•Victims expose new tricks robber use on innocent commuters
•Police must work harder to stop bandits – Residents
By Job Osazuwa
To many commuters, the noticeable rise in the frequency of robberies at Lagos gridlocks is getting more worrisome. Not a few have fallen victim to the robbers who operate boldly at night and even during the day. More annoying is that they often get away with the crime.
The undesirable elements are on the loose, unleashing mayhem on innocent commuters. They are everywhere and employing new tricks everyday. The robbers are mostly young men in their 20s and 30s who comb the highways of Lagos for any slight opportunity to strike. Wherever there is a traffic jam, it is a blessing to the miscreants.
On April 21, 2017, one Mr. Tunde Praise, narrated on his Instagram page how he was robbed on a rainy day at Gbagada area of the state.
“This will help someone. Not less than 45 minutes ago, I was robbed on Gbagada Expressway by area boys – touts. It was raining heavily and as usual, there was traffic jam. The robbers came close to the window of my car and told me to wind down and give them money.
“I was scared and so many things were running through my mind. What if I rolled down and they pulled out a gun or stabbed me. I didn’t wind down but they were banging my car and shouting. I tried to see if I could drive faster by overtaking the car ahead of me, but the traffic was heavy. They came to the other side of the window and smashed it; took away my laptop and about N20, 000 I had in the car,” the post read in part.
He queried why the security agents were in the habit of deserting the roads whenever it was raining, knowing that such showers normally lead to gridlocks.
Investigation reveals that the hoodlums are excited when it rains because they cash in on such situations to waylay commuters and motorists.
Praise called on the government to beef up security in every nook and cranny of Lagos so that the residents could commute from one point to another without being harassed by the hoodlums. Although he admitted that some of the robbers are more battle ready, he advised motorists not to wind down the windows of their vehicles, and to maintain driving on the middle lanes.
Some routes that have become notorious for criminal activities include: Murtala Muhammed Airport Road, Costain/National Theatre, Third Mainland Bridge, Anthony-Oshodi Road, Gbagada- Oworonshoki- Ketu Expressway, Mile Two- Badagry Expressway, Ojota-Berger- Long Bridge on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Agege Motor Road.
Other areas where these hoodlums regularly unleash a reign of terror on helpless motorists are the Mile Two/Apapa axis, Apongbon Bridge, Ijora Under Bridge, Oshodi-Oke, Iyana-Oworo, Lagos-Badagry Expressway and CMS.
Last Wednesday, an editor with a national newspaper was robbed in broad daylight on the Oshodi Bridge while heading to his office in Apapa area. His phones and other valuables were stolen within seconds. He reported to the police, but till date, nothing has been done.
Another victim, Mrs Juliet Adedapo narrated to the reporter how she was robbed at about 8pm at Capitol Road Junction on Agege Motor Road about a month ago.
She said the two robbers, who showed her what looked like a gun, went away with her cash, phones, laptop, driver’s licence and other vital documents in her handbag.
“We were at a spot for about 30 minutes because of the heavy traffic. As I approached the Capitol junction slowly, a man appeared from behind, hit my car and ordered me to give him all I had. I didn’t wind up before then because I was running out of petrol, and I was alone in the vehicle. As I looked at the other side, his colleague flashed me a metal object that looked like a pistol. I didn’t argue with them, knowing that they could harm me. But what baffled me is that l saw people passing by while the boys were stealing the items from me, and nobody cared to raise the alarm,” she said.
Like researchers and inventors, the robbers are cleverly employing more tactics to succeed in their infamous vocation. Lone drivers are prime targets. The hoodlums usually position themselves at busy roads during peak hours to rob unsuspecting motorists.
Many victims have given graphical narrations how the miscreants perpetuate their evil plans. One of the ways is to ensure that they distract the driver by diverting his attention to happenings or imaginary things outside his car. While the unsuspecting driver looks away, the hoodlum’s cohorts swiftly pick whatever they can reach in the vehicle. All these happen in a twinkle of an eye.
During gridlocks, it was gathered that the robbers need some kind of shield. So, they usually go for cars stuck in-between trailers and trucks so that when they execute their evil act, no one sees them.
In July 2016, the reporter witnessed how two young men in their late 20s ambushed a car at Mazamaza-Mile2 traffic congestion. From their hideout, they suddenly materialised and launched an attack on this particular car even with many passengers in the vehicle.
A mini-drama ensued when the driver attempted to resist the criminals’ demands. One of the robbers standing by the driver’s side pulled out a shotgun from his waist and fired some shots into the air. At that point, passersby scampered for safety and the victims, in quick succession, surrendered their belongings to the robbers. Without wasting time, they stole all they could and disappeared from the scene, perhaps, to lay ambush for another prey. The car was sandwiched between a coaster bus and a trailer.
Recently at Bolade, a popular bus stop in Oshodi, a crowd of sympathisers gathered, consoling a woman who had just been robbed in the early hours of that Monday. She had boarded a bus going to Victoria Island from Egbeda area, unknown to her that men from the underworld were waiting to disposess her of her belongings at about 5.30am.
Other passengers in the bus explained that the victim, whose hand the robbers cut with a knife, was sitting by a window in the bus. While operating her latest smart phone, which is estimated to be worth over N100, 000, the thieves struck. They grabbed the phone and the handbag on her lap, and she was stabbed when she put up some resistance.
“Everybody in the bus became scared when we saw blood gushing out from the woman’s hand,” one of the passengers said.
Advice to motorists
Experts have counselled that Lagos commuters need to be absolutely cautious whenever they are attacked by robbers in traffic. Driving in company of others makes the risk minimal, although some thieves still dare vehicles with passengers. The unarmed robbers are said to be more cautious of the possibility of confrontation from their targets, especially the male folks.
Motorists and commuters are advised to keep their phones, handbags and other valuables from the open in the car, and not to be distracted by the robbers’ antics.
Meanwhile, concerned residents are calling on the Lagos State Police Command to draft its men to the various ‘black spots’ within the metropolis and to fight traffic robbery to a standstill.