Nigeria: Lagos residents defend homes against curfew bandits

2 weeks back, when Nigeria’s federal government bought an upcoming lockdown of the 3 essential states of Lagos, Ogun and Abuja to alleviate the spread of the coronavirus, residents were encouraged to remain at home and observe the quarantine.

The statement triggered Wasiu Kolawole to go on a last-minute shopping spree to stockpile on food for the next 14 days, along with buy fuel for a generator to power his home in Lagos.

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The 54- year-old, a business bus chauffeur, was anticipating investing some quality time with his 4 children. A lot of days, he leaves his house in Lagos’s Iju-Ishaga location  prior to they get up and in some cases returns home after they have actually currently gone to sleep.

4 days into the lockdown, nevertheless, this downtime with his family was disrupted when a criminal gang stormed a close-by street to rob residents of their personal belongings.

” I awakened around 1am and I heard some neighbours calling and shouting for people to come out and defend them. It was like a film scene. I made my method to the entryway of the house and learnt that other neighbours were all out with weapons [such as machetes and clubs],” Kolawole informed Al Jazeera.

“I quickly ran back into the house to fetch my machete and joined other residents to form a barricade to prevent the hoodlums from invading our street. We stayed awake until 7am before dispersing to our homes.”

The fast mobilisation led to  Kolawole  and his instant neighbours not coming under attack – unlike residents of 2 close-by streets. Equipped with clubs, machetes and iron rod, the burglars rummaged homes, hauled away belongings and hurt some residents who argued.

That was not the first time the neighborhood was targeted by criminal gangs.  Kolawole got his machete, which he keeps close to his bedside, after being robbed in 2018.

Instructor Awosusi Ahmed keeping vigil in front of his Lagos home to avoid attacks on his family [Al Jazeera]

With comparable attacks likewise occurring in other locations of Lagos throughout the lockdown, some residents have actually now formed vigilante groups to keep guard against possible area looters. 

Residents in Alagbado, a Lagos suburban area, stated they had actually likewise handled the obligation of protecting their homes following an attack by a group of bandits.

“My decision to join the vigilante is to protect my home because . the government is not doing their job,” Awosusi Ahmed, a local, informed Al Jazeera.

“I would have been in my own abode, sleeping, with the confidence that the police is doing their job. But since I’ve not received any help from the police, and I’m not expecting any help from them as well, so I have to be strong,” he stated.

Such occurrences are not limited to Lagos, Nigeria’s business capital, as some neighborhoods in neighbouring Ogun state have actually likewise reported comparable attacks.

On Monday, the authorities stated they were reinforcing forces in Lagos and Ogun “in the wake of recent activities of hoodlums and street urchins in the border communities” and revealed the arrest of practically 200 suspects.

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In the wake of current activities of hooligans and street urchins in the border neighborhoods in between Lagos and Ogun States,

—– Nigeria Police (@PoliceNG) April 13, 2020

‘ It refers life and death’

There are currently 343 validated cases of coronavirus in Nigeria, consisting of 11 deaths. Lagos is the epicentre of the pandemic in the nation.

The federal government was anticipated to raise the lockdown on Monday, however President Muhammadu Buhari revealed a 14- day extension throughout a telecasted address.

“It is a matter of life and death,” Buhari stated of the country’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. “The repercussions of any premature end to the lockdown action are unimaginable.” 

There have actually been blended responses to the statement as some residents were anticipating going back to work and earning money.

“I don’t think this lockdown can work because there was no provision for the people,” Adedayo Olamide, 43, informed Al Jazeera.

“No salary, no nothing. When the groceries we have at home is finished, what do we do? What’s the next thing?”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari revealed a 14- day extension of the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja throughout a telecasted address [Reuters]

Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country with a population of more than 200 million. Some 20 million live in the megacity of Lagos, most of whom operate in the casual sector.

The extension of the lockdown is anticipated to add to the challenge of millions of Nigerians living hand-to-mouth, frequently on less than one dollar a day.

Beginning on April 1, the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry started paying 20,000 naira ($52) to households in the national social register of susceptible and bad families.

Buhari has actually likewise bought that “the current social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks. This means we will support an additional one million homes with our social investment programmes.”

However residents grumbled that the interventions do not go far enough.

“The government’s failure to disclose key details of the cash transfer program has also cast doubt on how many people it includes and who will benefit,” Human Rights See, a US-based NGO, stated in a declaration.

“Millions of Nigerians observing the COVID-19 lockdown lack the food and income that their families need to survive,” Anietie Ewang, the group’s Nigeria scientist, stated.

On April 6, Financing Minister Zainab Ahmed stated oil-rich  Nigeria had actually asked for $6.9 bn from international lending institutions to alleviate the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, Africa’s most populated nation has actually seen its earnings plunge following a drop in oil costs.