Churches under siege of burglars in Lagos
• Robbery attacks stop them from holding vigils in Ondo
The places of worship no longer seem revered in the light of recent burglary attack on churches in Lagos State. They have suddenly become the centre of attraction to robbers and burglars, who invade the church premises and cart away valuables.
In barely two weeks, more than 10 churches have reported incidences of break-in across the state. Christ the King Apostolic Church, Oke-Afa, Ejigbo a fortnight ago was visited by burglars before the dawn of Sunday, when the church would hold its worship service. Though attempts failed at gaining entry into the auditorium, two vehicles, including the church bus, parked in the premises, were severely vandalized.
This development, many believe is linked to the current recession, which is forcing many citizens to go for extreme measures in their search for daily bread. They see churches as soft targets, which pilfered materials easy to resell in the market.
But the churches lately are also not letting their guards down, as many have beefed up security around their premises. Others have gone to the extent of hiring live-in guards to safeguard church property, especially when service is not holding.
This is just as a branch of the Christ Apostolic Church in Mushin, is counting its loss after the premises was invaded and the resident pastor battered. The hoodlums went away with church monies and property. The same fate was meted out to members of a Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Ajegunle after robbers reportedly broke into the church and stole their sacred pots containing thanksgiving offering and tithes.
In the same Ajegunle neighbourhood, another church, Winners Life Ministry, was burgled.
Members of the church located at No. 3, St. Peter Street, Ajegunle, came for service only to discover to their consternation that their musical equipment set and public address system have been stolen.
Though, they conducted the service for the day without their musical equipment, they went further to investigate and discovered that one of the residents was allegedly involved in the burglary and promptly reported the matter to the police.
The suspect, Tobi Samson, was arrested and charged before an Apapa Magistrates’ Court on Friday with burglary and stealing under the Criminal Code.
According to police, Samson broke into the church and stole the equipment and some cables worth N260,000 and escaped. However, he pleaded not guilty.
The presiding magistrate, Mr. T. Abolarinwa, granted him bail in the sum of N200,000 with two sureties in like sum. He was remanded in prison custody pending when he will perfect his bail condition.
In a related development, residents of Akure, the Ondo State capital, have called on the state governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, and the state Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Hilda Harrison, to save them from incessant robbery attacks, which according to them occur on a daily basis.
It was gathered that some of the areas in the capital city, which always experience such robbery attacks included Leo, Fanibi, Lafe, Ondo Road, Olusegun Agagu Road, among others.
The residents said, in order not to fall victim of robbery attacks, many churches in the affected areas had stopped organizing daily, weekly and monthly vigils.
It would be recalled that in March some gangs of robbers invaded some churches during a vigil, carting away the offerings of the churches worth millions of naira.
One of the residents who spoke with our correspondent the condition of anonymity complained that the two police divisions in the affected areas were full of reports of the activities of the bandits on the residents, yet there was no solution to the problem from the police command.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Femi Joseph, urged the residents to call on the Divisional Police Officers in their area whenever there is robbery attack.