Robbers Raid Lagos Churches On New Year’s Day

Robbers Raid Lagos Churches On New Year’s Day

An eight-man robbery gang on New Year’s Day raided two churches in Oshodi area of Lagos and also robbed some of the residents.

Robbers Raid Lagos Churches On New Year’s Day

PUNCH Metro learnt on Thursday that the robbery which took place on Aimasiko and Afariogun streets began around 3:30am and lasted for over an hour.

The churches attacked were Temple Rebuilders Ministry and Renewed Christian Word Mission.

The senior pastor, Temple Rebuilders Ministry, Barnabas Otoibhi, told our correspondent that the hoodlums attacked the churches after the vigil.

He said, “We ended our vigil around 1:30am and most of the congregants went home. However, some others stayed behind to sleep and decided to leave when it was daybreak. The hoodlums broke in around 4am.

“They tied up all the members and dispossessed them of their phones, money and other valuables. The robbers then headed for my office and vandalised the wooden demarcation. They asked for where the safe was and ransacked the entire church.

“The robbers even took the drinks that were in the freezer. One of them took a 12-year-old girl in the church and attempted to rape her but the others asked him not to do it.”

A member of the church, Cyril Akhabue, who was beaten up by the hoodlums, said some of the robbers were not armed.

He said, “When the robbers came, only one of them entered the church so I thought it was just one person. When I had the opportunity, I got into a fight with him but as the fight raged, seven others appeared from nowhere and started beating me.

“I was beaten up and then two of them showed me guns. The others wielded cutlasses, crowbars and chisels. The robbers did not wear masks and they took their time to rob us. At least N30, 000 was collected from one church member while others were robbed of their wristwatches, earrings, necklaces. We were all tied up and were asked to lie down.”

When our correspondent visited the second church, Renewed Christian Word Mission, the pastor was said not to be around.

However, a worker in the church, who identified himself simply as Felix, confirmed that the church was also attacked.

He said, “Around 4am, I was ironing my clothes when I heard a female church member running and screaming. When I tried to see what was going on, I saw five armed men.

“They ordered us to lie down and then they took our phones and money, shoes, bags. They also took some church equipment like cameras, mixers and musical instruments.

“This is about the third time they would be robbing this church within a period of three months. In December, the robbers took two generators and other church equipment and we reported to Makinde Police Division.”

PUNCH Metro investigations revealed that at least three other churches had been robbed in the area in four months.

Otoibhi said church robberies had become commonplace in the area in recent times.

 “Two months ago, robbers attacked a Redeemed Christian Church of God parish on Eyinogun Street, Mafoluku while a Foursquare Gospel Church parish on Afariogun Street was also robbed in December. In October, a Christ Apostolic Church was robbed in Okeleye Street,” he said.

A resident, who craved anonymity, said apart from churches, residents and pedestrians were also being robbed at will by the robbers.

The resident said police had stopped their usual patrols about five months ago, giving robbers the leeway to attack them.

He said, “It’s no longer news that from Charity Bus Stop to 7 and 8 Bus Stop on Airport Road and under the bridge at Toyota Bus Stop on Oshodi/Apapa Expressway and the flyover which leads to Mafoluku, armed robbers usually attack people there

“It’s so bad to the extent that when people are going to work between 5am and 6am, robbers attack them.”

The spokesperson for the state police command, Ngozi Braide, could not be reached for comment.

A senior officer however said the Divisional Police Officer, Chikezie Okezie, would be summoned to the command headquarters over the incident.

 “The command will summon the DPO because all DPOs across the state were warned by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko, to provide security around churches in the state and to also lead all operations within their jurisdictions,” he said.

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