COVID-19 & SECURITY ISSUES IN NIGERIA: VIGILANTISM BECOMING THE ORDER OF THE DAY AS GROUPS SPRING UP DAILY WITH INCREASING VOLUNTARY MEMBERS

By: Mercy Aremu/ www.africanakua.com, Nigeria

A popular idiom says “make hay while the sun shines”, but some citizens in Nigeria have decided to turn around this saying to suit their purpose during the ongoing lockdown in Nigeria to “rob all you can when the sun sets”.

Activities of gang robbery has been reported in areas of Lagos state and Ogun state where the President imposed total lockdown.

According to recent statistics published on 22nd April, 2020 by Worldometer on the coronavirus pandemic, there is a total of 2,557, 181 confirmed cases worldwide with 177,641 deaths and 690,444 recoveries as at 22nd April, 2020. In Nigeria, there are 782 cases with 25 deaths and 197 recoveries as at 22nd April, 2020.

The history of the pandemic in Nigeria is only about two months and that is no justification for criminal activities whatsoever.

The Nigerian Coronavirus pandemic data or medical cases chart compiled by Wikipedia shows that the first confirmed case of the virus was on the 27th of February, 2020. According to the Lagos state Federal Ministry of Health there was total of 131 cases before a lockdown was declared on 30th March, 2020.

By the end of the first 14 days of the lockdown on 13th April, 2020, the confirmed cases greatly shot up to 343 (212 more cases). From 14th April when the second round of 14 days lockdown was imposed till 22nd April, 2020 the total number of confirmed cases stands at 782. Comparing these figures to others worldwide, Nigeria is among the least hit or affected by the virus. It is therefore too early for the gangsterism and or robberies in Nigeria. Again, there is no justification for these robberies in targeted areas in Lagos and Ogun states.

Persons living in the communities of Iju-Ishaga, Alagbdo, Aja, Agege, Igando and Agric in Lagos state have already had their share of these criminal attacks. Frustrated as these victims have become since no help is coming from the state security, they have decided to put the law into their own hands by protecting themselves and launch counter attacks on these criminals by forming vigilante groups. One sees members of these groups wielding inferior but pretty dangerous weapons like clubs, machetes, stilettoes, stones etcetera. It is not a good site at all and it does not auger well for these communities.  

A gang of robbers identified as “One Million Gang” have been part of those perpetrating these nefarious attacks. It was reported that the youths of the Mushin Community in Lagos state have come together to challenge the notorious “One Million Gang”.

Although President Buhari during his address to the nation on 13th April, 2020 announced that “the current social register” be expanded in the next two weeks for relief items (Personal Protective Equipment- PPEs, food, money etc) to be fairly distributed to the poor and vulnerable, it is alleged that those in charge of the distribution have not been up to the task, hence these attacks.

It has been reported that there has been gross mismanagement of funds for the PPEs by the leadership in charge of the distribution. Eyewitness reports indicate that there were fights in Jakande Estate of Amuwo Odofin LGA of Lagos state among some of these officials over money.

The youth heard these stories. It therefore came as no surprise when news reports made rounds that the Executive Chairman of Amuwo Odofin LGA, Engr. Valentine Buraimoh was attacked at Jakande estate to distribute food items to members of the community.  Some youths showed up and caused uproar because money that was supposed to come with the food items was not added.

The world, including Nigeria, is not in normal times. Things are becoming difficult for everybody as economies are crumbling and people losing their lives in thousands to the coronavirus, so instead of robbing people of the little they have to survive on, everybody should come together as one to fight this disease. The government should also rise to the occasion and enforce the law for all these corruption and criminal activities to stop otherwise we would only live at the mercy of these criminals hoping that things will turn out well in the shortest possible time.

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