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Residents decry onslaught of traffic, one chance robbers, cultists

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Olamide Iwayemi is still very shaken and in disbelief, a week after he, along with his wife were attacked and robbed in front of their estate in Lagos.

He told The Guardian that they were coming from church around 8pm and just dropped off by a church member at the estate gate off Okota road, waiting to cross the busy road when a commercial motorcycle parked beside him.

“I thought the passenger(s) wanted to disembark, but to our shock, the two of them got down and showed us a cutlass and a gun, telling me to bring my phone and my wife, her bag.

“I tried to fight them and was already succeeding when the other person faced my wife, hitting her hand with the cutlass. I had to plead with them to take the bag and just go before they killed her, which they could easily have done. Nobody came to our aid, despite how loudly we were screaming.

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“They took the bag and our phones, jumped on the waiting bike and zoomed off, apparently looking for fresh victims. I was so angry, because I had been robbed in December last year around that Cele-Ijesha link bridge whilst in traffic.

“That time, these miscreants in their numbers descended on us while we were in the gridlock, smashing windows and grabbing valuables in the early evening. The Police and traffic wardens that usually hang around there all disappeared and we were left to face them on our own.

“I am tired of getting robbed every couple of months; we are not safe on the roads, we are not safe in our homes, we are not safe everywhere. Insecurity is so rife and the government doesn’t seem to be bothered much about this situation,” he lamented bitterly.

Oyinkansola Adeiye, another victim of traffic and road robberies, said the situation is making her consider relocation.

She recalled: “Interview 10 people and you would discover that at least nine have been robbed in the last couple of months, either in traffic gridlock, walking on the road, their places of business or at home.

“After my sister was robbed for the second time in her shop, she was forced to close down, because she hadn’t even recovered from the first robbery when she was attacked the second time.

“I have been robbed twice in traffic this year, first at Apongbon in Lagos Island, the second time while descending Eko Bridge. The robbers were not even in a hurry; they took their time to rob every car on the road and despite frantic calls to the Police, nobody came to our aid, even though the attack lasted for about an hour.”

Everyday on social media, there are reports of robberies, cultist attacks and kidnapping for ransom, especially in highbrow areas.

A couple of weeks ago, cultists had a free for all at Adedeji in the Itire area of Lagos, which soon degenerated into robbery. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incidence as cultist clashes have become very regular in the state and the miscreants always use the opportunity to rob residents and shop owners.

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A trader, Blessing Oma, lamented that the cultists always capitalise on the slightest opportunity of an unrest to rob residents and passersby, adding: “Most times, they are the ones that start the unrest to cause pandemonium and confusion and they will start robbing shop owners and residents.

“Before I leave for home every night, I have to call ahead and ask if the boys have started again. What kind of life is this? The Police have abandoned us, because no matter how we call them, they don’t listen to us.”

Last week, there was a bloody fight between rival cult groups in Gberigbe area of Ikorodu, where miscreants quickly took over, robbing and extorting passersby and residents.

Speaking with The Guardian, a resident, Abiodun Adeboye, lamented that cult activities have become a bone in their throat, defying all solutions, saying: “Those boys have taken over almost the whole of Ikorodu, operating without fear of repercussion.

“I think at this point, the Police are overwhelmed by the situation, because it is almost a weekly affair now. The whole of Ikorodu is so unsafe; you cannot come out early in the morning or late at night for fear of being robbed, which has become so rampant.

“The whole of Ketu/Mile 12, inward Ikorodu, is a hotbed for criminals and traffic robbers, who smash your car glass and rob you carefully and nobody will come to your aid. They snatch phones and stroll away gently into the night, assured that nobody will come after them.

“They have even started robbing in broad daylight now. I don’t know what the governor is doing about this situation, because Lagos is now completely unsafe and we are all living on the edge.”

A few weeks ago, there was civil unrest in Oshodi, as miscreants took over the area, causing mayhem and forcing residents and road users to scamper for safety. There were rumours that a Nigeria Air Force (NAF) personnel was killed on Monday, leading to a face-off between military personnel and hoodlums in the Mosafejo area. This forced bus drivers to abandon their vehicles and shop owners, their businesses, as the hoodlums looted shops, destroyed vehicles and robbed passersby. It was, however, gathered issue was unrelated to the killing of the military personnel, who was wearing plain clothes.

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Robbery and violence is not new to Oshodi, and Oshodi-Apapa expressway as the whole axis is very notorious for criminal activities, including violent attacks, robberies, extortion, molestation, thuggery and cult activities.

“The fear of Oshodi is the beginning of wisdom for many Lagosians,” said Abayomi Okeowo, an entrepreneur in Lagos. “Everyday, I pray not to find myself in Oshodi, especially at night when there is traffic, because nine out of 10 times, you will be robbed.

“I cannot count how many times I have been robbed in Oshodi, on top of the bridge, under the bridge, at the Cappa side and Arena side. I have become their ‘regular customer,’ so I have decided to stay away from that axis completely.

“If your car breaks down around there, it is over for you, because you would be robbed; you cannot escape it. Police used to stay on the bridge as you turn to link Agege Motor road before and around Isale/Step side and things were slightly better then.

“But now, the miscreants and robbers have taken over Oshodi again and anything that happens to you there, you are on your own.”

Nkiru Okoye also lamented Oshodi, which was reformed a few years ago, has gone back to its terrible days, adding: “There was a time those boys were chased away and sanity was restored to Oshodi. It was well lit and people could move freely again, but all that is a thing of the past now, as the area has become very unsafe.

“I am always afraid, as a woman, driving there, because we are usually seen as easy targets for those traffic robbers. How can you have groups of rough-looking boys just gathered around and sitting, doing nothing all day and you as the government doesn’t realise that it is a recipe for disaster?

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“When they sit around all day doing nothing, what do you think they do at night if not robbery? The government and other politicians don’t seem bothered about the sharp rise in insecurity, because they have personal security and escorts guarding them. But what happens to us taxpayers? Should we be abandoned to the mercy of these robbers, cultists, criminals and kidnappers because we are not politicians or rich people?

“I am calling on the governor to, as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency on insecurity in Lagos State, because the situation has gotten out of hand.”

One chance robbery which was gradually reducing is now back again as many residents take to social media to recount their ordeal, one of such being Toyosi Emmanuel. According to him, he boarded a bus going to Aspanda but along the way quickly realised that he was in the den of robbers. “We were just two passengers in the bus, the others were robbers but we didn’t know. They put aboniki in my eye, took my phones, laptop and wallet after using my debit card to clear my account. I am still traumatised by the event but I thank God for my life because I could easily have been killed.” Another victim who didn’t want her name in print, a staff of one of the airlines in Lagos had to be hospitalized as the robbers said she didn’t have much money when her account was checked. She was badly beaten and pushed from the speeding bus where she sustained some injuries. According to her, she boarded the bus from Ajah and was going to Oshodi very early in the morning. “I entered the bus at the bus stop and not on the side of the road. I have been hearing one-chance before but this was my first time experiencing it. It was a terrible experience and I don’t pray it happens even to my enemy. I almost lost my eye and till date, have poor vision in my left eye and pains in my leg and hands where I was beaten,” she said.

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A Police officer in Isolo/Okota area, who didn’t want his name in print, said they are aware of the rising insecurity, but there was little they could do.

“We are afraid for our own lives too. As you are not safe, we too don’t feel safe. We don’t have enough tools to fight these robbers and nobody wants to die untimely death.

“If you go out around 8 or 9pm in this axis, you would be hard pressed to find any officer on duty, because we too are afraid. Don’t even bother coming to the station here to report anything, because nobody will answer you.

“I have several items in my car and home for my self-protection, but as for the rest of you, God is your protection, because we cannot do anything for you. All our morale and most of our powers have been taken away and if the government is serious about securing this state, they know what to,” he stated.

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