By Esther Onyegbula
Members of a notorious gang of armed robbers that have been terrorizing unsuspecting passengers and motorists along Mile 2-Badagry Expressway met their waterloo recently, after the police at Ijanikin succeeded in outsmarting them.
Reports said members of the gang who were armed to the teeth thought it would be business as usual and waylaid passengers on the ever-busy expressway. They were busy robbing passengers of a commercial bus with registration number KTU 766 XK at Olorunsogo bus stop when a team of Policemen from Ijanikin who have been on their trail swooped on them.
According to reports, immediately the armed robbers sighted the policemen, they opened fire on them. The policemen responded and gunned down one of the bandits. He died on the road to the hospital while the other gang members escaped with bullets wounds. Items recovered from the unidentified dead robber includes; two locally made double barrel pistols, two life cartridges and four expended cartridges while two handsets belonging to one of the passengers were also recovered.
Recounting the ugly incident, the commercial bus driver, Are Abayomi, said, “that evening, we carried passengers from Okokomaiko bus stop to Okoafo. When we got to Iyana -Isashi bus stop, a passenger alighted from the bus. When we got to Cele -nica bus stop, another passenger alighted. Immediately I drove off, one of the passengers at the front asked another one behind to “give me the change in your hand”. That was the language he used, because there is a demarcation between the driver’s seat, two front passengers seat and the rest of the bus.
The passenger behind stretched his hand through the little space like a pigeon hole and gave him the change which turned out to be a rifle. As soon as he received the rifle, he pointed the gun at me and ordered me to park. At this point, it dawned on me that while passenger were boarding the bus at Okokomaiko, armed robbers joined them too, because after the two passengers alighted at Iyana- Isashi and Cele nica bus stop respectively, no new passenger entered the bus. When I refused to stop the vehicle, he began to slap me and drag the steering with me while the others inside the bus were busy harassing and robbing passengers inside the bus.
“Overwhelmed, with a thousand thoughts flying across my head, I refused to park believing that if only I could get across the bridge, I would jump out of the moving vehicle. However, I felt that would endanger the lives of the passengers. I also thought that if I could switch off the vehicle, because the bus has tracker, they will not be able to move the bus. I was in a fix. I had no option but to silently pray for rescue to come in my heart. Finally when the bus stopped, one of the robbers at the back seat came to the driver’s seat and ordered me to lap the passenger sitting at the middle because the front has two seats excluding the driver’s seat. Immediately, he took over the driver’s seat, all of a sudden, I started hearing gun shots.
“I held the robber at the driver’s seat, as he began to struggle with me, his shirt got torn in the process and he was able to free himself from my grip. It was while he fled that a bullet hit him and he fell, unable to run with the others. The rescue was indeed a miracle. I wasn’t expecting that kind of intervention let alone from the Nigerian Police.
One of the passengers told Crime guard, “It was a terrible experience for me; I have never had close encounter with armed robbers in my entire life before that fateful evening, but I thank God I survived it. Like other passengers, I boarded the bus from Okoko bus stop. It never crossed my mind that some of the people that entered the bus with us were not passengers but armed robbers till they started their operation after Cele nica bus stop.
“After they had finished robbing me and other passengers in the bus, some of them moved out of the bus when the bus stopped. And then, sounds of gun shots filled the air, I was terrified and confused because the passengers co-operated with them. I felt the gun shots were uncalled for since all the passengers co-operated. It was later I discovered that the shots were from the robbers who had sighted the policemen who had come to our rescue. When they realised that the police had overpowered them, the robbers started running because they knew they would have bigger trouble in their hands.”
According to the bus conductor, the three seats at the back had one robber each but it was only one of them at the back that had a pistol with which they robbed the commuters. “Immediately one of the robbers gave something to the one at the front, they started operation at the back. They collected the money I was holding in my hand. They collected money and phones from the passengers sitting at the back. As they were dealing with us all, the police arrived from nowhere and delt with them. If this is the way police works, we all should be praising them daily. I commend the way they reacted,”he stated.
Although, the DPO Ikegwuonu Obinna Chidozie, Ijankin Police division declined making any comment regarding the incident, Crime Guard reliably gathered that the case has been transferred to anti-robbery for further investigation.