By Adetutu Salako and Henry Ekemezie:The Guardian
Ikorodu community laments invasion of church burglars
A pastor of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church of Zion at Igando area of Lagos State, simply identified as Governor Peretun, and 47-year-old mother of seven, Ebimobe JoJo have been arrested for allegedly storing guns and preparing food for militants.
The militants were part of those who repeatedly invaded Ewedogbon community in Igando two months ago and wreaked havoc on residents.According to a police source, the pastor was aiding the militants in pipeline vandalism. “Even the boats used in the Agbara bank robbery operation where a policeman was shot dead last year were kept in his custody.”
However, the pastor has denied the allegation. Peretun said he was once a fisherman but abandoned the trade after the Holy Spirit ‘directed’ him to move into the creek and establish a church there. The suspect said he was about to board a bus at Iba Bus Stop, heading to Ondo State, when police detectives arrested him.
“After I built my church, I opened up the waterways to allow people to start paddling their boats through the routes. After a while, I started buying fuel from the militants. I used to buy 50 liters for N1,000. Then I would resell for N1,500, which was how we became friends.
“They used to visit me and I also repay the gesture by visiting them in the creek. There was a time operatives of Department of State Services (DSS) stormed the creek. I was arrested. After explaining myself to them, I was set free. They, however, warned me to stop buying from the militants, but I didn’t heed to their warning.”Stating her own side of the story, JoJo said she used to buy fuel from the militants in the creek. “I used to go with food for them so that they would sell fuel to me on credit. When they saw that I used to come with food, they told me to be preparing food for them. They said they couldn’t come out of the creek.
“Whenever I go to buy fuel from them, the leader of the militants called TK and his boys are always armed with AK47. They are also dressed in military uniform. Initially, I thought they were soldiers,” she said.According to the police, Peretun’s face was captured while he was hiding the militants’ guns. The secret camera also captured Jojo’s face while she was taking food to the militants in the creek with the aid of the drones deployed into the coastal area after the militants’ gun-battle with policemen.
In another development, residents of Offin-Ile in Ikorodu area of Lagos have been living in fear over incessant attacks by hoodlums on their churches. With an estimated population of over 10,000 people, the rural community has been under siege of attacks from shop burglars and armed robbers. The air of insecurity has been heightened by recent burgling of five churches in the community, which include St. Catherine Catholic Church, the Living Spring Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and three branches of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC).
All the affected churches were burgled on different days in the last one week during wee hours, with musical instruments, generating sets, loud speakers and huge sum of money carted away.According to Pastor Akintayo of the Living Spring Parish, “we returned from the monthly Holy Ghost convention of the church along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to meet the church burgled, with all our musical instruments and public address equipment stolen.”
Reacting to the incidents, the community leader, Chief Monsuru Oluwaseyi, sympathized with the church leaders and their members. He advised them to beef up security and be vigilant at all times. On his part, he said he had set up a Security Committee represented by the 19 Community Development Areas (CDAs) to empower the vigilance group in providing adequate security.
“This is strange. I feel very sad because it took several years for these growing churches to get to the level they are. We will do our possible best to apprehend the thieves. The community has just one entrance and exit for road users and another single entry route through the waterways. We don’t have a police post here and the roads are in terrible condition. We need streetlights and night police patrols,” he said.Some residents have attributed the high rate of crime in the community to the harsh economy and recent ban on land speculators (Omonile), who sell landed property.