districts fall below my purview. The Lagos State command is supervised by my boss, Commander Olusola Olawale, who doubles as commander for South-West operations. We even have commanders controlling the operations of the group on the native authorities stage, whereas I’m the commander of Space F, Yaba LCDA command. My command covers Itire-Ikate, Surulere, Coker, Aguda, Lagos Mainland Native Authorities and Yaba LCDA below which we have now Makoko neighborhood.

“I’ve been dwelling in Makoko since 1964 and I make daring to let you know that so far as neighborhood policing and securiting lives and property are involved, we’re adequately on the bottom complementing the efforts of the police. It’s subsequently worrisome to see some impostors flying the Makoko flag with out having any connection in any respect with us. I’m stating unequivocally that we don’t have any reference to the Gallant Vigilante as they referred to as themselves and they aren’t a part of our safety crew. Maybe there’s a connection between the Gallant Vigilante and a few males that had been sighted on the Makoko waterfront in 2015. They had been non-Nigerians. They had been Egun, to be exact. Once we engaged them, they stated they got here all the way in which from Badore, Ajah to safe the lagoon in Makoko. ‘On whose invitation?’ I requested. How will you have your workplace in Ajah and you’re claiming to be securing residents in Makoko with out the information of safety handlers locally. I felt one thing was not proper and that they had been as much as some mischief. For these unknown faces to be patrolling the lagoon in the course of the night time, they should be as much as one thing. I wrote letters to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police and the Division of State Safety Service at the moment. The letters had been dated November 30, 2015 they usually had been meant to tell them in regards to the actions of those unlawful safety guards on the lagoon earlier than they might register their evil presence.

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“Months after the letters, I bought no response from the police and the DSS and we continued with our operations complementing efforts of the Lagos State police command to safe our neighborhood. A few of them claimed that they resided within the picket shacks on the lagoon. Even at that, does this give them the precise to ascertain a safety outfit and identify it as a division of the neighborhood? We all know ourselves locally. We will simply establish any unusual faces. So, there isn’t a manner anyone will declare to be part of us with out our understanding. The Vigilante Group of Nigeria has no division. The Gallant Vigilante, Makoko Division, as written on the vest that surfaced on the web, will not be the identical because the Vigilante Group of Nigeria and subsequently they aren’t identified to us. The distinction between us may be very obvious. We don’t bear arms however Gallant Vigilante does. We rely primarily on our information of the neighborhood the place we reside and function to offer helpful data to the police to curb crime and shield lives and property of residents. And we have now had impacts on our neighborhood and the houses we’re contracted to safe. I’m subsequently interesting to the Federal Authorities and the Nationwide Meeting to offer the Vigilante Group of Nigeria the required legislative backing to reinforce our operations of securing the grassroots.”

Our girls every day smoke fish until 4am –Makoko chief

Makoko neighborhood contains seven villages unfold throughout land and water. These villages embody Oko Agbon 1, Oko Agbon 2, Oko Agbon three, Yanshiwhe, Sogunro, Migbewhe and Appollo. All these villages besides the final three are floating communities.

A neighborhood head in Mighewhe Makoko, Excessive Chief Stephen Ajuwhe, whereas reacting to the crime wave in Makoko waterfront, stated: “My territory is much from Makoko waterfront. My territory may be very protected and safe. We haven’t heard of any invasion or armed theft assault in a few years. Even the allegation that some unlawful safety operations had been happening on the waterfront, for me, I don’t assume it’s true as a result of our girls are on the waterfront each night time smoking fish. They’re there day by day util round four.00 a.m. every day. I’d say if there’s any invasion or safety breach, they need to know and report back to me. Makoko is peaceable however that isn’t to say that we aren’t missing. We’d like the Lagos State authorities to enhance on infrastructure locally. We would like good highway, good drainage system and improved healthcare and safety.”

Rising flashpoints: Issues over inflow of northern youths, Malians and others into Lagos

Findings by Saturday Tribune confirmed that residents have gotten apprehensive of the actions of Northern youths within the state, together with aliens amongst them from Togo, Benin Republic and Mali who’re working as industrial motorcyclists regardless of the ban by the state authorities. Extra worrisome for the residents is the truth that most of the industrial motorcyclists bear arms and are sometimes very aggressive on the highway. These motorcyclists are accused of utilizing the arms and different harmful weapons to assault law-abiding individuals who cross their paths. There have been reviews of violent assaults and extrajudicial killings involving these males within the Ikorodu space of the state. Saturday Tribune gathered that in current instances, residents of Lekki, Ajah, Alaba Rago, Badagry, Fagba, Ikorodu, Ayobo Ipaja and Agege have expressed considerations on the perceived infiltration of their communities by suspicious youths from the North and neighbouring nations.

George, a resident of Badagry, stated the actions of those youths must be checked by the federal government via the required safety businesses in order to forestall breakdown of regulation and order and bloodletting. He described the way in which the Northern youths now “rule” the Lagos-Badagry Expressway as “alarming.”

The resident stated: “There are a whole lot of them round Alaba Rago Worldwide Market. A few of them are merchants, whereas others are industrial motorcyclists. They’re all the time aggressive. Each Sunday, they go of their a whole lot to the Suntan Seashore. Woe betide anybody that has a disagreement with them on the highway. Women and men, with three or 4 individuals on a bike, they go in convoys each Sunday to the seashore. They go round three.00 p.m. and return round 7.00 p.m. They take over the highway fully throughout that interval. No one dare have any difficulty with them. Someday in June, they’d a problem with some troopers in entrance of the Ibereko Military Barracks they usually had been handled. One among their bikes brushed a soldier’s car they usually had been about to do their typical braggadocio after they had been taught a lesson by the troopers. For some weeks, we didn’t see them once more however they’re again. Within the final 4 or 5 weeks, they’ve been rising bigger and bigger in quantity. There was a Sunday I counted over 300 of them. A few of them had knives. Their quantity is sufficient to destabilise any safety setting. These individuals rule the highway each time they exit. The state authorities and the safety businesses should verify them earlier than it’s too late.”

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A youth chief within the Makoko space of the state, Abolaji Omoaje, additionally denied that the vest which was discovered on the Lekki okada rider emanated from the slum neighborhood.

They eat onerous medicine brazenly in Gowon Property –Activist

Government Director, Rule of Legislation and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Okechukwu Nwanguma, spoke on the safety considerations and referred to as for a extra proactive response.

Nwanguma stated: “The best way to deal with such unconfirmed reviews about armed youths from the North infiltrating some components of Lagos is to offer the data to acceptable safety businesses for intelligence gathering. However I’ve additionally heard individuals expressing considerations in regards to the inflow of youths from the North and neighbouring nations like Niger and Mail and they’re primarily concerned in okada using. A lot of them promote medicine like Tramadol. In a spot like Gowon Property, they’ve a gathering level at 31 Street with some brazenly promoting and consuming onerous medicine. They’re sometimes raided by the police after which launched to return to the identical level. There have been reviews of youths being transported in teams from the North to Lagos and different components of the South. It’s actually a trigger for concern and the sponsors of such mass motion of Northern youths and the motive for such migration must be successfully investigated by safety businesses.”

Police communicate

When contacted for his response, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Muyiwa Adejobi, stated: “I’m going to name the DPO of the realm to inquire in regards to the case you’ve got simply talked about. I’m new because the spokesperson for the command. I can’t simply react to it with out having been briefed. I’m going to search out out what the problem is from the Divisional Police Officer in Makoko and get again to you.”

‘We’re tackling Makoko safety points’

Chairman of the Lagos Neighbourhood Security Corps (LNSC), Mr Israel Ajao, a retired Deputy Inspector Basic of Police, advised Saturday Tribune that his males had been tackling the safety challenges in Makoko and its environs via foot patrols, motorised patrols and intelligence gathering. He nevertheless denied having prior information of the Gallant Vigilante group.

He stated: “I’m not conscious of the Gallant Vigilante group however residents are inspired to kind teams that might help the LNSC and the police to verify crime so long as their membership is dedicated to that goal. Such native teams are additionally anticipated to register with us with a view to monitor their actions and guarantee they conform to the regulation. I’m directing our officers at Yaba to get extra details about this group and report back to me. On the inception of the Lagos Neighbourhood Security Corps on 31 March 2017, the story of the security of grassroots communities in Lagos has modified positively. The LNSC with over 5,000 personnel, together with college, polytechnic and faculty of schooling graduates, is current in all of the 57 native governments and Native Council Improvement Areas of the state. They’re all residents of the areas they had been recruited from and they’re deployed in the identical areas utilizing their native information to sort out crime and criminalities in these areas. We set out from 2017 to guard our neighbourhoods utilizing the 4 time-tested, world-recognised ideas of neighborhood policing to make sure security. One among these ideas is participation, which entails the stakeholders within the communities in defending their areas. We meet repeatedly with neighborhood improvement affiliation and committee members to not solely to debate their considerations but in addition to hunt their inputs in security issues thus securing their confidence and curiosity.

“One other one is illustration. With this, we give the individuals a way of being their representatives within the safety of their areas and this builds their belief and confidence in us. Accountability is one other precept. Beneath this, we give them suggestions repeatedly on the safety of their areas. And lastly, excessive visibility policing below which we divide communities and neighbourhoods into smaller areas referred to as beats that are patrolled on foot and with patrol automobiles to discourage criminals.

“We have now 24-hour collaboration with the Lagos State police command such that we raid prison hideouts collectively utilizing LNSC automobiles the place the DPOs are wanting automobiles. We have now a robust intelligence division which handles data on crime and criminals and their gangs and such intelligence is shared with the police. Because the chairman of LNSC, I communicate repeatedly with the Commissioner of Police via totally different strategies to share data to cease crimes earlier than they’re dedicated. The outcome immediately, with the lively assist of Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, whose THEMES agenda consists of safety and governance, is a safer Lagos regardless of the challenges of inhabitants and being Nigeria’s industrial nerve centre.”

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