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Ikorodu robbery, the Police and public security by Tayo Ogunbiyi

According to eye witness accounts, the recent armed robbery operation, that threw a part of the ancient town of Ikorodu into pandemonium for hours, was executed in a most daring commando fashion. Unusually, according to reports, the 16 man dare –devil robbery gang that carried out the dastardly robbery plot was led by a young lady in her early twenties. Like in the movies, the robbers were said to have used explosives to smash the rotor doors of the two banks where they operated to gain entry and instructed the banking staff and customers to lie down motionless. While the robbery operation lasted, the robbers allegedly made away with cash loots running into millions of naira. In a bid to, perhaps, frustrate security operatives from successfully trailing them; the robbers purportedly set the three SUVs that brought them for the operation ablaze. In a fashion that has been compared to the March 12 robbery attack in Lekki, Lagos, the robbers, shooting sporadically, ostensibly escaped with their booties through the Ipakodo jetty at Ikorodu, using two motor boats.
Aside the destruction done to the buildings housing the two banks where the robbery operation took place, a few people were equally reportedly injured. Fortunately, as at the time of putting this piece together, no life was reportedly lost through the operation. But then, as it is always the case with such high scale robbery scheme, the two banks involved as well as people working and living in the vicinity are still counting their losses. Similarly, some of the customers that were trapped in the two banks, while the operation lasted, are yet to get over the traumatic experience. Indeed, some of them might live with the shock of the horrible experience for a long time to come.
Now that the dust gathered by the sad event is gradually settling down, it is imperative to properly scrutinize some of its far-reaching fallouts. First, it is instructive to stress that the banks that were robbed were allegedly located directly opposite the Ipakodo Police Division, Ikorodu. Ordinarily, this is supposed to be an advantage to the banks, but as things eventually turned out, it is rather sad that the robbers held sway for as long as they wanted with such irritating audacity. According to reports, as soon as the robbers had satisfactorily completed the robbery act, they brazenly challenged policemen at a police station close to the scene of the event to an open gun duel of which the latter thoughtfully declined. This only goes to actually confirm what have been the fears of many Nigerians concerning the preparedness level of men and officers of the Nigerian police to deal with such anti-social occurrences.
It smacks of unbelievable effrontery for robbers to audaciously hold a group of people hostage for as long as they are willing to in a country reputed to be most populous Black Nation on earth. It was gathered that some of the gunmen were outside the banks firing into the air for over an hour and that the whole operation lasted for more than three hours. While it lasted, the policemen at the station were said to have fled for their lives. Eyewitness account had it that some of the policemen hid at the back of Ipakodo Grammar School for more than one hour to escape the fire power of the robbers. The puzzle herein is that if banks, public institutions and people that live close to a police station are not really assured of their safety, what would then be the lots of those who are located in places where there are no police presence of any sort? Your guess is as good as mine.
It is rather amusing that in our clime, it is characteristic for robbers to hold people hostage for hours only for police and other security operatives to surface immediately after their departure. This is exactly what happened in the Ikorodu episode. A few minutes after the robbers were gone; the whole place reportedly became flooded with policemen, armoured tanks and one Operation MESA men. This is a rather disturbing trend that the police authorities and the leadership of the various security agencies have to properly look into. In as much as one understands the various challenges of the police especially, it doesn’t speak well of us as a nation that a gang of robbers could hold a place hostage for as long as they want without any resistance whatsoever from the security operatives. If this odd pattern is not frontally addressed, it portends a great danger for us as a people.
It is also important to point attention to what is fast becoming an emerging escape pattern of robbers through the waterways. As it has been previously stated, the armed robbers that recently took Ikorodu by storm escaped through the Ipakodo jetty at Ikorodu, using two motor boats in a fashion akin to the March 12 robbery in Lekki, Lagos. This definitely calls to question the vulnerability of our waterways. It is, therefore, important that relevant security agencies and stakeholders swiftly look into this with a view to coming up with strategies that will effectively ensure the protection of our waterways. This is particular important now that the Lagos State government is making practical and noticeable efforts to promote water transportation in the State. The assurance of Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Kayode Aderanti, that the waterways would soon be fortified, if backed with required action, is, therefore, a welcome development.
The Ikorodu robbery episode also calls attention to the deplorable situation of youth in the country. It is pathetic that the youth who should normally be in the vanguard of nation building are taking to destructive social vices. This, if not quickly checked, signifies a bleak future for our dear nation. Hence, faith based organisations, key social-cultural bodies, related government agencies and other youth based stakeholders should continue invest in the development of the youth. This is the best way to safeguard the future of our deer country.
Equally, all the partners of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund must not relent in their efforts towards equipping and empowering the Lagos State Police Command in the onerous task of checkmating robbers and criminals in the State. It is only a common frontal response that could effectively forestall future occurrence of such dastardly robbery act as the one recently experienced in Ikorodu. Public security cannot be obtained without the active involvement, participation and support of everyone in the society.
Despite the magnitude of the Lagos State government investment in public security, there are still herculean challenges that government’s resources alone cannot tackle. In as much as everyone in a state pursues varied interests, the pursuit of public security should, nevertheless, be the common goal of all. The involvement and participation of individuals and non-governmental actors in the issues of public security is, therefore, a necessity for the actualization of a secured society.
Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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