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Lagos Touts Hide Snatched Phones, Cash In Manholes

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RESIDENTS of Isolo and other neighbouring communities in Oshodi, Lagos have decried the increase in heinous activities perpetrated by touts and criminal gangs along that axis on daily basis. These include snatching of phones and cash from hapless people, especially at night.

   The activities of the hoodlums are particularly noticeable at Oshodi, Iyana Isolo up to Five Star and Toyota Bus Stops, where they have designated manholes used as vaults for stashing away their loot, as well as hide after carrying out their evil acts along Apapa/Oshodi Expressway.      

   The questions on the lips of many residents and victims in these areas are: who is going to put a stop to all this harassment? Are we going to be at the mercy of these hoodlums forever? On account of these activities, people are losing their freedom and properties, as they get dispossessed of their cash, phones and trinkets. Indeed, it is as if the new wave of crime is spreading rapidly across the city.

    Some of the residents, who narrated their ordeal to The Guardian, explained that these unwelcome guests operate very early in the mornings and late at night, targeting people on their way to work and business, as well as those returning late from work or the market. They said the robbers often threaten their victims with pistols and other dangerous weapons to dispossess them of their valuable materials and cash. 

   Adetayo Oluwa, a temporary resident in Isolo said the development has created fear in them and they just don’t know what to do to halt the ugly trend. Said he:

  “Before now, I learned people here were living in peace. But I had a taste of the ugly experience last week, while coming from Ogun State to see my uncle, who resides in Isolo. I got to Iyana Isolo Bus Stop around 10.00pm and although I was a little apprehensive, but I felt courageous on seeing some policemen who stationed an armoured tank along Apapa/Oshodi Expressway. My uncle had come to the Express to take me home.

 “My Uncle and I were standing just a few metres from where the policemen were, when three men brandishing some dangerous-looking weapons accosted us, demanding that we handed over all our valuables. We decided to comply with their directive, as we were at their mercy. Before the policemen realised what was happening, the hoodlums had dispossessed us of our valuables and disappeared into thin air.” 

    At Five Star Bus Stop, Efiong Ekitte, a commuter also narrated how he was attacked, while alighting from a commercial bus he boarded from Mile 2 to Five Star Bus Stop.

   “My phone rang and while taking the call, some hoodlums just approached me and collected it. Before I could raise an alarm, they had disappeared,” he told The Guardian.

  David Adeniji, a landlord in Papa Ajao said that the police usually arrive some 30 minutes after every operation, while blaming residents for not calling them early enough.

   “We are beginning to suspect that the police are in the know of their operations because it is unimaginable that they can’t spread their networks, as residents regularly report to them each time the gangs strike”, he said.

    The residents explain that the gangs randomly raid buildings on different streets, almost daily. One of them informed that the robbers, all young men of school age, rob victims of their laptops, smartphones and money. 

  A victim, who was attacked at Toyota Bus Stop, said wild-looking young men snatched his phone. He informed that some touts also go about in the evening, threatening innocent passers-by with what look like guns to rob them of their personal belonging.

  “These people usually gather at bus stops, where they gulp bottles of local gin and smoke through the evening. The hoodlums also molest ladies with their ugly, frightening voices,” he said. 

  Kate Omar said she had to find a way to stop coming home late at night from work because of fear of being raped by the touts.

  “The Police seem incapable of checking the excesses of these hoodlums, hence the growing crime rate. Residents are entertaining the fear that crime rate may continue to grow if the criminals are not apprehended,” she said.

    Commenting on what could have been responsible for the incessant harassment and such other evil acts, Eze Mark, a passerby said: 

  “If a man has a decent job that fetches him enough money to feed his family and an extra to save for the future, he would not dare risk his life for robbery or surrender himself to serve as a tool for societal terrorism.” 

 Also commenting on the rising wave of robbery and violence in Lagos State, Kafayat Olabisi said that her community recently suffered societal menace in the hands of some young male criminals.

   “These young men would always congregate at a bar in my area in Oshodi, where they usually smoke prohibited substances. And before you realise it, they would start robbing strangers and unwary visitors in the community,” she said.



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