Thursday, 22 August 2013

Robbers take over Lagos/Badagry express way

It is difficult to say that the Lagos-Seme Highway has shed its toga as home of crime. Over the years, this facility, linking Nigeria with her West African neighbors, has been firmly in the grip of marauders. According to Team Streetz investigation, various armed gangs still rule the road with gusto. They have no specific time for their operation.
BADAGRY

By all standards, the all important Lagos-Seme Road passes for an international motorway, since it is the gateway to the entire West Coast of Africa. For, hardly does any ECOWAS citizen come into or exit Nigeria without accessing it. The hard fact is that several hundreds of commercial and private vehicles ply the road daily, conveying thousands of passengers and their cargo across the Nigeria-Benin Republic border. And with Nigeria’s status as prince of the province, the number of people using the road increases every day. Perhaps, if records are kept, the figure may surprise everyone. In the past years, the travails of commuters on the Lagos-Seme corridor have been monumental. They have had to contend with several portions of the failed road. Regular users of the facility say those bad spots keep emerging each day. They contribute to the pain and anguish brought about by the multiplicity of regulatory agencies on the road. Non-Nigerians commuters have been complaining aloud about their presence, maintaining that the actions of the personnel of such agencies add to travel time on the road.
However, much more worrisome is the menace of marauders who are still making life on the road difficult. Armed youths who strike at various segments of the road are increasingly raising the status of robbery to a trade. They waylay their victims, rob them of their money, drag the women among them into the nearby bush and audaciously rape them. This impunity has been going on without anything being done about it.
A little long ago, the portion between the Ojo Military Barracks and Volkswagen Bus stops was the nemesis of many who ply that road. Once the clock struck 7 pm, the fear of the area then was the beginning of wisdom. Hundreds of youths seize the opportunity of the characteristic traffic gridlock which still rules the area to commit mayhem. Coming out in their large numbers and looking every inch vicious, they unreasonably unleash terror on commuters, robbing, killing and maiming the unyielding ones. Once challenged, they allegedly scale the fence and disappear either into the nearby military barracks or the Volkswagen compound.
But following an onslaught by the police and the military, the menace has been curtailed. Some of the youth robbers as Team Streetz gathered, do converge on the spot are probably operating in other areas. Now, the tempo of the menace has reduced considerably. Some of the actors are apparently doing nobler things elsewhere or have channeled their energies into other vices rather than robbing at the spot. However, the nerve-wrecking traffic chaos which characterizes the area still persists.
While the area around Ojo held the notorious record as home of crime and criminality, another point on the same road has been fighting to gain similar popularity. The U-turn at Agboju, to many, is another deadly point to fear. On a good day, police traffic wardens are posted to the spot to stave off heavy traffic build-up. But Team Streetz investigation shows that any moment the traffic bottleneck begins to build following the absence of either the police or officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), motorists suffer untold hardship. The story is the same on both portions of the road up to the Trade Fair complex bus stop.
Apart from the pains and anguish commuters go through, especially during the rush hours as a result of avoidable traffic chaos, they also get robbed while trapped in the traffic maze. They fall easy prey to armed youths who take advantage of the confusion. The robbers simply show commuters their guns – real and imaginary – and frighten them to promptly part with their property. Unyielding ones are sometimes shot. And since no one wants the experience the sting of a bullet they easily comply and hand the robbers free rein.
Now with the ongoing Lagos light rail project, and the attendant massive construction, commuters are having a hard time. Youth robbers have been profiting from the confusion. This is already raising serious security concerns in the area.
Shortly after the Agboju U-turn inward Mile 2, the construction company handling the project only allowed a narrow link road between the expressway and the inner Old Ojo road. What that means is that motorists must squeeze through the narrow path to get by. On a bad day, this spot has become a fertile ground for robbers operating both in the day and night. In the day, they disguise as youths selling commodities in the traffic to rob their helpless victims, especially those of them who forgot to wind up their cars’ window glasses or don't have an air conditioner in their car.
Just recently, three staffers of The Sun Publishing Company were robbed at the spot in broad daylight. Mr. Olumuyiwa, an accountant, was a victim of the most dramatic of the robberies. He was handed a raw deal in the morning, shortly after he had made a u-turn at Agboju and was waiting to access the link road inward Old Ojo road. He was accosted by three youths who demanded money, threatening to blow his head to ribbons if he refused to comply.
Recalling his encounter with the robbers, he said: “I had dashed to attend to a pressing family matter and was returning to the office that morning. I made a U-turn at Agboju and had no problem doing that. I was headed for Old Ojo road, but it was difficult because there was some light traffic which made access difficult.
“My thoughts were centered on the enormity of things I had to do in the office. However, I noticed three young boys as they trudged towards my car. Initially, I misjudge them for hawkers, but I was wrong as they suddenly swooped on me. Two came through the passenger’s side, while another approached from the driver’s side. My glass windows were down to let in some air. Then one of them yelled at me ‘oya, oya, oya bring all the money you have there now or you are wasted!’
“The moment I heard that, it dawned on me that I was in for the unexpected. I knew that the unfortunate could happen if I didn’t act fast. Responding in Yoruba, I told them to take it easy, that I was going to give them all that they wanted. Just then, the one at my right whipped out a gun. When I saw it, I froze.
“But regaining my composure, I dug into my back trouser pocket and handed them N1, 000 note each. Seeing that, they yelled ‘oga please bring more!’ For the second time, I gave them another N1, 000 notes each. When they realised that I was bringing out the money piecemeal, one of them yelled again ‘oga, now we will kill you if you fail to bring more!’ Hearing that, I mustered courage and told them that I was not destined to die just like that. But again I handed each of them another round of N1, 000 note. At that point, the two at the passenger’s side, dashed off to meet another victim. But the lad at my side persisted.
“I was pleading with him to let me go when he said softly: “Oga, na me hold the gun, if you no bring more money, you go die now!’ So I began pleading with him to take additional N1, 000 notes, the very last I had so that he would allow me go. While the exchange was going on, the traffic began to move. As he thrust his hand into the car to collect the money, I released the electric window button, and instantly the glass held his hand. He then began to scream for help as I drove. If the traffic moving was fast, I could have dragged him a long while. But I thought about my window glasses which could be shattered if I had dragged him further. So I released the button a little bit to free him and he fled. All the drama happened within a few fleeting seconds.
“As I drove, I kept wondering if I was waking up from a bad dream, but it was not. Thank God I had some money to give them. I don’t know what could have happened if I had no dime on me.”
This tragic occurence is one amongst many of its kind that goes down on our Naija Streetz daily, due to poor security and mostly desperate attempts to survive, we only hope the concerned authorities will take the right measures and come top the rescue of the innocent citizens that have to bare the brunt of this menace.....stay connected to the Streetz for more trends on the Streetz.
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