4 arrested as troops, OPC battle militants in Lagos for 6 hours •OPC loses another member •Abducted RCCG pastor, others rescued

FOR close to six hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning, troops of the Nigerian Army, police, Air Force and Navy bombed creeks around Lagos and Ogun communities in the throes of suspected militants’ invasion.

The sustained operations to flush out the criminal elements that had left tales of blood, death and woes for the fleeing residents of Igbo Olomu area of Ikorodu and Igando of Lagos State, as well as Arepo and Ibafo areas of Ogun State were complemented by members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC).

The combined operations also yielded first major breakthrough with the arrest of four members of the militant group by OPC members.

The Gani Adams’ faction of the group, however, lost a member to the operation.

OPC members confirmed that they were responding to a distress call on the abduction of two members of Yewa community in Igbo Olomu.

Residents of the affected communities watched on Sunday as the military continued the air raid, which lasted a few hours.

A resident of Igbo Olomu, Mr Fasan, told the Nigerian Tribune that “again, the military came early today and shot repeatedly at the millitants’ base for about three hours.

“They came again in the morning and attacked the creeks again. They were there for about three hours. They continued to shoot from the air till they left.”

He also continued that “today’s bombardment was even more than those of the last three days. They spent almost three hours today.”

Another residents who pleaded anonymity, while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, expressed fears that some of the milltants might have penetrated neighbouring communities, as four of them were arrested after the operation on Saturday.

The resident said “the OPC men arrested four militants who abducted two members of the community, including a landlord.”

The OPC men from  Ogbagba zone reportedly succeeded in rescuing the abducted community members but lost one of their members, Tunde Sogunro, who died in the encounter with the militants.

The arrested militants were reportedly handed over to the divisional police officer in charge of Owutu divisional police station, who took them to the area commander in charge of the area.

After the militants’ attack last week Friday, a man simply identified as Daniel, a resident of Yewa phase 2, Ikorodu area of Lagos State, was abducted.

He was released on Saturday after a confrontation between the militants and some OPC members on the waterways.

Sogunro, who was lost to the face-off, died on the way to the hospital after being shot by the militants, while the other casualty, identified as Tunde Oyenge, was taken to the hospital.

A source told the Nigerian Tribune that Oyenge died on Sunday morning while some militants were arrested.

“We lost Tunde this morning. He was a member of the OPC who helped in rescuing Daniel the militants abducted on Friday. His corpse had been deposited at the mortuary. Some militants were arrested yesterday and today.

“Navy officials were combing the waterways and all the creeks from Afa Bridge to all the creeks around.

“All the security personnel were on ground. Two more militants were arrested today (Sunday) as they were trying to run away,” the source said.

A resident of the Yewa Phase 2 community, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Nigerian Tribune that there was stop and search exercise in the community by security agencies.

He said “there was stop and search exercise going on early this morning (Sunday) around 6.00 a.m., we were woken up by the sporadic shootings from the Koonu and Elepete communities this morning.

“We have it on good authority that the abducted pastor of Redeemed Christian Church of God had been released. He was released today in company with other abducted victims.

“Residents around Koonu reported that about six large canoes or speed boat were brought to the area for the operations.

“Peace is returning to our community, although shops are still locked down as people don’t want to be caught in the crossfire,” the resident said.

The suspected militants were reportedly handed over to Owutu division.

The image maker in charge of the Lagos State police command, Dolapo Badmos, confirmed the arrest of the four militants to the Nigerian Tribune.

Speaking on the rescue of the pastor, Badmos said “at about 1.00 p.m., upon information received by Owutu division from members of Olanukan community, Isawo, Ikorodu area that some suspected militants had kidnappped one Daniel Akpugbe in the community, combined teams of policemen attached to area ‘N’ command, Ijede, commenced into action.

“The victim was rescued from the hoodlums’ hideout while the hoodlums took to their heels. However, three suspects, viz, one Paul Oshodi, Samuel Oshodi abd Isaac Ikire, all of no fixed address, were arrested.

“One Babatunde Sogunro, aged 25, was shot dead by the fleeing suspects. His corpse had been deposited at Ikorodu General Hospital morgue  for autopsy.”

Meanwhile, a self-identifed resident of one of the troubled communities, Mr Sunday Orija, in a Facebook post, claimed a reprisal by the militants after the military operations were halted on Saturday.

According to him, “as I am posting this. Sporandic gunshots and explosives weapon attacks are going on between militants and security agents. All residents are in serious danger. We appeal to the security chiefs to deploy more men to complement the efforts of those on ground because it seems the militants are having upper hand.

“At around 8.00 p.m. yesterday night (Saturday), many residents were either killed or kidnapped in retaliation of the military air strike bombardment carried out early yesterday.

“Please come to our aid now at Isawo area of Ikorodu, we are appealing please. The militants are having upper hand.”

Police sources, however, denied his claims.

His claims could also not be indepedently verified as other sources contacted in the area only confirmed the military raids and efforts by cornered militants to escape from the area.