Members of the joint military task force yesterday stormed a community in Ikorodu and cordoned off Western Lodge Hotel where suspected militants cum oil pipeline vandals were. The hotel is located on Isawo Road, Agric area of Ikorodu in Lagos State.

It was learnt that the militants were in the hotel to celebrate the birthday of the girlfriend of one of their leaders. Sources said that immediately members of the joint military task force deployed in the creeks to flush out militants in the coastal communities of Lagos and Ogun states got wind of the presence of the vandals’ leader, they moved in swiftly and laid siege to the hotel to stop him from escaping.

A resident, who did not want his name in print, told our correspondent that they were about to start the birthday party when the military men stormed the area and held everybody inside the hotel hostage.

He said: “The presence of the military men in the hotel signifies that something terrible is happening, because some of us in the neighbourhood had been praying fervently for the government to seal the hotel.

Many of the bad boys in the community and its environs are using the facility as their hideout.” Another resident, who identified himself simply as Adekunle, said the displaced leader of the militants disguised as a woman into the hotel, thinking that people around would not identify him. He said: “The Western Lodge Hotel has been in the news for bad things for long.

Last Thursday, men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) came to the hotel to arrest some notorious criminals disturbing Ikorodu and its environs. “Some of us who have buildings close to the hotel hardly allow our children to go outside at night because of the indecent dressing of some of the underage prostitutes who patronise the hotel. We are happy with the arrest of the lodgers.

Personally, I am not praying for the reopening of the hotel.” When our correspondent visited the area yesterday, an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) and two vans were positioned in front of the hotel, while all those in the hotel – the lodgers, workers, and invited guests to the said birthday party – were rounded off and gathered in a hall.

The suspected leader of the militants, his loyalists and girlfriend were said to have been kept in a separate place to avoid a mix-up, while some of the military men guarded them.

Adekunle added that some of the militants, before the military bombardment, were using the hotel as their resting place. He added that they also used to lodge some of their partners in crime in the hotel before moving them into the creeks. Meanwhile, the Lagos State government said yesterday it had sealed off Western Lodge Hotel for allegedly harbouring criminals.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, made the announcement in a statement. Ayorinde also reassured the general public that the protection of lives and property of wellmeaning and peace-loving residents remained government’s priority.

Lagos had earlier warned that it would confiscate buildings occupied by criminals or used as hideouts by militants or kidnappers. It also warned members of the public not to allow any building to be used by criminals.

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