Robbers on rampage… Lagos on the riot act
Robbery incidents in Lagos have peaked despite Lagos State government response to rid the state of armed robbers. Ajibola Amzat (Features Editor) and Tunde Alao report the experience of victims and how the government` is dealing with the challenge.
AT the early hour of Tuesday July 14, precisely 3 o’clock in the morning, a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Soyemi, residents of Badore-Ajah, Lagos woke up to see some strangers standing by their bed side. The presence of the intruders did not make sense at first until they demanded rudely: “‘Where is the gold?’ Of course there was none except my heart-shaped ring of 14 years, which they took. They also took my husband’s laptop, phones, power bank, watch and anything else they could lay hands including my GTB debit card. I heard later it was a gang of four men and a woman,” the wife, Bukola told The Guardian.
But unknown to one of her assailants, I gathered courage and drove closer to the petrol tanker in front and hit one of the robbers against the vehicle. I did not wait to know what happened to him, but I know he must have been fatally injured,” he said told The Guardian with a somewhat sense of victory. According to her, the robbers eventually raided two other flats before they departed.
At another time, Monday October 12 , exactly 6:05am at Alapere Lagos in front of the Apostolic Church premises, three boys stopped beside a black Mitsubishi Pajero Jeep and started barking order at the occupants of the car, a middle-age woman and his driver.
According to an eye witness, Adebare Durotoye, a worker of University of Lagos (Unilag), one of the attackers collected laptop from one side of the car, and another turned to the ‘owner’s’ side where the woman was sitting and brought out a machete. He wanted to break the side glass of the car. Before he could complete the act, the woman fearfully released a big bag to them. “The robbers ran away when they heard siren from a vehicle coming from 7up area. I almost hit the boy while he was trying to escape,” said Durotoye.
Barely a week after, at the same point and about the same time, Durotoye, who daily passes through Alapere route to work, saw another gang of robbers snatching bags from passengers whose vehicles are stuck in the morning gridlock. “They broke windshield of several vehicles. It took the appearance of a police officer who was on his way to work, to scare them away with a gunshot,” he said.
A victim of robbery at National Theatre, Iganmu, Jacqueline narrated her ordeal to The Guardian. According to her, a couple of youths approached her car, telling her that her car was emitting smoke. “Confused, I hurriedly alighted trying to see what went wrong. Immediately I opened the car door, being a central locked device, one of boys opened passenger’s door and dashed in, the one who alerted me of smoke pushed me back, ordered me to keep quiet. Meanwhile, the one that entered had started ransacking my handbag. He made away with my phone and purse.
“I couldn’t say anything because I was too dazed. It was when I got home I realized the extent of my loss. My bank’s automated card, company’s identification card, cash and other personal effects, they had all gone. It was a scary experience,” she lamented.
Jacqueline’s experience was similar to another robbery incident which happened along Oshodi overhead bridge on a Monday evening. Oshodi is one of the areas listed as black spot by the police. But there was no policeman in sight that fateful day. An eyewitness who witnessed the scene which happened around 8:30 pm narrated his experience thus: “There was a mild traffic, caused by long queue by petrol tankers and other articulated vehicles.
Ahead of me was a woman driving Highlander Toyota SUV. All of a sudden, a young man approached the vehicle and started banging the side door violently. The woman seemed to get the message, and out of fear she rolled down the glass, stretched out her left hand and dropped her mobile phone.
But unknown to one of her assailants, I gathered courage and drove closer to the petrol tanker in front and hit one of the robbers against the vehicle. I did not wait to know what happened to him, but I know he must have been fatally injured,” he said told The Guardian with a somewhat sense of victory.
At Liasu road in Ikotun in Alimosho local council area, Sylvester Olalekan Bakare recently lost his blue Toyota Islander with registration number AA838CJ to a gang of car snatchers.
His undoing started when he stopped to fix a minor problem in his car. A youngster nearby advanced towards him and slapped him for pulling over by the roadside. “I was too shock to be so assaulted by a boy who could not have been older than any of my younger brothers.
By the way, it was around 10 o’ clock in the night, so, the road was free of traffic and I was not in the way of other motorists.” Yet the boy hit him. Bakare responded in kind, and fight ensued. It turned out that the boy was a decoy because a couple of armed folks emerged from the darkness, overpowered Bakare and drove off in his car. “I could not believe that I had just been robbed.”
Each of these robbery could be considered as a child play when compared with the Agbara November 19 robbery incident, where a gang of gunmen stormed Bank Road and carted off a load of cash after killing about five people including policemen on duty.
Five months earlier, banks within Ikorodu area of Lagos was the target of robbery gang. Despite the heavy presence of the police and military personnel, the robbers successfully robbed four banks at different times.
Recently, the popular Nollywood actress and TV presenter, Iretiola Doyle was attacked at Town Planning Ilupeju, Lagos around 9pm.
These incidents are a fraction of robbery attacks that happened in Lagos in the recent time. The black spots of robbery according to victims or eyewitnesses include: Anthony, Alapere, Ijora, Mile 2, Onikan,, Costain, Eko Bridge, Third Mainland Bridge, Mushin, Obalende, CMS, Oshodi, Iyana Oworo, , Apongbon, Maryland and Cele-Mile 2,
When The Guardian visited the Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos, Mr. Joe Offor, asking for the statistic of armed robbery case in the last six months, he said he did not have it. Rather he directed The Guardian to the police department of statistics.
Nevertheless, Mr. Offor said 24 armed robbery suspects have been arrested and charged to court between 12th and 18th November. According to him, many more have been arrested after then, but “I don’t have the figure here.”
He however insists that the police are “on top of the game”. But several cases of robbery attack in Lagos in the recent time invalidate such officialese.
To drive home his point, the police spokesperson hinted on the recent order by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni. He said the Commissioner has issued an order for visibility policing which compels each divisional police officer to deploy many more policemen to monitor traffic. There is also an order on constant raid of criminal hideout, he added.
“It is difficult to police a mega city such as Lagos with daily influx of migrants from everywhere. Lagos alone has over 50 percent of people from north east alone. Everyone wants to run to Lagos for survival. They want to come here to be riding Okada, and when they realise that Okada is not as lucrative as they used to be. They take to robbery.
That is why you see this upsurge of crimes. But Police is doing something about,” he reassured.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State government has also acknowledged the high incident of robbery especially on the roads. The commissioner for information, Mr. Steve Ayorinde attributed the upsurge of robbery incidents partly to traffic congestion and to influx of fugitives from other parts of the country especially, the Northeast, where Boko Haram members have been displaced by military campaign.
In addition, he pointed out that economic migrants from other states continue to swell Lagos population. “Considering that about 27 states could not pay workers salary and had to ask for bailout, in fact, many have declared that they cannot pay minimum wage of N18, 000, so the next place the unemployed and dissatisfied employees want to try their fortunes is Lagos.” According to Mr. Ayorinde, about 10, 000 migrants arrive in Lagos daily and this daily arrival also affect the state of security in the state.”
To ease the traffic congestion, the Commissioner said the new administration government has rehabilitated 282 roads. “And we have listed another 189 roads to reconstruct in the New Year.”
He said the states has just handed over 100 Cars, more than 100 power bikes, three helicopters and other security gadgets to the police to fight crime in the state.
Recently, the state government also read riot act to motorcycle and tricycle taxis riders. The governor reminded them that Schedule II of the Lagos State Road Traffic Law 2012 restricts them, including cart pushers from plying certain routes which include Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Oworonshoki-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos-Ikorodu Expressway, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Third Mainland Bridge, Eti-Osa/Lekki –Epe Expressway, Lagos –Badagry Expressway, Funsho Williams Avenue, Agege Motor Road and Eti-Osa/Lekki Coastal Road.
The governor has also given a 90-day grace period to owners of tanker trailers to build loading bays for their vehicles.
With these measures, the Commissioner believes that robbery incidents will reduce. He encouraged Lagosians to always call RRS on 112 whenever they are in distress. “The number is boldly written on the vehicles.”
The PPRO police also advised commuters to call 09053872208 during emergency. “To avoid being in distress, always keep low profile. Keep your personal effect hidden inside your vehicles, don’t display them where robbers can see them from outside.
However, some residents are devising ways to deal with the situation. A young man, Chinedu Ndukwe said he keeps a bottle of acid spray in his car, while some ladies said they are shopping for pepper spray.
“All it required is courage and composure. Just put the item within the reach and in a save part of your car. Whenever you notice a strange approach, pick up courage and pour the substance on the face of the intruder and if it is pepper spray, do the same. Robbers are jelly when they meet stiff resistance,” said Ndukwe.
“Whatever route you take every day, just brace up for fight against the hoodlums,” he advised.
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