With a heavy heart I express the pains of an average Lagos residence in most recent times. For those who are familiar with Ajah axis of Lagos, five years ago, it used to be a serene and organized environment assumed to be for the upwardly mobile corporate citizens. Then, I go on a fortnightly visit to family and most times I arrive late beyond the hours of 10:00pm when the bikes and tricycles (keke) had closed. In company of other commuters, we walked over six (6) kilometers inward Ajah stretch through Langbasa and Badore without any fret or molestation. On one occasion in 2013, I walked alone with my laptop and a Blackberry phone and I arrived home at about 12:50pm. The community and environs were that safe.
For its serenity, decency and the assured security, I concluded that Ajah would be my base in the mega city. It was a case of give me Ajah or I return to my home state. Fast forward to today, by the speed of a train, the number of miscreants has grown geometrically. They extort motorists (danfo, keke and bikes) at will. They have caused countless showdowns usually referred to as the match between ‘Ajah Boys vs Ilaje Boys’ where they count number of lives lose as goals scored. The repeated occurrence has resulted to casualties and lose of valuables. Residents live in fear in the hands of youths that have lose the consciousness of humanity.
As if the plague of the louts was not enough, Ajah has been flooded by the activities of terrible looking teenage cultists. It is now a trend among the teenagers. Where are their parents I have asked repeatedly? While you might be safe in your built-up estate, plying the arterial road inward Ajah off the Lekki-Epe Express, you are greeted with the uncertainty of insecurity by mere sight of these boys.
No thanks to COVID-19. The lockdown has ceased all means of extortions, the louts and the cultists now cluster around residential estates and bus stops taking an x-ray look on residents like a lion wanting to pounce. With their blood clotted eyes and kush/alcohol running through their veins, you are left with no choice but to fear for your life and that of your family members. My new prayer point while I drive has been a call on God to make me/us invisible whenever I/we drive out or in.
For days, Twitter trended with #OgunUnrest, #Ajah and later it became #LagosUnrest. These Tweets were calls to the NG Police and all relevant authorities to act on the spate of the rising insecurity. Ajah Under Bridge, Ilaje, Maroko (inward Ilaje), Ogba, Iyana Ipaja, Agege, Ijaiye, Akute, OShodi and other areas have witnessed broad day light robbery from these boys claiming they are hungry. Locked shops in Ajah market were recently looted and some reportedly burnt in the wake of the morning. What a prize we pay for a failed state. Communities of Sango, Ota, Ifon, Abule-Egba and other neighbouring communities in Ogun State have cried out and even forced to keep watch in groups to secure their lives and properties.
I have experienced heavily armed bandits raid a neighbouring house as a child. The trauma lasted for a long time. The fear of experiencing it as an adult gives me sleepless nights. Oh! What is our crime to be born citizens of this nation? Why do we glory in pain while the Police and other forces increase their insouciance to protect lives and property but quick at trigger-happy on innocent citizens?
The Police and others have channeled too much energy on the major roads clamping down on road users with excessive roadblocks, neglecting the residential and clustered areas. Whilst that is commendable, it is a pity that they have also taken advantage of the Presidential order of lockdown to extort motorist all in the name of no movement permit.
We cannot continue to be complacent while things get worse by the minute. My pain remains that the leadership of the force and other relevant authorities will always claim they are not in the know of the situations and activities of both the scoundrels and the force men. We have kept quiet for too long. This is not the kind of society we want to bequeath to our children and we cannot continue to be victims of the circumstance of a failed state.
To the individuals, corporate organizations, faith-based organizations, other government agencies and the organized labour, it is time to speak in one voice to fix the rising insecurity in our states and nation. You may not be a victim today, but there is an unfriendly and an uncertain tomorrow. The life of every Nigerian should count more than political power.
Corporate Communications Expert
Writes from Lekki, Lagos.