By Ekamma UBA, Senior Staff Investigator Writer, Lagos.
POLICE in Lagos have raised the alarm over the influx of kidnappers infiltrating into churches, mosques and other worship centers in the state while pretending to be genuine parishioners. These fictitious worshippers it was gathered would later sneak into the children’s department, study the situation and when it is favourable, they would steal any children that strays into their dragnet. The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Imohimi Edgal who dropped this hint Monday while briefing newsmen on this recent trend in child kidnap and sundry achievements in crime fighting in the state said his team of crack detectives have been to arrest four of these hoodlums who come into Lagos from Port Harcourt to perpetrate this heinous crime. Though the CP neither gave names of the arrested kidnappers nor further details of their arrest, he however, said he was constrained to brief the press to alert heads of the various worship centers to be extra-vigilant during worship hours. According to him, “Let me use this opportunity to inform Lagosains especially, churches, mosques and other worship centers to pay extra vigilance to those coming to worship with them as some could be kidnappers pretending to be parishioners. We have on good authority that hoodlums posing as worshipers come into the church and then they managed to infiltrate into the children department and when the ushers and the children’s church teachers manning the children department are not vigilant or are distracted, any kid that strays is stolen. We have two cases of such in some of the churches in Lagos, so I am using this opportunity to call on all churches and mosques in Lagos State to beef security awareness and of course, general security around the children department during worship hours; including on Sundays and any other worship days where they know that children would be around. Fortunately for us, in these two cases we have made significant breakthrough and arrested four of these hoodlums who come into Lagos from Port Harcourt. They come from Port Harcourt, pretend as worshippers in the church of their choice, steal the kids and disappear back to Port Harcourt. We have been able to track them using their various accounts details and they are assisting us in the investigation. But we would not keep quiet until investigations are concluded before letting Lagosians know this recent trend in kidnapping children from worship centers; this is therefore my clarion call to all churches, mosques and worship centers to be vigilant. I expect that from now, churches and mosques whenever they want to hold their service should liaise with the Divisional Police Officer DPO in their locality to send two categories of officers to be around them during worship. The first category would be in uniform and would be responsible for outer security and to protect the vehicles while the second category will be plain clothed Policemen or women as the case maybe. This has become necessary in view of the recent modus operandi of these hoodlums from outside the state. But I want to assure everybody that with the few arrests we have made we are closing in to rounding up the entire syndicate. However, let us be vigilant.”
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