By Prisca Sam-Duru
When the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, unveiled ‘Next Level’ as its slogan during the 2019 presidential elections, Nigerians didn’t expect to experience a devastating next level characterised by bloodshed, violence and diverse societal ills.
Truth is, before ‘Next Level’ was fully activated on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, Nigerians have been experiencing diverse shades of evil but not in the dimension or enormity as witnessed in the present day.
There has been, not just an overwhelmingly sharp increase in the rate of stealing in the country but, the manner in which it is perpetrated and the items targeted are completely wearing new faces.
These are pointers to the harsh economic realities dealing with the poor masses. It is also, the reason Nigeria earned tags such as, poverty headquarters of the world.
While high profile crime such as armed robbery rate has not waned, low profile ones especially burglary is experiencing an upsetting increase with new modus operandi, MO.
In just one month, Jabe, a community in Ijede Local Government Area of Ikorodu, Lagos, has recorded an unprecedented number of burglary cases with different MO.
There have also been similar reports from neighbouring communities such as Ewu Owa, Oke Eletu, etc, as well as outside Lagos state. It’s so shameful to narrate some of the incidents as they confirm poverty as a major cause of the thefts.
One of the victims of the robberies, a middle-age man, Mr Ibe, who works as a security officer at a fuel station, has had his house burgled three times.
On the first visit, the thief or thieves stole some sachets of noodles, few cups of rice and garri, bottle of palm oil, and other petty foodstuffs.
They had a field day with gathering food stuffs. The only thing left was for them to ‘soak’ some garri and drink.
A few days later, an aboki (meaning friend but used as derogatory name for Hausa labourers), was caught with stolen pot of soup and cloths, hidden in his cart.
Within the same week, some thieves burgled a house and after stealing few gadgets and foodstuffs, also stole chin-chin and from there, went straight to another house where after stealing, forgot some of the chin-chin. Can you imagine! This sounds crazy, shameful and yet funny.
In Mike’s [not real name] grocery shop, robbers broke in one early morning and had the good time of their lives. You can imagine having enough time to prepare and have breakfast of cold beverages and bread, before escaping with bottles of wine and other stuffs.
Meanwhile, this shop owner pays a certain amount to his landlord as security fee.
After doing their laundry one afternoon, Mr Stephen’s family spread the cloths on lines in front of their house and relaxed in the sitting room, watching the television. Thieves scaled through the fence and made away with all the cloths. Everything! Not long after, a thief was caught within the community with damp cloths, indicating where he stole them from.
A thief also broke into the house of a carpenter through the window, while the daughter was home alone.
The young girl raised alarm and neighbours gathered to apprehend the thief.
While escaping through the same route he came in, he abandoned his foot wear but held on to a bag of 5kg semovita.
It is a usual occurrence for robbers to abandon their loot while escaping but this thief held on to his loot, as if his life depended on it, and escaped. Lucky him!
To most people, the last experience Mr Ibe had with burglars is rib-cracking, though to him, it remains the worst and most helpless experience of his life.
When his house was burgled the third time, fortunately the thief was caught with the stuffs he stole. He had them packed in a ‘Ghana-must-go’ bag.
He was mobbed as usual and the people decided to hand him over to the police. Before Ibe knew what was happening, everyone disappeared leaving him with the robber and a local vigilante. After walking some distance, the vigilante also sneaked away.
Ibe however, with the strength of a security officer, managed to get to the police station with the thief. Disappointingly, the officers on duty directed him to take the thief first to the hospital for treatment, as they do not accept wounded suspects.
The man couldn’t come to terms with the police instruction as it meant spending money to treat the very thief that had been terrorising him. So, he decided to take him back to the community. On the way, the burglar attacked him and in the process, threw down the bag and ran off.
When people cry of severe hunger in the land, it takes some of these incidents to understand how grave the situation is.
Why would a human being steal a pot of soup or food condiments, if not severe hunger?
The worst is that people are afraid of taking suspects to the police due to fear and lack of trust. Even when the police is ready to act, poor condition of most roads hinder their operation.
A burglar gained access to Baba Taofeek’s compound two weeks ago, through his front gate. The thief had a clear mission which was to cart away the man’s chickens.
He broke the cage with his hammer and packed over eight of the birds kept for egg production for the family.
While trying to scale the wall out of the compound, the burglar strangled and pulled off the head of one of the birds which was trying to give him away.
There was blood all over that part of the wall. And oh! He forgot his hammer. That exhibit has been deposited in the hands of a fetish priest for vengeance.
So sad, Baba Taofeek narrated his loss with visible tear, not for the stolen birds but because the invasion to him, “Is a big slap on my face”.
Another case involved a neighbour who was supposed to travel last week with his family but something came up and he decided that his family should travel ahead of him.
Unknown to the burglar that the man was in his house, he broke a portion around the door key through which he attempted to open the door from inside.
The man thought about slicing off the robber’s hand with a cutlass but on a second thought, decided to catch the thief instead.
He grabbed the arm but it slipped away as slimy as the fluid found in snails.
The house owner soon discovered that the thief’s body was covered with condemned engine oil.
The man is still full of regret for not chopping off that arm. And now the people know their getaway strategy.
After stealing from a young woman whose husband resides abroad, one of the robbers decided to engage in ‘extracurricular activity’.
The woman told the hooded thief whom she recognized through his voice as her community member, that she was HIV positive, and that’s the reason she stays apart from her husband. It worked! But not for long.
Weeks later the thieves learned the truth and decided to pay her a brutal visit. Alas!, two huge crossbreed dogs were waiting patiently for them.