When IG Adamu toured police assets destroyed in Lagos


Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu’s visit to Lagos on Tuesday availed him the opportunity to see the evil wrought on police assets, writes PRECIOUS IGBONWELUNDU

 

He tried to show strength but his grief was palpable. Burnt police buildings, vehicles, decimated barracks, cracked walls, stripped roofs, broken bottles and debris all over the affected police formations visited were too much for Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu.

Unable to find the right words to describe the level of damage at police formations and the Palace of the Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu, Adamu occasionally shook his head as community leaders, Divisional Police Officers and Area Commanders recounted their experiences.

From the airport where the IG was received, the convoy moved straight to the Makinde Police Station in Oshodi, where a young man, Oke Obi-Enadhuze, was hacked to death by the hoodlums said to have stormed the premises.

Soot, condemned wire, broken woods and glasses have overtaken the once red dry soil of the police station with the premises looking like a scene from a war movie. The sights were the same at Orile Iganmu, Ebute Ero Police Stations and the Oba’s Palace where the invaders not only looted and vandalised properties but also desecrated the throne by pooing inside it.

Our reporter observed that the monarch’s stool and other cultural symbols of power that were desecrated by the hoodlums have been placed outside while some of the pictures whose frames were broken still hung on the walls. Also, exotic vehicles in the palace that were damaged were also seen. Members of the royal family narrated how the hoodlums invaded a community healthcare centre and carted away properties belonging to pregnant women attending antenatal.

The IG assured Lagos Princes, including Oba Akiolu’s first son, Aremu, and his younger brother, Adeoye, that the police would fish out the culprits and bring them to book.

Prince Aremu Akiolu, who took the police chief round the palace, said the miscreants might have attacked the palace because of the monarch’s intolerance of hooliganism.

He said: “Kabiyesi is a very tough man and because he was a police officer before so he doesn’t tolerate nonsense. But for them to go to that extent is very uncalled for. Whenever we have an Oba in Lagos, we respect the Oba. Oba is very nice to the people so it is not nice at all.  We need to know how to behave in this country.”

Aremu Akiolu said: “They vandalised everywhere, took all the chairs and electronics. God just saved Kabiyesi. They didn’t return the staff of office but we have the original one with us and we went out four days later with all the traditional people. The main palace here is the target.”

From all the scenes visited, the tales were similar: Armed hoodlums who hijacked the #ENDSARS protests came guns-blazing, shot petrol bombs at the facilities and subsequently torched before looting them dry.

Residents relive experiences

Witnesses at Ebute-Ero said the attackers fired gunshots from atop the bridge, adding that they soaked bread in petrol and fired them to the station. They said it was after they attacked the station and carted away firearms that they moved to the Oba’s Palace.

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The Chairman, Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) in Oshodi, Mr.  Femi Akeju, said he had never seen anything like that before. He lamented that the facilities destroyed took the PCRC 12 years to build, adding that they recently bought tiles, fixed windows and toilets.

“The hoodlums took advantage of this ENDSARS protest and they just came and put fire here. In fact, our DPO was disgraced. They wanted to even burn him inside the place. We begged them but they refused so the Air Force came in and rescued him.

“The hoodlums were here for over three hours. We tried our best to stop them but they were too many. It was a serious issue and then we discovered there’s nothing we can do because they were armed and large crowd of thousands.

•The burnt Divisional Headquarter, Makinde, Oshodi PHOTOS: Isaac Jimoh Ayodele

“They surrounded this place. Initially they came with petrol bombs and were throwing to this place and firing so nobody could face them.

“The people that carried out this attack are not youths in this community. In fact, 90% of them are not youths in this community. The youths came from various places not necessarily Oshodi youths alone. In fact, for two weeks they were at the express on airport road; put their gbedu and they were beating their drums for almost two weeks at the centre of the road, it is from there they migrated to this place.

“Our real youths are not happy with what has happened. We have true and fake youths, the true youths are very sad with what’s happening, the community is very sad.

“We are going to appeal to the Federal Government; we know police issue is an exclusive issue so it’s the federal government that must come in to help us. We have done all our best we could and they have destroyed it.

The Chairman, Oshodi Local Government Area, Bolaji Ariyo, said the attackers were overwhelming.

He said the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and his men waded off an initial attempt and secured the entrance to the station but the thugs attacked from the rear by destroying a fence and burning the barracks.

“Oshodi is a community that people always consider aggressive, troublesome but it’s not like that. We all know ourselves in this community very well. I can tell you for a fact, the entire youths here were not those who attacked. At that time, there was a restriction of movement everywhere, so, we were working on social media telling people not to destroy our own heritage. Some of our boys were here trying to stop the attackers. I was calling them and they were telling me the position of things. “I can tell you where these boys came from. The boys come from the expressway. There’s pedestrian bridge at the expressway, at night we have people that sleep there. These are the people that migrated from every corner of Lagos State and find a conducive place to sleep so these boys are not from here.

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“They moved to the division because everybody feels that this is the time for them to loot and free for all. So, they believe that first of all they need to destroy the police that guard us so that they could be able to penetrate to other areas without being caught since they have destabilised the police.”

An Orile Community leader, who identified himself simply as Samsudeen, said the station was attacked by youths and road transport union members, adding that they even tried to burn his office.

“Kunle knows how many people that came to this area to come and burn here. They carried arms, I saw some guns. Some guys were at Alhaji Jimoh’s side. They are hoodlums, I don’t know them. That day, they were ready to kill me as well. They wanted to fight me. I just hid in one place, some hoodlums/unions were among them.

“We want police to come back. Since that day, we cannot rest in this community since then at all, they are just threatening us with gun.”

Straight from the heart

Addressing reporters after visiting Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the State House, Marina, the IG admitted Lagos was the worst hit by the violence from his observation, adding that he was in the state to commiserate with the government and people as well as access the level of destruction.

“The second reason for my visit is to see the police stations that were destroyed and then talk to officers and men of the Nigeria Police to encourage them not to be disturbed or demoralised by the events that took place and remind them they are specially trained to take such kinds of pains because by the nature of policing, you are always exposed to danger and now that this has happened, it shouldn’t discourage us from performing our constitutional duties.

“It is true that their morale has been dampened but the visit is to come and encourage them not to relent in performing their duties to protect lives and properties.

All of you have seen that apart from the police station that were destroyed a lot of government institutions were destroyed, private businesses destroyed even the palace of the traditional ruler, the Oba of Lagos was destroyed.

“So you can see that anytime you want to embark on a peaceful protest it is very important to set a protocol in order not to allow miscreants, hoodlums to hijack the protest. The moment you allow that the purpose and intent of the protest will be defeated as the case now with this peaceful protest that we witnessed.

“Nobody, no economy, no nation, no state will be able to bear the loss. That we have seen happened in Lagos. Even if we are able to bear, it will take a long time. So we hope in the future when we are going to join peaceful protests, we will observe some protocols so that we don’t experience what we experienced this time around.”

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From the State House, the IG moved to the private residence of Oba Akiolu where for an off-camera visit; stopped at the Police Clinic, Ikoyi to see some injured cops still on admission before proceeding to the Command Headquarters in Ikeja to address officers and men.

Before the event commenced, a solemn moment was observed for the 22 cops killed across the country during the violence with all officers and men standing still as the band played the dirge.

A morale booster

Commending them for exercising restraint in the face of huge provocation, Adamu urged them to see what happened as more reason to prove the people wrong on allegations of brutality.

He assured them that President Muhammadu Buhari would improve the welfare of the police, adding that he was happy most Nigerians did not support the violent protesters.

The police chief noted that violence occurred in 14 states of the country, adding that the police as at Sunday had arrested 1,596 suspects.

“Nigeria police has support from the highest authority in this country so it is not that everybody dislikes the police. There are those that are finding it difficult to come out and speak but they call to say we’re behind you, you are doing a good job, please continue.

“So despite the fact that we have been attacked, some of us are in the hospital, the stations and the residences were attacked and burnt, personal belongings were destroyed, you remained committed to constitutional duties. You came out and continued to do the policing job of protecting lives and properties so thank you very much for that. As the protest and violence were going on, you made sure that a lot of people were arrested. As at three days ago, you’ve arrested 1,596 suspects all over the country.

“We are special Nigerians. We are special because we are police officers, we are special because we are specially trained to manage Nigerians and that’s why we are not easily provoked. For that reason we must be treated specially and I will tell you how government is treating us specially in the second segment of our discussion”

Call for posthumous special promotion

Lagos Police Commissioner (CP) Hakeem Odumosu appealed to the IG to award posthumous promotions for cops killed during the protest to boost the morale of others.

Odumosu appealed to the IG to equip the command with anti-riot equipment, non-lethal weapons like stunt guns in line with international standard of policing.

He also asked for four water cannons to make the management and control of riots easier and more professional.



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