Oil vandals killed dozens at two communities on the outskirts of Lagos last month. Residents fled their homes after soldiers swooped in to quell the crisis. Now most of the residents still haven’t returned and there’s anxiety about the safety of people in the affected areas and the menace of these vandals.

There was some confusion initially about who the attackers were, and where they came from. However, residents who witnessed the incidents told SBM Intelligence that the attackers were Ijaw, and were known for bunkering in the area. They regularly tap oil from the pipelines and they often bribe community police to look the other way. They usually come into these riverine communities by boat and leave the same way, taking the tapped oil with them after selling some to locals.

These vandals often go about their work heavily armed but attack no one if they aren’t disturbed. Some residents say the recent attacks happened because community leaders tipped off soldiers about their activity and this enraged the enraged the vandals.

The soldiers arrested some of them when they intervened and also took away the body of some vandals who were killed. Nothing has since been heard about the body or those arrested.

Youths in the community are gutted that the police and soldiers didn’t forestall the attacks even though they probably knew about these vandals, and many of them have fled. They’re not planning to fight back. They have resigned themselves to the situation. However, soldiers and cops still patrol the communities during the day—although they now do so for fewer hours than before.

The community leaders have written to the government about the matter but there’s been no word yet in response. Meanwhile residents say they haven’t seen anything like this before in their communities. Violent crime happens sometimes, but this is different in terms of the mode of operation and scale of the attacks.

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