Residents of Lagos and Ogun have expressed worries over reports that suspected Boko Haram members yesterday overtook the Sagamu area of Ogun State and were headed for Lagos.
The news was spread through social media and text messages.
The message read: “Breaking news. If you are on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway going towards Ibadan, please turn back. Eighteen suspected Boko Haram members with AK47 rifles are on the highway now displaying their skills.
“Nine policemen and 11 civilians have been confirmed dead by the gunmen while trying to stop them from shooting. Please rebroadcast to save a life. May God help us in Nigeria.”
It was learnt that upon receiving the information, various security agencies deployed their personnel to the affected areas. Policemen from Lagos, Ogun and Oyo immediately swung into action with helicopters, while the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) rushed to the scene, hoping to save some lives.
On getting to the scene, however, there was no sign of any terrorist attack.
Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, Umar Manko, confirmed that there was indeed a row in the area, but said it had nothing to do with terrorists.
“In the morning, a truck laden with wheat around Fidiwo Village in Ogun State broke down,” he said.
“Some hoodlums wanted to seize the opportunity to steal some of the goods and there was a confrontation. There was no terrorist attack.”
Manko urged members of the public not to spread anxiety by broadcasting false messages.
“We cannot police social media; all we can do is to correct wrong impression, but we want to urge members of the public not to spread falsehood.”
Public Relations Officer of the Police in Ogun, Muyiwa Adejobi, said the Nigerian Army, the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps were able to move the vehicle from the scene.
“Probably the rumour mongers took in the presence of Police and other security agencies who were at the point to clear the obstruction between Fidiwo and Ogunmakin in Obafemi Owode Local Government, and decided that there was something wrong. We urge the public to disregard the rumour.”
Spokesman of NEMA, South-West zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, added that the soldiers under the Military Joint Task Force had also been deployed to Ogere, as 20 policemen were rumoured to have been killed in the area.
He lamented that people capitalise on the security situation in the country to put fear in the minds of people.
Also in the response team on the false alert are Military JTF, State Security Service, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and the Police from Ogun, Lagos and Oyo States, with the deployment of police aerial chopper. They all carried out searches and surveillance in the area.
Policemen at Kara, a border area between Lagos and Ogun States, were also said to have mounted a temporary roadblock as part of efforts to forestall entry of Boko Haram members.
A senior police officer also at the scene explained that security agents quickly responded to the distress call, as they do not want to take any chances. ‘
‘We checked vehicles, especially trucks entering into Lagos.
“There was traffic congestion, but after we had confirmed that there was no cause for alarm, we allowed vehicles to move freely.’
The Oyo State Police Command subsequently dispelled the rumour of Boko Haram attack, urging residents to desist from spreading false information.
“The story that 18 suspected Boko Haram members operated on the highway with AK47 rifles, killing nine policemen and 11 civilians is untrue,” command’s spokesperson, SP Olabisi Okuwobi-Ilobanafor, said .
“There was an occurrence of a lone auto accident involving a trailer loaded with bags of wheat. FRSC officials, policemen and other security officers were only at the scene to control traffic and clear the gridlock.”
The false alarm caused panic, forcing many motorists driving Moving into Lagos to turn back.