Benin residents resort to self-help as security situation deteriorates
With the deteriorating security situation in Benin City, Edo State capital, residents of the ancient city have resorted to self-help by forming vigilante groups and neighbourhood watches to protect their lives and properties from cultist and other criminal elements that are holding the city by the jugular.
Benin City and the adjourning communities have in the last three weeks been under the siege of armed rival cult groups and robbers, who have killed no fewer than 38 people in different parts of the city, with Upper Sokponba being the epicentre of the bloodletting.
Besides the inter cult war, the upsurge in the cases of carjacking and armed robbery in the state capital has thrown a lot of the residents into panic, with social life declining.
Late Sunday evening, two suspected cult members were killed at Urohra Junction and Pipeline Junction at Eyaen, an outskirt of Benin.
The security breach took a turn for the worse following the hijack of the recent peaceful #EndSARS protest by hoodlums, who burnt down seven police stations in the city, looted the arms and ammunition in the stations just as they broke into the two Correctional Centres at Sapele Road and Oko, where 1,993 inmates, including 120 condemned criminals were released.
The worsening security situation has forced residents in parts of Benin City to resort to self-help by constituting themselves into vigilante groups to secure their lives and property while jungle justice was also applied when suspected armed robbers caught were lynched on Sokponba Road and Omoruyi Street by Sapele Road.
At Amagba, one of the satellite towns near Benin, the young men in the area have resorted to community policing, conducting stop and search on all persons and vehicles going and coming out of the community.
“We will not wait for the miscreants and hoodlums who have made Upper Sokponba and other affected areas of Benin inhabitable to bring their lawlessness into our community. We have resolved to join our vigilante group to patrol, check, and monitor the security situation in our community and we will make sure that Amagba is safe for all,” one of the youths volunteered.
Meanwhile, the police have called for information from the public to recover stolen arms and ammunition from police stations that were destroyed and burnt in the state.
The Edo State Commissioner of Police, Babatunde Johnson Kokumo, who made the call, explained that the attack on police facilities, burning of police stations and patrol vehicles during the EndSARS protests that turned violent, had affected their operations but that gradually they would come back to their normal duty of checking crime and criminality in the state.
Reports also indicated that the Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, Agabi Godiri, who was shot at Upper Sokponba Road on Friday and was feared dead on Sunday is responding to treatment and out of danger list.
Godiri, who was an Area Commander of Sapele Road Area Command of the Edo State Police Command, ran into the warring Aye and Eiye confraternities on Sokponba axis of the state capital and was fatally shot alongside two other policemen.