In spite of the near total absence of police officers on Lagos roads, the Lagos State police on Thursday said they are “on duty.”
Several residents of Lagos have lamented how police officers who used to be at different locations in the state seemed to have been withdrawn following the violence that occurred last week.
The #EndSARS protests, which ended in violence in the state, is being adduced as the reason for the withdrawal of police officers across the state.
The protest, which began as a campaign against police brutality, harassment, extortion, and extrajudicial killing, called for better policing in Nigeria.
The events, however, took a sad turn when hoodlums took advantage of the protests and unleashed mayhem in different parts of the state.
The hoodlums attacked different police stations in the state, burnt 16 of them, destroyed 13 and set properties of the police, including police vehicles, ablaze after a large number of the properties have been looted.
No fewer than six police officers were killed, while 38 officers were injured during the attack.
However, since normalcy returned to Lagos, police officers have been scarce on Lagos roads.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that there were no police officers at Berger, Alausa, and Victoria Island areas of the state, as of Wednesday.
At Ogba area on Wednesday, members of National Union of Road Transport Workers were on hand to control heavy traffic around Aguda and College Road in the city.
A resident, who drove through the axis, observed that commuters were diverted to take the wrong way at the Area G police command in Ọgba, as the road passing in front of the command was blocked with planks, used tyres, among other objects.
The police officers were seen loitering around the command’s premises and not taking any interest in the gridlock in the neighbourhood.
The development is a deviation from the usual practice where policemen were always in control of traffic situations in the area, the resident explained.
Another resident at Surulere explained that highway robbers are beginning to have a free day in the axis due to the absence of police officers.
Sulaiman Arigbagu, a public affairs commentator, told PREMIUM TIMES that indeed, the police have been scarce in his neighbourhood.
Mr Arigbagu said the events that unfolded in the state, especially the #EndSARS protest, are a major factor.
“It can be viewed in two ways, one is that although many police officers are not on the road, they are still making arrests of those involved in the looting and arson in the state. It may be that they are employing more strategic ways of doing their work.
“The second reason is that it could be that the police have been intimidated by the #EndSARS protest and other events and are unwilling to come out,” he said.
Mr Arigbagu added that residents are missing the police on the road, especially in places where thugs are robbing residents on bikes.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the Lagos police spokesperson, said officers are on duty.
“Policemen are not absent form their duties. We are more into convoy patrol and decoy patrol. Every area command takes charge of this in their areas,” he said.
As a followup, Mr Adejobi released a statement where he said “Lagos state police command personnel are on duty at various locations across the state contrary to the news making waves that the police have abandoned their duties.
“We embark on convoy patrol, Aberdeen system and traffic control. The commissioner of police for Lagos State has reassured Lagosians of better policing despite the recent challenges the command faced,” he said in the statement.