Is Lagos Now Dens Of Robbers?

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In this article, KUNLE AKINRINADE has highlighted on why he thinks that Lagos is now the dens of robbers.

Many flyover bridges in the Lagos metropolis are harbouring armed robbers and other anti-social elements whose victims are left with sorrowful tales, KUNLE AKINRINADE reports.

Is Lagos Now Dens Of Robbers

IT was dawn penultimate Thursday and Adeyori Philip slowed down his Toyota Camry car as he approached a mild traffic around the Jubilee Bridge underpass in Abule Egba area of Lagos. As usual, he had left home early for his office on Lagos Island to avoid being caught in the usual snarl of traffic that characterizes life on work days in the city.

As he wound down the side window to allow for fresh air, he noticed a flicker of light on the back seat of his car. On closer look, he realised that the light was coming from a torch in the hand of a young lad who was trying to see what he had in the car. Before he could wind up the window shield, the boy had forced his hand into the car, taking away the bag containing his laptop computer.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when the young man dashed across the road with the bag containing my HP laptop worth thousands of naira,” he said.

“I shouted for help but got no one’s response from anyone. I left the scene frustrated particularly because my work files were also taken away with the computer. Luckily for me, I had backed up my files on the computer system allocated to me in the office, so I was able to recover the files.

“I think that adequate security should be made available at such hours on the corridor especially around the bridge underpass to forestall such occurrences.

“Many motorists who sympathised with me also shared their nasty experiences at the hands of the criminals under the bridge.”

But such ugly scenes are not limited to the Abule Egba flyover bridge. Underpass robbery attacks at rush hours have also been recorded in other parts of the city like Agege, Oshodi, Iyana Isolo, Ojota, Ikorodu Road, Mile 2 and Maryland, to mention a few.

In Agege, for instance, the underpass of the overhead bridge linking Guinness and Oba Akran areas has become a den of criminals, particularly at night and early morning.

Sometime in July, a factory worker, Yaqub Ahmed, was brutally attacked by hoodlums in their bid to dispossess him of his phone and cash.

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At first, the hoodlums, who according to Ahmed pretended that they had missed their way and asked him to give them direction, pounced on him right under the bridge, raining blows and cudgels on him and dispossessing him of phone and cash.

Recalling the ugly experience, he said: “While I was bleeding from the attack, my attackers ran away through a canal near the popular Asade Market.

“I initially struggled with them in spite of the rain of blows and cudgels. But I had to release my phone and money to them when one of the hoodlums brought out a pistol and threatened to kill me.”

Mode of attack

In most cases, the robbery attacks are linked to traffic congestion. At other times, however, the attacks are carried out in broad daylight and at dawn or dusk while residents set out for work or are returning home.

A typical example is that of a victim whose lifeless body was said to have been found around the Mile 12 underpass in June this year. The victim was said to have been attacked by suspected hoodlums at about 11 pm while he was returning to Lagos from his hometown in Ogbomosho, Oyo State.

According to sources, the victim identified as Jamiu Oyediran had travelled to see his parents in Ogbomosho where he spent two weeks. As he was returning to Lagos, he was trapped in traffic along the road and arrived at Mile 12 underpass around 11 pm when he was attacked by hoodlums with machetes, leading to his death on the spot.

“His wife had just been delivered of a baby girl weeks before his gruesome death at the hands of hoodlums,” one of Oyediran’s friends identified as Hammed said.

In a boldfaced operation under the Maryland Bridge recently, three hoodlums approached a motorist in a traffic snarl, pointed their guns at him and asked him to surrender his money. The hoodlums were said to have acted like street hawkers in the area before they struck.

“One of them first approached me and asked me to give him money or I would lose my life. While I was still arguing with him, two accomplices surfaced and pulled up their shirts to show me their pistols, threatening to kill me if I refused to part with cash.

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“They collected the N20,000 I had withdrawn from an ATM point close to my office in Yaba with which I was to settle some utility bills. Before I could overcome the shock, they crossed the road to the other side and walked briskly until they vanished from sight.”

A similar attack at the Mile 2 underpass ended on a tragic note when suspected robbers operating on a motorbike shot dead a stranded commuter.

The unidentified commuter, who was decked in suit suggesting that he was returning from work, was shot in the chest for dragging his bag with his assailants.

Arrests

Worried by the spate of robberies in Lagos traffic gridlock and at underpasses where hoodlums brazenly attack motorists and commuters, the Lagos State Police Command in May this year arrested suspected criminals from their hideouts during some operations.

In a statement, the immediate past spokesman of the command, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the suspects, Sadiq Masaki, 22; Oladimeji Olatunbosun, 24; Adam Hassan, 21; Tunde Afolayan, 24; Michael Ademola, 22; Olamide Johnson, 20; Abiodun Opeyemi, 22; Oluseyi Agbaje, 21; Daniel Ayomide, 20 and Adebayo Tobi, 21 were arrested following a distress call by one of the victims.

Adejobi said: “The suspects allegedly attacked unsuspecting commuters and dispossessed them of their belongings.

“In furtherance of the command’s anti-crime measures, the police operatives attached to the Strike Team of the command, on May 1, 2021, around 2.p.m, arrested 11 suspected cultists and traffic robbers who were attacking and dispossessing innocent people of their belongings at Railway-Crossing, Ikeja along (bridge), Ikeja, Lagos.

“The operatives, who responded to a distress call from one of the victims (name withheld), raced to the area and arrested some of the suspects in action while others were arrested at their hideouts around Ikeja Along (bridge).

“They have confessed to the crime. The suspects also revealed that they attack their targets with iron rods, guns, cutlasses, and charms during operations.

“In the course of police investigation, the suspects revealed one of their receivers identified as Idris Adam, 42, and he was arrested at Alade Market, Lagos.

“A gold necklace of one of the victims and many other suspected stolen items like phones, necklaces, watches, etc were recovered from him,” the statement added.

Security experts proffer solutions

To curb the menace of robbery at bridge underpasses around the Lagos metropolis, experts urged the authorities to consider a holistic approach or remedies to tackling the problem.

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The Chief Executive Officer of Formen, a Lagos-based guard protection firm, Julius Iloebe, said “the state government must help the police and other law enforcement agents in the fight against robberies and other criminal activities on the road.

Iloebe said: “Robbery attacks are not limited to traffic congestion on the road or under the bridge; there is also the issue of bad roads and potholes under the bridges which would make motorists to slow down their cars or get stuck in gridlock during which these criminals sprint at them and most times violently rob or kill them.

“Therefore, authorities should endeavor to fix bad portions on roads and lit them so motorists and commuters can sight advancing criminals, especially at nights.”

In his opinion, the Managing Director of SecureWorld, Jeremiah Datong, called for the deployment of policemen in strategic points around bridges, noting that such deployment must be complemented with the presence of personnel of other ancillary security outfits such as neighbourhood watch and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

“Although operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and men of the divisional police stations maintain routine patrol of the metropolis, their efforts are not enough to curb the menacing hoodlums. Hence, the deployment of policemen is necessary at strategic areas and under the bridges, and this should be complemented with operatives of sister security outfits such as Neighbourhood Watch and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).”

Datong added: “To avoid fatality during attacks, motorists, and commuters must learn to keep their valuables away from the interior of their cars and avoid holding their phones which could be easily dispossessed, while pedestrians are also advised to avoid dark routes at night. Victims should also, ensure they do not put up resistance in order to avoid being killed by the hoodlums during robbery attacks.”