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‘We were robbed by hawkers, beggars at gunpoint’

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Police rescue kidnapped victims, recover rustled cows, stolen vehicle in Zamfara…Victims narrate horrors of Lagos traffic robbers

By Bose Adelaja

Inside traffic jam in some parts of Lagos State may not be the best place to be, not only because of the discomfort of spending more time that ordinarily you should not spend to get to your destination, but also for security reason.

Since the end of the EndSARS protests which forced many security operatives out of the roads, robbery inside traffic has, according to security experts, spiked in some parts of Lagos.

It appears that highbrow areas like Victoria Garden City VGC, Lekki and Victoria Island on the Island enjoy considerable security presence such that traffic robbery rarely happens in the axis, but there are some parts of Lagos where traffic robbers have found habitable for their activities be it day time or night.

It has been varied experiences from one area to the other especially along Ikorodu Road, precisely Ketu/Ojota, Mile 12, Fadeyi, Maryland and Costain.

Traffic robbery is also a common occurrence in Ogolonto and Mile 2/Badagry Expressway axis especially around Iyana-Iba, Okoko, Alakija, Abule-Ado, Alaba-Suru, Coker, Alaafia, Oko-Afo and Magbon.

Others are Ijora-Olopa, Iddo, Eko-Bridge, Apongbon, Orile-Iganmu, Gbagada, Idumota, Eyin-Eyo, Ikoyi Bridge, Third Mainland Bridge, Ijora/7Up, Fagba, Mosalasi-Alaja, Oke-Koto, Ojodu/Berger, Ikotun, Ago\Okota, Oshodi, Ikeja and bus stops along Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway like Ile-Zik, Mangoro, Iyana-Ipaja, Alakuko and Mosalasi.

Victims say traffic robbers apply various tactics in their operations.

For instance, some pretend to be hawkers or beggars or cleaning the windscreen of vehicles.

In the course of interaction with some victims of traffic robberies, it was discovered that some of the robbers oftentimes seize the opportunity of road repair works in some parts of Lagos to perpetrate their evil deeds.

They also ease their operations by creating artificial gridlock, making potholes on the road or causing distractions as traps for road users.

Also, some traffic robbers approach their victims by gently tapping on their side windscreens and tactically exposing the butt of their guns or any other weapons while some prefer to scare their victims by smashing the side windows of their vehicles with a tool.

In many cases, traffic robbers operate in gangs and while victims might have been initially approached by a member of the gang, others lurk around to determine their mode of action.

Interestingly, on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, luck ran out of six suspected notorious traffic robbery kingpins as a team of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) nabbed them in the process of robbing road users at different spots in the state.

Despite the proactive nature of the men of the Nigeria Police towards eradicating traffic robbery, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, four suspected traffic robbers allegedly attempted to rob some men of the RRS at Abiola Garden area of Ojota.

According to the RRS Chairman, SUPO Olayinka Egbeyemi, a surveillance team had been deployed to monitor Ikorodu axis in reaction to complaints of incessant robbery cases by road users including Owode-Onirin, Mile 12, Ketu, Kosofe and Ogudu/Alapere down to Ojota when the four suspects were apprehended.

In separate chats with Sunday Vanguard, some victims of traffic robbery shared their experiences, calling on the police to intensify efforts by spreading their dragnet across the state.

READ ALSO: Police arrest two traffic robbery suspects in Lagos hotel

One Mrs. Toyin Ologuneru said she was robbed near the Mile 12 pedestrian bridge a couple of weeks ago.

She said, ‘’I went to the Mile 12 market with some relatives but, after parking, I alighted from the car so that I could do my shopping only for a young man to hit me in order to arouse my anger but I ignored this.

“However, he ordered me to submit my phone but I declined. To my fright, he suddenly attacked me and I quickly surrendered my belongings to him”.

Narrating his experience, another victim, a truck driver, Mr Tony Obodo, said he was robbed at gun point between Ajegunle and Irawo bus-stops inwards Ikorodu as traffic robbers ordered him to render his belongings.

According to him, the incident happened around 10pm.

“The gang members came onto the road and began to attack road users one after the other and when they approached me, one of them tapped my side glass and pointed a pistol after which he ordered me to surrender my belongings”, he told Sunday Vanguard.

From Benson Bus-stop to Ikorodu Roundabout, there have been several robbery incidents which occurred during daytime and in the night regardless of the presence of security operatives in the axis.

For instance, a motorist, Mrs. Serifat Babalola, said a traffic robber removed her necklace during a traffic robbery.

“Thank God, he was unable to steal my gold pendant as he only made away with my fake necklace”, she stated.

Other victims from other parts of Lagos also shared their experiences with Sunday Vanguard.

Mr Ajenifuja Tomisin said he was robbed at Barracks Bus-stop on Lagos/Badagry Expressway during which he lost his laptop, phones, jewelry and vital document.

At Alakuko Bus-stop, Pastor Oluwasemilogo Moradeyo said he lost Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards to traffic robbers who attacked him.

He lost consciousness as a result of shock.

“By the time I gained consciousness, I noticed that my bank accounts had been emptied,’’ he said.

At different fora, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, said various strategies had been put in place to eradicate traffic robbery across Lagos.

Odumosu said a number of traffic robbers had been apprehended and their cases referred to the State Criminal Investigative Department, Yaba for investigation and possible prosecution.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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