In a classic case of proactive policing, policemen from Ikotun Police Division early in the morning of Sunday, October 4, foiled an assassination attempt by a group of bloodthirsty hoodlums on a businessman.
The suspected criminals chose a very auspicious time that Sunday morning when people were preparing for church services to visit the Ogunfowora estate, an elite residential part of Ikotun with tears and blood. Unfortunately for them, however, they walked into a well laid out ambush by the police.
The day had begun like any other typical Sunday. It showed no signs of being an unforgettable day for residents of Ogunfowora Estate on Abaranje Road, Ikotun, a Lagos suburb. Residents prepared for church services while those who were not going to church lolled in their beds, some listening to radio and others simply enjoying the pleasure of a work-free day.
Ironically, it was a day that marked the end of the road for a gang of criminals who for more than three weeks had been perfecting their plans to eliminate a resident of the estate simply identified as Godfrey. Sources at the police station who craved anonymity said that the criminals were unaware that the police had picked intelligence report of their nefarious plans and placed them under surveillance weeks before the D – Day.
While the plan to kill the businessman, Godfrey went on, the police worked ahead of them, determined to catch them red-handed. Realising that informing Godfrey about the impending attack could trigger panic, which could bungle the operation, the police worked underground by placing the family under protective surveillance without the knowledge of Godfrey and his family members.
When the police were satisfied that the plan had reached a crescendo and the D-day set for one of the days in the Sallah holiday, the police moved in swiftly and spirited the family away to a more secure place far away from their newly built mansion. The operation, coordinated by the divisional police officer (DPO), Ikotun Police Station Mr. Ekete, a chief superintendent of police (CSP) and led by the head of operations, Ikotun Police Division, Mr. Alade, an assistant superintendent of police, looked like what one could see in a movie. Day and night all through the public holidays, the police laid an ambush at in the mansion at Ogunfowora estate, determined not to be caught unawares and not to let the hoodlums escape.
According to sources, when the police were beginning to think the criminals might have changed their mind, they came Sunday morning around 8am. Unknown to them that they were walking into a trap, they knocked and the guard opened the gate for them. They asked for his boss and he directed them inside the house, acting as was directed by the police officers. Surprisingly, the gang, which came in one tricycle, otherwise known as Keke Marwa, and one motorcycle, okada, numbered six men. The men were led by a former driver of Godfrey, Azeez, who resigned his appointment some two months back. Being a familiar face in the compound and knowing the terrain of the estate very well, he knew that the estate was always very quiet on Sunday, particularly in the morning. Apparently, Azeez was quite confident that he would have an easy entry into the compound.
As they made for the entrance of the gate and about to cover their faces with masks, the staccato sound of `gunshots by the police paralysed them. They simply did not expect such a welcome party. As part of the elaborate grand plan, a police patrol van fully loaded with armed-to-the-teeth policemen stood by all night in a nearby street during these four days and four nights of operation.
At the sound of the gunshots, the police reinforcement arrived to cordon off the entire estate. However, while four of the assassins were arrested, two that were on standby took to their heels and managed to escape upon hearing the gunshots. Those caught had in their possessions, guns, machetes, axes and face masks.
A resident of Ogunfowora estate who did not want his name in print described the event as one capable of making one feel proud of the Nigerian police.
“Look, let me tell you, the police are working, it is we Nigerians that are underrating the Nigerian police. What happened here is something else,” he said.
Narrating what happened that morning, the resident said his family just left for church and shortly after, gunshots began to ring out from a newly completed mansion in the estate, very close to his house.
“My family just left for church and because I wasn’t feeling too well, I didn’t go to church. Not quite long after they left, sporadic gunshots rang out from the house nearby. At first, I was tempted to think it was some fireworks by Muslims still in celebration mood. But the frequency of the shots, followed by barking orders, told me it was a robbery going on. In fact, I hid in my bedroom, peeping through the window to see what was going on. As the shooting continued, I thought the end had come because with the quietude of the estate on this Sunday morning, anyone they caught was a dead man. I was even more scared, especially when I saw men with guns jump out of the compound spilling into the street.”
Even after the gunshots stopped and the police patrol vehicle came with loads of policemen, no resident had the guts to step out to see what was happening.
“My brother, no one had the liver to come out to see what was happening. I thank the police for such a good job because I later found out those carrying guns and moving up and down the streets were police detectives. It was not until I saw the secretary of the estate walk pass my house towards the policemen that I found the legs to stand up and come down to see what was happening. It was also the presence of the secretary that now encouraged other residents to troop out to inquire what happened. This is simply police work at its best,” he said excitedly.
“Even though the estate is one of the most secure places in Ikotun, with security in place both day and night, the criminals still had the courage to come into the estate to carry out such a dastardly act. Thank God their plans did not work out.”
The Chairman of Ogunfowora Estate Community Development Association, Alhaji Kamor Ogunfowora described the successful operation by the police as a hallmark of modern day policing, noting that it deserved commendation. He said that OECDA had in fact sent a letter of commendation to the Ikotun Police Division in appreciation of their constant presence in the estate, which he noted had made the place a waterloo for many criminals.
The chairman asserted that police effectiveness could only be enhanced when Nigerians realized that timely information to the police was key to proactive policing, stressing that security was everyone’s business. He said the estate had adopted stiffer security measures, including the ban of okada and the restrictions of keke into the estate to specific periods of the day, introduction of resident stickers and installation of security cameras. He said undercover security operatives had been deployed for day and night patrols in the estate.