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Police move against laptop, phone thieves at Computer Village

By Emeka Aginam
For the street urchins and persons bringing in stolen Laptops and GSM handsets for sale in the Computer Village Ikeja , it may not be business as usual again, as the Police post in the market have intensified efforts to arrest culprits.

A close monitoring of  market activities  last week in  Lagos showed that Police  Criminal investigate Department, (CID)  now move round the market,  stopping and searching suspects who carry Laptops and Handsets in their bags either for sale or repair.

The largest African market, the Computer Village, it was learnt,  was regarded as the final destination for any stolen GSM handsets or Laptops across the country as a result of market for such products  said to be in  high demand.

Just last week,  a Police Officers were parading the market in search of suspects. But one of the Police Officers who spoke to Vanguard CyberLIFE on the ground of anonymity  disclosed that a good number of suspects  have been apprehended over stolen Laptops and GSM handsets.

“When we apprehend some of these suspects, we usually ask for the receipt of  purchase and all details. At the end of the day, some of the suspects will not come back for further interrogation or collect back the product after thorough investigations  meaning that the product may have been stolen. We have had many cases here. We have many exhibits here which are usually returned to the head office.

“We want to make Computer Village the best ICT hub in the West African market. We want to make it a safe place to buy ICT products. We will continue to do this  until sanity is restored,” he said.
Although selling of stolen items is not limited to Computer Village alone, the Police Officer further disclosed that some of these  Laptops and GSM handsets ranges from new ones, fairly used and refurbished.

“When you see these suspects carrying items in their bags, you may not know that the products were stolen.
“But we will continue to do our work to safeguard this market against stolen products. We will do our best. It is a challenge dealing with it.

We deal with other cases but we cannot deal with street traders. That is not our mandate but if the Community Development Association or the Computer vendors in the market  ask us do that, we will deal with the issue otherwise, it is not our mandate” he said.

According to him, street trading is  a global issue that is not limited to Computer Village, adding that different associations in the market may wish to come together to do something about it otherwise their activities will continue to be threatened.

Unfortunately, efforts by the security agents and the  Lagos State Ministry of Environment to stop street hawking at the Computer Village may not have yielded  the expected results   as street hawkers  are unrelenting in their bid to sell “something” to make ends meet.

The current scenario in the market, according to findings,  has resulted in heavy human  traffic, making  it difficult for visitors to freely move from one shop to the other.

A close monitoring of business activities last week and this Monday  in the  major streets of the  markets including Oremeji, Otigba, Anibiyi, Adapele and many more revealed that hawkers have again, returned back to their normal  business  despite ban by the regulatory authorities.

This development which has threatened free movement of person and goos, according to findings by Vanguard CyberLIFE,  has continued to worry visitors,  ICT vendors, the Lagos State Ministry of environment, security agents and  the Computers and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria, (CAPDAN)

Although there have been occasional raids by security agents, the apparent truth, according to findings is that normal free movement that existed before now  is gradually disappearing by the day, living visitors worse off whenever  they  want to come to the largest African ICT market said to be toast of international inventors to trade.

For many observers, security agents in the market and the Lagos Ministry of Environment  may  have been helpless  in an attempt to enforce compliance regarding the activities of  these street trading which constitute a major problem in the largest African market.


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