Pandemonium enveloped Pacific Estate, Ikejiobi Avenue, Ewedogbon, in the Igando area of Lagos State on Tuesday after some militants engaged security operatives in a gun battle for about seven hours.
During the encounter, three policemen attached to the Igando Police Division and two residents, identified as Baba Victor and Adedokun, were injured.
Our correspondent gathered that the gunmen, who were suspected to be militants, had invaded the community around 6am through the waterways behind the estate.
They were said to have looted some shops on the estate.
It was learnt that when the matter was reported at the Igando division, a police team was deployed in the area around 8am.
The policemen were said to have engaged the bandits in a gun battle, during which three policemen were shot.
Although one of the policemen was shot in the head, the police said he survived the attack and was receiving treatment in a government hospital.
During the gun battle, some residents were said to have regained their freedom from the militants, who had earlier abducted them.
When our correspondent got to the estate around 9am, four streets – Ojo Benjamin, Kehinde Ashafa, Ganiyu Adekunle and Ikejiobi – had been deserted.
A landlord in the area, who identified himself only as Olayinka, said there were women among the militants, who also looted shops and escaped with foodstuffs.
He said, “The attacks started in Fatoki community, Igando, on Saturday. We did not know it was our turn this morning (Tuesday). At about 6.30am, they came into the estate, shooting and moving around the streets.
“Everyone ran inside and bolted the doors. They caught a resident, Baba Victor, on his motorcycle, and took him away. They cut him with machetes, but he escaped during the gun battle with the police.
“They smashed the vehicles they found on the streets. They broke into shops and stole frozen foods, bags of rice and garri. They were about 15 men. The hoodlums did not cover their faces and there were women among them. Some of us were watching them from our houses.”
Our correspondent observed some residents – women and children – leaving the area at about 2pm.
Soldiers on the streets searched their luggage as they filed out in groups.
One of the women said, “I was sweeping the corridor of my house around 6.30am when people suddenly started running, saying some hoodlums were coming with guns.
Immediately I bolted my door, the gunshots started. From the keyhole, I saw four of the men. A boy of about 20 years was in the front. He wore a red cap with coconut in his hand and a charm on his chest. The three others had guns and shot into the air sporadically.”
Thirteen police vans, two Rapid Response Squad armoured tanks and three OP MESA vans were sighted at the bus stop with displaced residents numbering over 200 people.
A policeman, who had gone to the waterside, said the gunmen arrived at the riverside around 6am, adding that they could have collaborators in the estate.
He said, “The attackers are Ijaw youths. They are young, slim and can easily swim away in water. They shot at us and three policemen were injured. They saw us and laid an ambush. When we got to a section of the river, they began to shoot. We replied the bullets. But three policemen were hit and injured.”
As at 2.30pm, the gun battle was still ongoing while a suspected hideout of the hoodlums around the waterside was set ablaze.
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, said the police had yet to make any arrest, but normalcy had been restored to the area.
She said, “Some group of people invaded the area in the early hours of Tuesday. Operatives were alerted and moved in to foil the attack. Normalcy has been restored in the vicinity. No policeman died in the incident. The command is still on the trail of the suspects.”
Militants ‘dust off bullets’ in gun battle with OPC, police in Lagos
Another report says policemen and some members of the Oodu’a Peoples Congress (OPC) engaged suspected Niger Delta militants in a gun battle in Ewedogbon, a riverine community in Igando-Ikotun local council development area of Lagos, on Tuesday.
The exchange of gunfire, which lasted for hours, created tension in the community and forced residents to abandon their homes even after the gun battle had subsided.
Residents said the militants stormed the community on Sunday evening, but only kidnapped a woman, who was returned around 3am on Tuesday.
The victim was believed to have been raped, since she was freed without any demand for ransom.
“There has been tension since they kidnapped a young lady from this area on Sunday night,” a landlord in the area, who refused to disclose his identity, said.
“We just noticed strange movements on that particular day, and we had been suspecting that they would return anytime soon. They brought back the lady around 3am today. It’s not as if they contacted her family members for ransom, she is not even an influential person to say maybe they collected money from her.
“The lady moved her things out early this morning, and it appears as if they only abducted her for pleasure.”
Gideon Osaremi, a resident who witnessed the incident, narrated how it happened.
He said the militants broke into some houses, attacked a commercial motorcyclist with machete, and raided a shop before the arrival of security operatives.
“What happened this morning was that a bike man and an elderly man were involved in an argument. The bike man threatened that he was going to kill the man,” Osaremi said.
“The man picked up a stone and said he will use to hit the boy, but the bike rider was adamant and the situation continued until all of a sudden about 11 armed men came out from the end of our street.
“Immediately, we ran inside, and we started hearing gunshots. From inside, we were seeing what was happening. They saw another bike man, and as he tried to escape, they attacked him with machetes, and used his bike to move round the community.
“They were singing in their language. The militants broke into the shop of a woman, packed her things. They took bread, can drinks, recharge cards and so many things. We were seeing them from the place; we were inside our compound – a one-storeyed building.
“Not up to 30 minutes, they reinforced and they were up to 40 this time around. They kept shooting and going round, and some of us called the police and when the policemen arrived, they challenged them. One OPC member in this area also joined the officers to engage them.
“The shooting lasted for over an hour. They were targeting the OPC man but their bullets could not penetrate his body. Most of the policemen took cover, except an officer who was also prepared for battle. The policeman kept firing back at them but when he realised that the bullet was not affecting them, he stopped shooting.”
Osaremi said the militants retreated when they realised that security personnel had been reinforced, but they returned to the community when the security men left.
“After they left, the security men asked those of us who had gathered by then to move inside, and some people quickly entered their apartments to take their things with the hope of leaving. Suddenly, the militants came out and started shooting again.
“This time around, soldiers joined the policemen on ground and the shooting continued until they escaped.”
This reporter witnessed the arrival of soldiers in armoured personnel carriers (APCs). Policemen also stationed their vehicles on both sides of the LASU-Iba road, the entrance of the community.
Some shanties close to the water in the community were set ablaze, just as detachment of policemen and soldiers continued to move into the interior of the community, which was made inaccessible by the security men.
Some residents vowed to stay back because they had nowhere to go. An indigene of the community told TheCable that the militants were calling for war.
“I have nowhere to go. Thank God I am a young man. Our prayer is that these soldiers should remain here for long, but after their departure, we will mobilise and defend ourselves,” he said.
“They kidnapped a king, now they want to descend on us. Boko Haram has been in the north for long, and militants in the Niger Delta, why would they bring this to Lagos?”
Dolapo Badmos, spokeswoman of the Lagos state police command, said the police foiled the attack, adding that normalcy has been restored.
“Some group of people invaded the area in the early hours of today. Our operatives were alerted and they swiftly moved in and foiled the attack,” she told TheCable.
“Right now, normalcy has returned to the vicinity. No single death recorded.”
Ewedogbon is a few kilometers away from Iba, where a monarch was abducted two weeks ago, and his abductors have been demanding a ransom of N50 million.