Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos
The Lagos State Police Command yesterday raised the alarm over the increasing wave of cult activities within the metropolis, even as it beefed up security around key government establishments for the Ramadan.
In a statement by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Kenneth Nwosu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), the command said it has observed with dismay the disturbing activities of cult groups and other associated criminal gangs in the state.
This is coming on the heels of the report that no fewer that 15 persons were killed and several others wounded Saturday evening when suspected cultists opened fire at Agbonchia Market in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Nwosu said neighbourhoods and communities in Lagos like Mushin, Ikorodu, Lagos Island and environs have been rendered vulnerable by the activities of these hoodlums.
He said: “It has become imperative that we issue this advisory to parents and guardians to warn their children and wards to be wary of the type of friends and associates they keep.
“The activities of these hoodlums are the root of armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of violent crimes being experienced in our neighbourhoods.
“The safety of communities is a collective responsibility between the police and the communities and therefore urged the populace to report activities of cultists to the nearby police station.
“We therefore urge you to avail us of credible information and actionable intelligence to ensure that crime and criminalities are kept at their barest minimum.”
Meanwhile, he said the beefing up of security within the metropolis was ahead of the end of the Ramadan fasting period. He urged members of the public to be more security conscious and to also report the movement of strange faces within their locality.
According to him, “The state police command has put in place a very proactive and responsive security template to ensure that the celebrations are hitch-free.
“However, we urge all residents to be at alert at all times and report any suspicious persons, their activities and happenings in their areas to us through the following GSM numbers: 08063299264, 08127155071, 08079279349, 08065154338, 08127155150, 07035068242, 08060357795 or Toll free lines 767 and 112.
“The task of securing Lagos is a collective responsibility, so let us all join hands with the police to achieve it.”
In Rivers State however, THISDAY gathered that some gun-wielding cultists, numbering about three, who rode on a motorcycle, shot severally at people at a section of the market, killing no fewer than 15 persons and injuring several others.
But the police said that only five people were killed in the incident.
A female eyewitness, who did not want to be named said: “The people came into the market with a motorcycle and were about three. We thought they came to wash their motorcycle, but before we knew it, they started shooting at the people who were washing their motorcycles.
“Immediately after shooting, they jumped on top of their bikes and sped off. At the end, we saw not less than 15 lifeless bodies on the ground and several others with gunshot injuries. We don’t know the reason behind the ugly incident.”
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ahmad Muhammad, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), who confirmed the shooting, said only five persons were killed in the incident.
Muhammad stated that one person had been arrested in connection with the attack, adding that preliminary investigation by the police revealed that the incident was an attack by a cult group.
He said: “The assailants came on motorcycles, opened fire on people washing their motorcycles at Agbonchia Eleme and fled. Five persons lost their lives.
“Preliminary investigation revealed the incident is related to cult activities. One suspect is right now undergoing interrogation, while investigation with a view of arresting the fleeing miscreants has commenced.”