As fleeing residents gradually return
By Vincent Kalu and Lawrence Enyoghasu
There appears to be some respite for residents of the coastal communities in Ikorodu and Igando areas of Lagos State and Arepo in Ogun State, after about five days of military aerial bombardment of creeks occupied by militants who have terrorized their host and neighbouring towns and villages.
The military, last week launched aerial attacks on the camps of the militants in Ikorodu and Arepo areas, as well as invaded the militants camps at Fatoki and Ewedogbon areas of Igando, Lagos, to liberate the embattled communities.
For a long time, peace was elusive in the affected communities and the residents lived in fear because of the activities of militants allegedly from Niger Delta who have been terrorising residents; kidnapping, raping, robbing and carrying out atrocities. They were equally engaged in economic sabotage against the nation through illegal bunkering and damaging of oil pipelines.
With the military action so far, there seems to be cessation of the criminal acts and the residents are celebrating and singing a new song of victory.
From the beginning of Isawo Road at Agric Bus stop in Ikorodu, congratulatory messages and banters were being exchanged among passers-by and shop owners. These were even extended to military and police personnel who stood on guard.
A middle-aged woman was greeting policemen on duty in Yoruba language, “Eku ewu olubori o ”, meaning, “congratulation on your victory.” Another resident simply identified as Mama Monday, a restaurant operator, was full of appreciation to God for what He has done for them. According to her, she didn’t move out of the community because she didn’t see the reason.
“I didn’t see what was chasing people away. I need not be afraid of them. I was here when they started their vandalism business and when they turned to kidnappers.
“Here in Abule-Oba was where they stayed and enjoyed themselves with their women. While doing all these things, they carried their guns in broad daylight. They were free with people. They even mingled with our girls.
“But when they turned to kidnappers, they didn’t operate here. They operated twice here but the information I got from their women was that those who operated on our street were the young ones, not the big boys,” Mama Monday, told Saturday Sun
“They have wives around this area. They lived normal lives with us, what frightened the people were the guns they were wielding in broad daylight. Even if you came to make peace with someone but you are carrying guns, my brother, no matter what you are saying the gun will still not make the person to believe you.
“They educated some of us. They said whenever we hear gunshot that the safest thing to do is to lie on the ground. They said we should lie on the ground, unless the gunshot was aimed at the person. So, when you lie flat, only the person that will purposely want to kill you will meet you where you are lying and shoot you. It was here the genesis of the kidnapping started.
“Before the police came, they would harass people on the road. As you are carrying a bag like this, you couldn’t do that before. They would have stopped and searched you. That assault was the beginning of their problem with some people.
“In our area, we thank God that we didn’t lose a life unlike Olamukan where they killed excessively because those people there didn’t cooperate with them. According to their mistresses, they said that the landlords in that area colluded with the police and wanted them out”, she added.
Another person who was also grateful that the storm was over, was a tricycle driver, called Asa Omoba. He told Saturday Sun “We thank God for what He has done for us in this area. Before, I could not have dared to come to this area. These militants made mistakes, the government might not have taken cognizance of them if they didn’t go overboard with their activities. The moment they started to kill people, the government took them serious. I am not saying that their former business, vandalism is good but if they didn’t start to oppress the people, the alarm would not have been raised.”
Like Asa, Joe Efe, a Delta State indigene who resides at Wale Shiro at Igbo-Olomo was full of joy that the situation is under control. “The situation right now is stable. We are still not safe; yesterday (Tuesday) there were very heavy gunshots. It was heavy that my house was vibrating. I just moved into my house. I could not see the rationale why I would have a house and be paying about N300, 000 for an apartment in Surulere. My house is close to the creek. I have never heard gunshots in Lagos like I did yesterday.”
At Marindoti Street in Fatoki second poultry, and Pacific Estate, Ikejiobi Avenue, Ewedogbon, in Igando area, life is gradually returning there. However, activities are yet to pick up at Odo market, which is by the creek.
The market is where residents from Totonu in Ogun state come to trade using canoe and boat as means of transportation through the creek. It is this creek that separates Lagos and Ogun states. The creek links Totonu, Ibesa and Agbara in Ogun.
The mini commercial buses, which the residents call, Korope that ply Igando to Odo are counting their losses, as no activity goes on there.
At Marindoti Street, residents make bonfire over night to keep the area illuminated, as some of them who ran way are gradually returning.
A resident who pleaded anonymity told Saturday Sun that he didn’t run away during the gun battle but was indoors all through the period, adding that he had no place to run to.
Another resident said that his neigbour who ran to Ibadan to be with her daughter, was yet to come back. He said he wouldn’t blame anybody that fled the area “because it is only a tree that would see death and remain.”
The RRS armoured personnel carrier that was stationed at the gate of Fatoki about two weeks ago is now at Ewedipo bus stop on LASU- Igbando road.