There was chaos on Tuesday on Pacific Estate, Ikejiobi Avenue, Ewedogbon, in the Igando area of Lagos State after some militants engaged security operatives in a gun battle for about seven hours.
During the encounter, three policemen attached to the Igando Police Division and two residents, identified as Baba Victor and Adedokun, were injured.
Our correspondent gathered that the gunmen, who were suspected to be militants, had invaded the community around 6am through the waterways behind the estate.
They were said to have looted some shops on the estate.
It was learnt that when the matter was reported at the Igando division, a police team was deployed in the area around 8am.
The policemen were said to have engaged the bandits in a gun battle, during which three policemen were shot.
Although one of the policemen was shot in the head, the police said he survived the attack and was receiving treatment in a government hospital.
During the gun battle, some residents were said to have regained their freedom from the militants, who had earlier abducted them.
When our correspondent got to the estate around 9am, four streets – Ojo Benjamin, Kehinde Ashafa, Ganiyu Adekunle and Ikejiobi – had been deserted.
A landlord in the area, who identified himself only as Olayinka, said there were women among the militants, who also looted shops and escaped with foodstuffs.
He said, “The attacks started in Fatoki community, Igando, on Saturday. We did not know it was our turn this morning (Tuesday). At about 6.30am, they came into the estate, shooting and moving around the streets.
“Everyone ran inside and bolted the doors. They caught a resident, Baba Victor, on his motorcycle, and took him away. They cut him with machetes, but he escaped during the gun battle with the police.
“They smashed the vehicles they found on the streets. They broke into shops and stole frozen foods, bags of rice and garri. They were about 15 men. The hoodlums did not cover their faces and there were women among them. Some of us were watching them from our houses.”
While PUNCH Metro was talking with the landlord, gunfire exchange between the operatives and hoodlums sent everyone scurrying to safety again.
Our correspondent observed some residents – women and children – leaving the area at about 2pm.
Soldiers on the streets searched their luggage as they filed out in groups.
One of the women said, “I was sweeping the corridor of my house around 6.30am when people suddenly started running, saying some hoodlums were coming with guns. Immediately I bolted my door, the gunshots started. From the keyhole, I saw four of the men. A boy of about 20 years was in the front. He wore a red cap with coconut in his hand and a charm on his chest. The three others had guns and shot into the air sporadically.”
Thirteen police vans, two Rapid Response Squad armoured tanks and three OP MESA vans were sighted at the bus stop with displaced residents numbering over 200 people.
A policeman, who had gone to the waterside, said the gunmen arrived at the riverside around 6am, adding that they could have collaborators in the estate.
He said, “The attackers are Ijaw youths. They are young, slim and can easily swim away in water. They shot at us and three policemen were injured. They saw us and laid an ambush. When we got to a section of the river, they began to shoot. We replied the bullets. But three policemen were hit and injured.”
When PUNCH Metro left the area by 2.30pm, the gun battle was still ongoing while a suspected hideout of the hoodlums around the waterside was set ablaze.
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, said the police had yet to make any arrest, but normalcy had been restored to the area.
She said, “Some group of people invaded the area in the early hours of Tuesday. Operatives were alerted and moved in to foil the attack. Normalcy has been restored in the vicinity. No policeman died in the incident. The command is still on the trail of the suspects.”