Residents of Balogun Close, Taoridi Street and Muniru Close in the Surulere area are angry with the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences Unit, at Bolade, Oshodi, for allegedly demanding N200,000 to flush out criminals from the areas.
The residents told PUNCH correspondent, who visited the areas, that once it was night time, the communities become beehives of criminal activities and drug peddling.
They stated that they had contacted the nearest police station for help, but the police never paid attention to their complaints as they seem helpless in curbing cultism and other criminal activities in the areas.
A resident, who identified himself simply as Abe, said they were stunned when the task force demanded money from them.
He said, “These people were supposed to be our safety custodians, but they are the ones extorting us.
“Operatives of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences Unit at Bolade, Oshodi, asked us to give them N200,000 for them to do a thorough job for us.”
Another resident, who identified himself simply as Tunde, said when they tried everything without success, they went to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Panti, Yaba, to lodge a complaint.
He added that while at Panti, they told the police that the most worrisome situation was that whenever a fight broke out in Orile, Aguda or Ijesha, the hoodlums always use their areas as the meeting point.
He noted that cultists share their loot, smoke hemp, snatch bags from women, rape some of them and sniff cocaine in the areas.
Tunde stated, “After the last incident, we raised a new team, which went to Panti. When we got there, we told them that we had written many letters to the nearest police station, which has not been able to handle the situation.
“We never got a response from the station. These things are becoming more serious by the day.
“They told us that it was only then that they would act on it. We took the redrafted letter back. One of the guys there asked us, ‘Can you foot the bill?’ I didn’t respond. I dropped the letter and left.
“I was surprised by the question; foot which bill? If I said, ‘yes’, they would ask me how much and if I said, ‘no’, they would say we were not ready.
“Since then, we have not heard from them, not even the surveillance they promised to conduct before a definitive action could be taken.”
Tunde stated that one of the Community Development Associations around the area claimed to have paid N500,000 to the police to rid the area of cultists and drug peddlers.
The Public Relations Officer of the task force, Mr Adebayo Taofiq, said the agency was not in the habit of demanding money from members of the public to carry out its statutory functions.
He stated that what the task force required from members of the public was information about criminal hideouts in order for it to serve them better.
Taofiq said, “I have the letter they wrote to the agency. Well, in fairness, I cannot say anything regarding that letter. But I just want you to understand that we don’t demand anything from any member of the public before we carry out our statutory responsibilities.
“If you know of any criminal disturbing any community across the state, your duty is to supply us with the information, while our own is to carry out enforcement.
“So, there has never been a case of any task force personnel requesting money from members of the public before going to an area to work.”