The first sign of disquiet, which a first-time visitor may encounter in the Ikorodu area as he approaches the Igbo-Olomu and Isawo communities, is the ubiquitous presence of a dark green Lagos Task Force vehicle stationed at a major turning.
During a visit to the area on Monday morning, our correspondent observed that heavily armed military personnel had taken different positions on the road, screening and frisking commuters. There was an uneasy calm around the junction. The silence contrasted sharply with the usual cacophony arising from buying and selling in the area, as well as the sound of speeding commercial motorcycles, popularly called okada.
Beyond the junction, the plains and valleys of Igbo Olomu and Isawo, leading to the creeks separating the areas from Arepo in neighbouring Ogun State, also swarmed with soldiers.
It was less than a week after the military started an offensive against suspected pipeline vandals, who had terrorised residents on the coastline, forcing many of them to flee with their families.
But the situation was still far from normal when our correspondent visited some of the communities in the area on Monday. Muti, Elepete, Kajola, Ola Imam and other communities on the flank of Isawo and Igbo Olomu were already deserted. Haunted by endless abductions, rape, armed robbery and deaths, the residents had since abandoned their homes and fled these communities. The few that defiantly chose to stay were seen on Monday nursing the wounds inflicted on them by their tormentors.
One of the residents named Bola Omotunde, a self-employed woman in Kajola community, spoke to our correspondent from a partition on her window. Speaking in a low tone, the mother of three recounted what happened in the community on Sunday.