Despite the presence of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Awatse (an Hausa word for scatter), some militants in the wee hours of Sunday, again unleashed mayhem on Ishawo area of Ikorodu in Lagos State.
In what was described as a deadly ambush, the militants were said to have taken the security forces by surprise, therefore, gaining the upper hand.
THISDAY gathered that the militants struck at Woodland Estate, near the Ishawo creeks and engaged the security personnel, soldiers and policemen protecting the area in a gun duel.
At the end of the gun duel, five policemen and two soldiers were reportedly killed by the militants.
It was yet unclear if there were any casualties on the part of the militants, although the security forces were said to have reinforced and stormed the area for reconnaissance and possible action.
Meanwhile, the resurgence of militancy in Ishawo area has become worrisome to the residents, who often bear the brunt of their ruthless attacks and raids.
According to the residents, the militants’ raided their homes armed with dangerous weapons and robbed them of their valuables.
A resident, Atoba Faleye, said the militants seemed to have had upper hand over the security forces in the area, adding that in most cases, they were left to protect themselves.
He said: “When the military and the police chased out the militants from Ishawo last year, we heaved a sigh of relief. We never thought they would come back with full force.
“This is the bane of the society. There is no contingency plan put in place in case of a counter attack. The security forces relaxed their guards after their first victory and we are the ones paying the price now.
“We are again pleading with the state government to come to our aid. This matter has gone beyond us. We are living in fear.”
When contacted, the Lagos State Police Command Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, confirmed the incident, but said the actual casualty figure was six.
He said: “At about 1am today (Sunday), the police received a distress call that a group of militants and kidnappers had entered Owutu-Isawo in Ikorodu through the thick swampy forest surrounding the area.
“They were reported to have kidnapped some residents. In response, the police and the army immediately mobilised personnel to the area, where the kidnapped victims were rescued.
“Sadly, however, five out of the gallant, brave and patriotic officers lost their lives during the rescue operation.
“One of them was a Nigerian Army Captain while the remaining four were policemen. One of the residents in the area also died.
“Meanwhile, the command will like to assure the public that with the synergy from sister security agencies, the criminal elements involved in this dastardly act shall be apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law.
“We will continue to rely on the good people of Lagos State for useful information and their partnership.”