Security operatives have intensified their surveillance of parts of Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria, following the raid on the hideout of suspected terrorists last week on Aromire Street in Ijora-Badia, a run down Lagos suburb.
Imam Shekau, Boko Haram leader
Over 100 soldiers were involved in the raid and some suspected terrorists who were allegedly planning to bomb parts of the city were arrested.
According to security sources, areas where surveillance has been intensified include the strategic 3rd Mainland bridge, military formation such as Bonny Camp on Lagos Island, Ijora where the terror suspects were arrested, Falomo, Ikeja, Okota, Isolo, Apapa, Mile 2, Oshodi and other areas.
The Lagos State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Ms Ngozi Braide said the police are fully on ground. She dismissed the reports about terror threat in Lagos, saying “There is no Boko Haram in Lagos. People should not be scared. The police are fully on ground to ward off any act of terrorism.”
Military authorities in Lagos are expected to speak on the Ijora raid today. Meanwhile, Braide’s reassuring words notwithstanding, residents of Aromire Street in Ijora Badia where a hideout of suspected terrorists was discovered last week are still living in shock and fear over the incident.
The densely populated community has a high population of Nigerians, Chadians and northerners. Our correspondent who visited the area Monday morning, observed that residents are still living in fear, with most youths in the area fleeing to avoid being arrested.
“We know that security agents have infiltrated this area hence one needs to be careful. Now I don’t engage in useless discussion with anybody,” Ademola Adegboyega, a youth living in the adjoining street said. Another youth, Ugo Chukwudi, said that as from now, he will be wary of the people he associates himself with.
Some residents who also spoke to our correspondent Monday morning confirmed that they were shocked that they have been living with agents of death and they were not even aware of it. Several landlords in the area have resolved to evict tenants of Northern extraction, following the shocking discovery.
“This is indeed a shock to me. Imagine living among agents of death. In fact, my brother, I’m still in real shock,” Mrs. Adenike Yusuf, a resident of the area told our correspondent this morning. Another resident, Sade Adeojo, a hairstylist said this morning that since the incident happened, she was just opening her shop this morning for business.
“Since that day I’m just coming to work today,” she said. According to a landlord, Alhaji Kareem Ibrahim, one of his tenants, a Northerner, had been living in his house for two years.
“He has never caused trouble for me but how can I be sure he does not have a link with these people? I’m not sure I will let him finish the nine months he has left. My life and that of my family members are important to me,” he said. Another landlord, Mr. Bashiru Igbalaye, said he harbours similar consideration for his Northern tenant, adding that he is not ready to risk his life and that of his family for anything.
“No, no, nobody is going to hide a bomb in my house. I’m not even sure whether the one in my house is from Niger or Katsina. But he has to leave by the end of this month. We are all afraid right now. We have been living with two of the suspects probably for many years. Who knows how many are still here?” he asked.
All efforts to speak with the Ojora of Ijora and the Baale of the community proved abortive as at the time of filing this report, as they were not available for comments and their phone lines were not going through. When the correspondent contacted the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko for comment on the matter on phone, he said the police did not participate in the operation, adding that it was purely the Military and SSS that carried out the raid last week.
He reffered our correspondent to the Military or SSS for additional comment on the issue. “I have told you people that the police did not participate in the raid. It was the Military and the SSS that carried out the operation. If you need further reactions, I think you should meet them,” he said.
Reacting to the incident, Mufutau Egberongbe, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly representing Apapa 1 under which the affected area is located, called on the state government to urgently come to the rescue of the residents in terms of security of life and properties, adding that the residents have been living in fear since the suspects were arrested.
Egberongbe, who reiterated his call for the establishment of state police as the most effective way to secure the state, also called on the residents to support an “operation know your next door neighbour.”
According to him, there cannot be any criminal activity without the collaboration of some insiders. “Anywhere you see cases of robbery and other such incidents, there must be collaboration of some people within the area,” he said. He suggested that local government councils should also begin to have a data base of residents in their areas, saying this would ease the fear that currently exists in the area.
In the absence of state police, Egberongbe urged the councils to take advantage of the Neighborhood Watch, the Community Development Associations and the Community Development Committees and even employ street guards to man streets and frustrate intending robbers and those posing danger to the security of the state.
The lawmaker reiterated his call on the state government to visit the Ijora under bridge that has become a haven for miscreants and robbers. He urged the state government to begin to enforce the threat by Governor Babatunde Fashola that landlords who habour robbers would be sanctioned. He thanked the Oba of Ijora for his collaborative efforts with the state government not just on security but other infrastructural issues.