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Ex-militants, militiamen invade Lagos …behind robbery, kidnapping spree

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Ex-militants, militiamen invade Lagos …behind robbery, kidnapping spree

Ex-militants, militiamen invade Lagos …behind robbery, kidnapping spree
March 05
04:49 2016

There are strong indications that jobless Ijaw/Ilaje ex-militants as well as militiamen may have invaded Lagos, and are responsible for the various recent acts of kidnappings, robberies and other criminal activities in the state.

Impeccable sources in the police and the Department of State Services, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH on the condition of anonymity, said available intelligence suggested that some of the ex-militants, whose source of livelihood was lost after President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled their pipeline protection contracts, were responsible for the recent upsurge of crime rate in the state.

A senior DSS official told Saturday PUNCH that the police and other security agencies had been finding it difficult to control the proliferation of firearms in the possession of the ex-militants.

It was learnt that some of the ex-militants and militiamen responsible for protecting pipelines during former Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had turned to kidnapping and robberies to make money.

He said, “Since abduction seems to be profitable and less risky, jobless ex-militants and militia group members seem to have found a lucrative business in the kidnapping of hapless citizens.”

Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had awarded contracts to six companies to guard pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

The pipeline security and surveillance contract, said to have been worth N9.3bn, was carried out between March 15 and June 15, 2015.

The pipeline surveillance contract was awarded to companies owned by former Niger Delta militants, self-determination groups and prominent Nigerians including Government Tompolo Ekpumopolo, Mujaheedin Asari-Dokubo, Ateke Toms, Bipobiri Ajube and Ebikabowei Victor Ben (Boyloaf).

Others are the company of the founder of Oodua Peoples Congress, Fredrick Fasehun and OPC national co-ordinator, Gani Adams.

The operational areas for the companies were: Egbe Security River One (Bayelsa), Gallery Security (Mosinmi-Ore), Close Body Protection (Edo), Adex Energy Security (Rivers), Donyx Global Concept (Lagos and Ogun), Oil Facilities Surveillance (Delta) and New Age Global Security (Mosinmi-Ibadan).

However, President Buhari did not renew the pipeline protection contracts awarded to OPC and other militia groups by the Jonathan administration.

Lagos State has witnessed series of robbery attacks between last year and now.

There have also been cases of kidnapping, the latest being the abduction of three schoolgirls from the Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu, on Monday.

A gang of robbers on Wednesday, June 24, 2015, attacked two new generation banks in the Ikorodu area of the state.

The robbers were said to have trailed a bullion van to the premises of one bank in the Ogolonto area of the town before moving to another bank after they were done with the first.

The police reportedly engaged in a gun battle with the robbers but they managed to escape via a speedboat after burning the vehicle which conveyed them to the scene of the crime.

Also, no fewer than 40 armed robbers invaded two commercial banks in Festac Town, Lagos, on October 13, 2015, reportedly carting away a huge sum of money.

About 20 armed robbers, wearing military camouflage also attacked five banks in Agbara Industrial Estate in Ogun State in November last year.

Also, detectives attached to Igando Police Station on Iba Road, Lagos State, recently arrested two men who they alleged had just arrived from Niger Delta via the waterway to carry out a bank robbery. The suspects, identified as Chinedu Okoro and Keme Patrick, were said to have been planning the robbery for Friday of that week.

According to security sources, one of the strong points of the development is that the assailants are heavily armed because of the proliferation of arms in the country.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Olabisi Kolawole, could not be reached for comments on the efforts being made by the police to apprehend and disarm ex-militants and other crime gangs across the country.

But the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Sogbegba West, said the police had started recovering illicit arms in the country.

According to him, the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, has given a three-month window for those with illegal arms to surrender them.

He added that the period would expire in March, after which the force would go after persons in possession of illegal arms.

Speaking on Friday, West said, “The IG announced in January this year that all holders of illegal arms should surrender them and he gave a three-month window which will expire in March ending, so from April, anyone with illegal arms will find himself to blame because the police will go after them and they would be made to face the law.”

Asked to give the number of arms so far recovered, West said it was an ongoing process, adding that it was difficult to quantify the arms that had been surrendered.

Reacting to the intelligence report, the Ijaw National Congress Publicity Secretary, Mr. Victor Burubo, described it as “unintelligent” and lacking in facts.

He said, “It is not true; Ijaw people have nothing to do with the kidnappings and armed robbery incidents in Lagos. It is unacceptable to say that Ijaw militants are invading Lagos and getting involved in kidnapping and armed robbery.

“I don’t know the source of such intelligence and it is obvious that the so-called intelligence is unintelligent. Those that came out with the intelligence report should come up with facts and stop accusing the Ijaw people wrongly.”

Also, the National Secretary General of Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, Mr. Bristol-Alagbariya Emmanuel, said Ijaw and Ilaje youths should not be blamed for crimes in Lagos.

“Lately, you know that everything that is bad is attributed to Ijaw people and Jonathan (former President Goodluck Jonathan).

“Ijaw people are peace- loving; linking them to armed robbery and kidnapping in Lagos because of President Buhari’s cancellation of pipeline protection contract is shocking and condemnable.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has said that the Nigerian Air Force has expressed willingness to build unmanned aerial vehicle, otherwise called drones, to ensure adequate surveillance of petroleum products’ pipelines across the country.

When asked to explain how the pipelines across the country were being protected, a senior official of the NNPC told our correspondent that the corporation had entered into partnerships with both the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force in order to safeguard the facilities.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, referred our correspondent to the corporation’s latest Energy in Brief report for February 2016, where the NNPC stated that the Nigerian Air Force had indicated its interest to partner with the national oil firm to enhance pipeline security across the country through the deployment of drones.

In the report, the NNPC said the NAF had made a presentation on its prototype drone surveillance aircraft to the management of the oil firm.

It said the Nigerian Air Force, during the presentation, had explained that the aircraft was built on home-based technology that addresses the peculiarity of the Nigerian terrain.

According to the report, which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja, the NAF urged the NNPC to partner with it to support the manufacturing of the aircraft on need basis.

The report said, “The craft code named Gulma, is the first indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle built by the Nigerian Air Force. It has the capacity to fly for 12 hours of surveillance operations with crew and state of the art radio and video communication.”

The NNPC further noted that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who was represented by the Group Executive Director, Commercial and Investment, Dr. Babatunde Adeniran, during the presentation by the NAF team, expressed confidence in the ability of the Nigerian Air Force to support the national oil firm in curbing the menace of pipeline vandalism across the country.

-PUNCH

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Mujeeb

Mujeeb

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