Residents of Ondo State have raised alarm over the worsening security situation in the state, citing the rising wave of armed robbery attacks.
Speaking on a live radio program monitored by SaharaReporters over the weekend, the residents said despite the increase in frequency of robbery attacks, the Police have done little or nothing in stemming the tide.
They requested the Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Hilda Ibifuro Harrison, to facilitate a synergy between the Police and local vigilante groups to improve security in the state, especially in Akure, the capital.
Some of the residents also called on the governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, to direct security agencies to provide round-the-clock security in Akure. Callers on the program gave the names of the worst hit streets in Akure as including Isinkan, Ijemikin, Fanibi, Ondo Road, Aule, Adegboola, Ayedu Quarters, Leo, Araromi, Oke Ijebu, Ijoka, Oke Aro and Sijuade Close.
Residents of the named streets called in to express their concern over their inability to sleep soundly at night because of robbers, who operate in large numbers.
"The robbers are usually armed with guns and knives and rob residential apartments freely. They are young boys, who know the areas in which they operate very well," one of the callers said on the program.
A caller, who identified himself as Mr. Adigun from Isinkan, narrated how he was attacked after midnight last week Tuesday.
"They attacked my family around 1:30 am, ordering everyone in the room to close their eyes while they slapped me for daring to look at their faces. There were about seven of them. They later led me to my room and ransacked my wardrobe for cash before taking away my ATM cards and phones," he said.
Mr. Adigun said one of them attempted to rape the daughter of his neighbor because they did not find money in his apartment.
Another caller, Mrs. Ayoka, said her apartment was also robbed by a masked four-man gang. The same gang, she said, burgled her shop after raiding her apartment.
"I sell clothes and jewellery on the same street that I reside, which is before you get to the popular Akure Motor Park on Ondo Road. These boys broke into my shop after robbing the whole compound and stole every item in the shop, including my computer and its accessories," she said.
Another affected resident, Mr Adekunle Alabi, lamented how he lost valuables worth millions of naira, including cash to robbers.
"Mr. Presenter, let me quickly tell you that there is no day that this hoodlums, who I believe have the backing of the Police. What we want is that you should help us reach out to the Inspector-General of Police to save our souls in Akure and its environs," he told the presenter.
Other residents said they have no trust in the Police.
"We suspect that some policemen are complicit. When you put an SoS call to police stations to report an ongoing robbery attack, no officer shows up to rescue you. Policemen will not arrive until the robbers must have left. And when they come, they will start arresting innocent young boys," he said.
SaharaReporters gathered from other residents that some of the robbers also operate in broad daylight, snatching vehicles and kidnapping residents for ransom.
"They now use motorcycles to rob people in banks and whisk away their victims for rape or ransom," a resident said.
Spokesman of the Ondo State Police Command, Mr. Femi Joseph, said the Police are doing their best to curtail robbery.
Mr. Joseph also confirmed to SaharaReporters that many cases of robbery have been reported.
"The Police are trying their best and we shall arrest these hoodlums, who have been terrorizing our people. I am very sure that their days are numbered. However, we have told our people to report cases of armed robbery attacks to the nearest Divisional Police Station for immediate treatment," Mr. Joseph explained.
He added that the telephone numbers of the various Divisional Police Officers and that of the control room have been issued out to members of the public in case emergency.
"So, if anyone of them refuses to act, as appropriate, then members of the public have the right to report such officers to the headquarters of the command or office of the Police Commissioner," he told SaharaReporters.