Traffic robbery on the increase in Lagos
THE upsurge in the frequency of robbery at Lagos traffic logjams has become a source of worry to residents as well as motorists, who have fallen victims to the robbers that operate boldly, even near places where there are government security agents.
But the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said the matter was being exaggerated and that police has been working round the clock to ensure that the undesirable elements do no have the freedom to operate.
Some routes, which have recently become flashpoints for the robbery, include Murtala Muhammed Airport Road, Costain, Third Mainland Bridge and Gbagada- Oworonshoki- Ketu routes.
Others are: MileTwo- Badagry Expressway, Ojota, Berger and Long Bridge on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
The latest robbery occurred just last Friday, when Mathew Ojo, who was driving home from Lagos Island to Omole phase one at the close of work, was robbed by hoodlums in at a traffic holdup, a few metres away from the popular Iyana- Oworo Bus Stop.
Ojo, who narrated his experience to The Guardian, said he was robbed at about 7.30pm on that fateful day close to Ogudu junction on the ever-busy highway.
According to the banker, the robbers went away with his cash, phones, laptop and other vital documents.
He said: “There was traffic gridlock, which hindered vehicles from moving fast. I spent three hours to move from the island to Iyana-Oworo en-route Omole.
“As I drove past Iyana-Oworo towards Ogudu, a man suddenly appeared from behind, hit my car and ordered me to give him all I had.
“As I attempted to wind up my car window glass, the guy showed me a butt of a gun that was tucked inside his trousers by his groin. He ordered me to give him my phones. But as I was still fumbling with the phones, he stretched his hands into the car and made away with my bag and two phones.”
Another victim, Monday Odeh, said he was robbed just before Iyana – Oworo in the full glare of officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) some weeks ago.
Mrs. Tayo Omoregie, a motorist, who explained that the robbers at times operate in the daytime and in the full glare of other road-users, noted that the incessant traffic holdups at Oshodi provide an opportunity for them to strike.
Chika Johnson, a lady, who narrated her experience near Agboju, after FESTAC Gate, along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, said she once saw some traffic robbers dragging a baby from a female motorist, but that it took the spirited effort of the woman to prevent the robbers from forcefully taking the baby away.
A former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Oshodi-Isolo Constituency 2, Omowunmi Olatunji-Edet, who said she was once a victim, said, the miscreants who perpetuate thee act now position themselves on both sides of busy roads at nights and attack unsuspecting motorists.
She said: I had an encounter with the hoodlums on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. The robbers, on that particular day, came to my car while on a traffic holdup, banged on the car and asked me to wind down the glass.
“I had to summon up courage to tell them I would deal with them in such a way that they had never experienced before if they behave in a funny way. They eventually ran away from the scene on hearing my warning.”
While sharing her experience on another incident, which she witnessed, she said she saw the robbers attacking a woman in the car behind hers.
According to her, the woman rolled down the glass of her car and handed her bag to the robbers after they threatened her.
Confirming that there was an upsurge in traffic robberies in Lagos, despite government’s effort to sanitise the Oshodi area of the state, she pleaded with the State House of Assembly to intervene and save residents, adding that she was sure many people must have fallen victims.
Other Residents, who spoke to The Guardian on the issue, said the attackers are usually young men, who cash in on the frequent gridlock in the city to rob unsuspecting motorists, especially women and lone drivers.
Traffic robbery in Lagos, a few years ago, was fought to a standstill through the intervention of the Babatunde Fashola administration, which funded the State Police Command through the Security Trust Fund and ensured security forces were mobilised during peak hours to man ‘black spots’ within the metropolis.
Some Lagosians are quick to blame the current trend on, not only the Lagos State Police Command, but also the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who they accused of almost abandoning the legacies of his predecessor in the area of security.
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, who spoke to The Guardian on telephone, explained that the claim that traffic robbery was on the increase was an exaggeration.
According to him, Police has been working round the clock to ensure that motorists or passengers are not robbed while on traffic holdups.
“We arrested 115 hoodlums recently. We have placed Oshodi area on security alert. We have also ordered the members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to ensure that the trend stops immediately. I was at Oshodi Bridge a few days ago with my policemen and we were there from 6pm to 9pm to assess the situation.
“I must also tell you that the situation is exaggerated. Most people who go on social media to report these things are reporting previous events. Traffic robbery has reduced. Three of our RRS patrol vehicles have been positioned permanently on the Oshodi Bridge. We have carried out several raids in Oshodi and some other black spots in Lagos. We would continue to safeguard lives and property in the state,” He affirmed.
Owoseni urged Lagosians to provide information that would assist the police in combating crimes in the state.
According to him, other black spots that have been identified by commuters as den of these hoodlums include Ojota, Mile 2/Apapa axis, Apongbon Bridge, as well as under the bridge in Ijora, Oshodi-Oke, Iyana-Oworo and CMS.
Still on the same issue of traffic robbery, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Joseph Mbu, at the weekend, vowed to clamp down on armed robbers, who operate in traffic snarls in Lagos and Ogun states.
The AIG is the supervisor of the Commissioners of Police in Lagos and Ogun States. He recently addressed newsmen on the launch of the new ‘Safer Highway’ project of the IGP Solomon Arase, and noted that highway armed robberies would soon become a thing of the past.