“Okada theft” in a metropolis like Lagos is becoming the new menace. It is usually done by two men on a motorcycle, who target and monitor a victim.
They rob their victims like spirits. Speed, energy and professionalism are utilized in such a way that their prey are always caught unawares.
“Okada theft” in a metropolis like Lagos is becoming the new menace. It is usually done by two men on a motorcycle, who target and monitor a victim. The two-man robbery gang will get close to a target, snatch the phone being used by the unsuspecting victim to make a call, send a text or chat while waiting at the bus stop or they just snatch the victim’s handbag and speed off. It all happens in a split second, leaving the person mouth agape, bemoaning the sudden loss of a treasured handset with all the memorable messages, bank details, contacts, etc. Victims whose handbags are snatched lose valuable contents such as ATM cards, notebooks, diaries, important documents and vital business-related jottings in a flash.
Sometimes, the more brazen robbers properly pull up near the target with a gun, knife or harmful substances. These criminals on motorcycle are very smart; they operate in quiet places that guarantee them easy escape. Other preferred operational locations are dark spots.
These demons on okada love to carry out their devilish acts when the police are out of sight or not on duty. Sometimes they get information about the target. For instance, they may get information from bank staff when the person goes to cash a large amount. The information could also be provided by a member of the team standing by in the banking hall monitoring other customers trying to cash large sums of money. As the person steps out of the bank the bikers outside trail the target and snatch the money and then zoom off. The victim is always left in shock.
Recently, Kareem became a victim. He was robbed around 8.00pm on December 26, 2018 in Ajegunle, suburb. Kareem sustained injuries on his leg in the attack and posted pictures of the injuries on his Facebook page. He said he could not recognize their faces because the place was dark. He was hit by a bus while trying to escape.
“It happened in the night on Boxing Day. I was coming from my house when some boys riding on a motorcycle attacked me and tried to take my phone and money. They pursued me and I was crossing the road to the other side, I was hit by a bus. It was a terrible accident but God saved my life,” Kareem said. He is still receiving treatment at the hospital.
Another victim, Shehu, recounted what happened to Sunday Sun: “I was at Boundary road at Ajegunle around 8.00pm. They were two men on the bike. They concealed their faces with peak caps which were pulled down. They sped close to me and snatched my bag. I had an Itel phone worth N38,000, a sum of N8,000 and other valuables in the bag. I did not report to the police. It was the season of my business and customers were coming so I didn’t want to lose sales. I quickly blocked my phone number to protect my bank details. The police need to work with the community to enable them carry out a successful arrest.”
A business woman who pleaded anonymity said that she was robbed on her way home. All the documents she needed to travel to Mecca for pilgrimage were stolen in the incident. She said: “I carried my bag on my shoulder on my way going home around 9.00pm and suddenly two men on bike snatched my bag. It was like a dream at first until I came back to my senses few minutes later. I was shocked and surprised. I shouted for help but they vanished in a second. I was preparing to travel to Mecca that time so the thieves thought there would be money in my bag. All my documents and my phone were taken away. I am just grateful that I had photocopies of those documents. I moved quickly and blocked my SIM card. But I did not report to the police because the stress is too much.”
Raman is one other person who also got caught in the web of robbery by thieves on okada. He told Sunday Sun his story: “Those people were boys, they looked like teenagers but I can’t recognize them. They robbed me immediately I finished receiving a call at Oshodi. I was about to cross the road when I saw a bike that parked beside me and the passenger asked for my phone. At first I wanted to run but the rider pinned the bike on my leg and threatened me with a dagger he brought out. That was when I gave up and handed over the phone to them. They quickly sped off. No policeman was in sight, only passers-by.”
Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos Police Command, Chike Godwin Oti, is disturbed by the apathy shown by people who choose not report certain criminal activities. He said that this attitude on the part of the people can only aid the increase in criminal activities as the police would not know about such incidents if the members of the public fail to provide information. The police are not spirits, to be able to know what is going on everywhere. For instance, he said that only two cases of theft by men on motorcycles were reported last year and explained what the police has done in this regard.
His words: “Okada theft is not on the alarming level because police have put in place measures to check it. Lagos roads are interconnected and hoodlums take advantage of traffic, dark spot and quiet places. We have deployed policemen on motorcycle patrol to penetrate dark spots and prevent hoodlums for taking advantage of people.
“There are other policemen on regular patrol to work with the police riders. We also have our mini-police station. We only recorded one or two incidents which were quickly resolved. The rider unit on that particular round was asked to fish out the culprit and we recovered everything that was stolen. People who don’t report criminal activity to police are ignorant or not following the activities of the police. It is the civic responsibility of anybody who has issues to report to the police. If you give us information about what is happening to another person or in your area, it helps the police to plan, track culprit and arrest the culprit for a safe community.”
The Divisional Police Officer for Surulere (Area C) Police Station, Jabaje Jimoh, maintained that his division is peaceful and there has not been any report of theft by okada men in his area.
“We have not recorded any okada robbery and nobody as complained about being robbed by men using okada. Ojuelegba is a busy area but peaceful as well. The NURTW and transporters have occupied the place. Therefore, it will be hard for any criminal act to take place there. They joined hands with us to ensure people conduct themselves properly. Dorma bridge used to be a hideout of hoodlums but we have chased them out of there and the place is safe for everybody,” he said.
The DPO of Ajegunle Police Station, Bisi Oyedepo, who also spoke with Sunday Sun said the victims of okada theft or any form of abuse should report their cases, stressing that the police are ready to join hands with the community to fight crime.