Posted by By Regina Akpabio, Seye Olumide, Issac Taiwo and Sunday Odita on
A COMPANY executive in Lagos was driving home on Saturday night. The least consideration on his mind was a violent encounter with armed robbers on his way
The State Police Command disagrees that violent robbery is on the upsurge
A COMPANY executive in Lagos was driving home on Saturday night. The least consideration on his mind was a violent encounter with armed robbers on his way. In fact, how he would return to his family was uppermost in his mind. After all, it was just about 10.00 p.m. And he is used to this particular road and route like the lines of his palm.
Just before Afprint Company, he passed a vehicle, looking apparently abandoned on the service lane. In front of it was a motorcycle, lying half onto the road, also abandoned. Then in front of the bike were two vehicles that looked like a scene of a collision. They were just there on the road. But this time, they were almost blocking the entire two lanes. There was no easy manoeuvrering out of this situation. So he engaged the reverse gear. Just then, orders were barked from all directions for him to stop, there!
It was then it occurred to him that an operation by armed robbers was on. He ignored the barking. He continued to drive on. Then, they started to fire in measured aims.
All those who saw the several bullet holes on the saloon car refused to believe that the man was inside the car at the time of the shooting.
"This is a miracle, first class", one sympathizer exclaimed.
"Your God is alive and kicking. You will live to ripe old age", another said as they examined the car in the garage.
"Oh! This bullet that pierced this place was meant for your upper chest. It is the handiwork of a trained marksman", another colleague of the lucky victim said.
The man who asked that his name be shielded said the people responsible were on a robbery operation. The operation lasted for about an hour, he explained, because after he miraculously escaped to a safe distance, he and other employees of the company that offered him refuge watched the robbers cross over to the Oshodi-bound lanes to continue the terrorizing.
Another man who gave his name simply as Cosmas said that a similar robbery operation was staged on the Oshodi-Oke Bridge that night.
"There was sporadic shooting. People just ran blindly in any convenient direction. It was pure pandemonium on Oshodi-Oke. The bad boys are back in full swing", Cosmas said.
Violent armed robbery had ebbed for a few months in Lagos. Only snatching of mobile phone handsets from car drivers and pedestrians was in vogue. Just last Friday, one of the guests at the business luncheon of the Nigeria-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry came into the Lagos Lagoon Restaurant venue to narrate why he came late. At about 1.00 p.m. on Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, in a traffic hold-up, in the presence of his driver, a man pointed a gun at him and took his handset. "Just like that in broad day light. It was like a film scene", he explained to the group of friends.
There have been many other cases of violent robberies in Lagos of late. Each case is quite daring, callous and wasteful.
Last Wednesday at about 9.30 p.m., two men on an unpainted taxi were attacked by robbers, leaving one dead.
The driver of the cab who ran to seek for help in a nearby house narrated his encounter: "Two men boarded my taxi at a location on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. On reaching Five Star Bus Stop, some armed men in a Mercedes Benz car blocked my vehicle and ordered that I should stop. They came out from their vehicle and searched me. They later shot at the two men at the back. The one shot at the chest died immediately. The other passenger survived. The robbers snatched their bags and disappeared."
At the same spot, about a month ago, an employee in one of the companies along the expressway was attacked and robbed of his personal effects, including the meat he bought for his family.
At Toyota Bus Stop, which the State Police Command has added to their list of "black spots" in the metropolis for intense surveillance, robbers take advantage of the darkness to attack and rob the residents.
A victim, Uche Nwogu said: "The robbers come out from about 7.30 p.m. to rob commuters who wait to board buses to different destinations. Sometimes, if you are crossing the expressway to the other side, they also cross to meet you.
"When they observe that the number of passengers has thinned down, some three or more would surround the passengers and rob."
There are other sets of robbers who go on motorcycles, otherwise called Okada, to rob.
A resident who preferred anonymity said: "Whenever they are operating, you see two sitting as passengers. They operate around Toyota to 7 & 8 Bus Stop on Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road at about 8.00 p.m. They trail their victims before robbing. Nobody is safe."
A customer who packed in front of a telecommunications company around Five Star in daytime was shocked to see four men surround his vehicle. His friend who was seeing him off threatened to harm the hoodlums. As they leapt back, he tapped the friend's car, who understood the language, and sped off.
Mr. Taiwo Alanosi of Agbado Ijaiye was robbed recently from a hole dug in the wall of his apartment when he refused to open the door.
An elderly security staff who simply called herself Rose said that she was robbed of N34,000 she borrowed from the cooperative society to settle her house rent at about 6.30 a.m. on the pedestrian bridge at Five Star Bus Stop.
A staff in a pharmaceutical company close to Five Star Bus Stop, Miss Clara Nkem lamented the lack of security in the area, which the robbers usually take advantage of.
Nkem called on government to provide streetlights along the area as the place is usually too dark at night.
Recently, armed robbers unleashed mayhem on the residents of Gbagada as they raided a filling station and a popular restaurant.
Large sums of money and valuables were stolen by the robbers who were said to have operated for almost one hour at the filling station before they crossed over to the restaurant.
The robbers using sophisticated weapons and instruments cut the iron gates that led to the director's office at about 1.00 a.m. On leaving the filling station, they invaded the opposite restaurant.
But a distress call to the police brought policemen who engaged the robbers in a shoot-out. Two of the policemen were wounded. Some of the armed robbers too escaped with gunshot injuries.
Speaking on the upsurge of violent robbery in the state, the Lagos State Police spokesman, Deputy Superintendent Olubode Ojajumi, said armed robbery was not on the increase in the state. He also said that there was no society in the world without armed robbers.
"There is no way you can eradicate robbery in any society. We are fighting armed robbery activities in the state. That is the reason we are appealing to Lagosians to give us information on robbers' hideouts.
"I will not agree however that there is an increase of armed robbery in Lagos."
Ojajumi sympathised with the victims of recent armed robbery attacks in the state.
He said: "But I disagree that robbery activities have increased. As a matter of fact, armed robbery in Lagos has gone done."
He acknowledged the report made by The Guardian that the Isolo area is now a "black spot".
According to him: "I will take it up personally. I will inform the Deputy Commission of Police on the need to send more officers and men and patrol vehicles to these Oshodi-Isolo you just told me about. Accept my deepest sympathy."
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