Car snatchers return to Lagos roads, police identify dark spots

•Armed robbers, other criminals hold meetings on football grounds —Ex-Kirikiri inmate

OLALEKAN OLABULO and SUBAIR MOHAMMED write on the spike in traffic robbery in Lagos.

THE Lagos State police command has deployed special squads all over the state as traffic robbery records a noticeable spike.

The Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, who made this known, confirmed that his command had been receiving flurries of reports of traffic robbery in the state.

He identified the Ogudu/Ojota axis of the state as the new hotspot.

Odumosu, who spoke at the 2021 annual award and lecture ceremony of the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN), said the state crime fighters had stepped up their activities to combat the renewed onslaught of criminals on the state’s highways.

It is on record that crime rate always spikes towards the end of the year and the situation is appearing not to be different this year. In Lagos, cases of carjacking and traffic robbery are on the rise and many residents of the state are bothered about the soaring rate of traffic-related crimes.

The police boss also disclosed that operational order had been issued to officers and men of the state command while special squads are to focus on areas where incidents have been rampant lately.


Attacks and arrests

In recent times, the police have arrested suspected traffic robbers in different parts of the state while a rise in the number of the arrests has been noticeably high in the last few months.

Saturday Tribune gathered that carjackers are on the prowl all over the state but their activities are reportedly more pronounced around Ketu, Alapere, Mile 12 axis as well as Oworonsoki, Agege, Lagos Island, Badagry Expressway and Ajah.

Last weekend, a viral video of a carjacking attempt at Ikeja GRA surfaced online. A male voice in the video recounted how the driver of the car, a blue Toyota, was attacked and the car damaged when he tried to escape.

In the video, the windscreen of the car was seen smashed reportedly with a big stone by the attackers.

According to the narrator, whose face was not shown, the incident happened on a Sunday morning, adding that the suspected carjackers who operated in a mini bus were trying to stop their target and his refusal to stop angered them.

They reportedly threw a big stone at the windscreen and smashed it in the process but the driver managed to escape.

Warning residents and motorists to be alive to their security as the Yuletide approaches, the narrator said: “This is December (Yuletide) and it is becoming rampant, the case of robbery, carjacking and car burglary (sic). Just this morning, about thirty minutes ago, one of our guys got his windscreen smashed by armed robbers – in the morning, not nighttime. They were trying to jack his car; to snatch his car but luckily for him, he was smart enough, he didn’t wait.

“So, the new tactics they are using now is to find a huge stone and dash it through your windscreen. If the stone can hit you, you won’t be able to drive at that point. It is the same tactics of the hammer whereby they will come through your driver’s side and throw a hammer through your side-glass.

“If the hammer should hit you, you won’t be able to drive and they would have the opportunity to pull you out and take your car. So, this one just happened now. Today is 21st of November, on a Sunday morning, inside GRA, Ikeja, for that matter. The stone was thrown) from inside the korope (mini) bus. So, guys please, be alert, this is December (Yuletide). I beg.”

A resident of the Jakande area of Ajah, Chuks, said he had to go through weeks of therapy to get over his trauma at the hands of suspected traffic robbers in the Lekki area of the state.

The victim said: “I was tired and very hungry on this particular day. The only thing on my mind was how to get home and eat. Traffic was terrible and hostile. I was suddenly jolted by a loud noise on the car window.”

He recalled that a lot of thoughts ran through his mind immediately. “As all those things played out in my mind, I simply melted and rolled down the glass. It was at that point that I realised that I was not the only person the guys robbed on that particular night. They did their job and left.”

Chuks was not the only victim of that night’s incident. According to him, the robbers moved from one vehicle to another and dispossessed commuters of their valuables.

On the Island, carjacking and traffic robbery incidents are said to be on the rise around Admiralty Way, Chevron, Jakande, Agungi and other parts of Ajah.


How I escaped carjackers –TV presenter

Two days after the Ikeja GRA incident, on-air-personality, Tope Mark-Odigie, during a TV programme, shared her experience at the hands of carjackers on the Alapere Bridge penultimate Friday.

The AOP said that though she was lucky to escape from the carjackers, her vehicle was vandalised. She also shared the experience of one of her friends at the hands of carjackers and how she was unlucky to have been robbed between Oworonsoki and Ogudu .

Less than 48 hours after the Rapid Response Squad created a new pin-down point around Gbagada/Oworonsoki,  a suspected carjacker was arrested by operatives of the unit in the area.

A resident of the Ahmaddiya area of the state who identified himself simply as Franklin, narrated to Saturday Tribune his frightening experience at the hands of suspected carjackers in the Agege area.

Franklin said: “I was trying to avoid the heavy traffic and tried to navigate my way through the roads at the back of Agege Stadium when about five boys surrounded my vehicle.

“There were four of us, all men, in the vehicle and wouldn’t have cared but the boys were obviously under the influence of drugs with their lips turning blue and their eyeballs blurry.

“They kept hitting at my screen but I was going slowly because of the traffic and when they were persistent, I quickly brought out a N1,000 note and handed it to one of them.

“One funny thing was that there were elderly people in that area who might be relatives and parents of these boys, watching the whole scenario and smiling.”


Odumosu gives assurance

The state police boss, however, gave the assurance that all would be well during the Yuletide.

He said: “As we approach the Yuletide, I want to assure all law-abiding residents of Lagos State that we have doubled our efforts. We have rolled out the operational order

“Robbery in traffic wanted to come out again with what happened in Ogudu, Ojota recently, but we have taken care of that. People should rest assured that Lagos State is safe.”

The state police spokesperson, Adekunle Ajisebutu, a Chief Superintendent of Police, also said carjacking was not rampant in the state, noting that “the Lagos State police command is leaving no stone unturned to arrest criminals in the state. Many suspects have been arrested for various offences and charged to court. Some suspects are currently under investigation. We have also strengthened security through visibility policing across the state.”

‘Armed robbers mostly use football grounds for planning’

For obvious reasons, Saturday Tribune had to protect this interviewee’s identity (name and all). He was an inmate of Kirikiri Maximum Prison for the period that his jail term lasted following his conviction and sentencing for armed robbery about 20 years ago. Now, he lives a responsible life, has a family and has been working as a responsible citizen for seven years. He didn’t want anything to affect his new-found beginning, though his wife knows about his past and conviction. After consenting to this interview as a way of using his story to warn Nigerian youths off vices, he became uncooperative midway. Following interventions, he reasoned that things could change dramatically for him with his boss should he read about his past in the media. His children are also yet to know about his past and he wanted to protect them from the shock of reading about their father’s past in the media. Although he assured that he would return to the interview table on Friday (yesterday), he never did without objecting to the publication of the brief session Saturday Tribune had with him earlier. In keeping with the promise made to him, his complete identity is being kept away from the public.


What led to your incarceration?

I will simply say it was juvenile delinquency. Primarily, I was influenced by bad friends and economic hardship. The sad incident happened on November 4, 1997. I was brought up in a good Christian home with good parental care but as I was growing up, I mixed with friends from diverse backgrounds who later had negative influence on my thinking and character.

I had lost contact with a friend whom I later met at a football pitch in Makoko. Then there was no mobile phone or ATM. Businessmen at the time moved about with huge sums of money.

So, when I met with my long-lost friend, he smelt of affluence and since I was still struggling to make ends meet, I told him to put me through his line of business and he obliged.


Did he tell you what he was doing?

He told me he was into selling of information on rich men to some guys who would work on it and I would be compensated at the end of the deal. He did not tell me it was armed robbery.

Meanwhile, there was a popular businessman in my community at the time. Out of eagerness to get out of poverty, I gave him information about him, the time he used to leave home and return. On that fateful night, my friend with four other unfamiliar faces came to my apartment in readiness for the deal.

I pointed at the businessman and they launched an attack. It was at this point I knew they were into armed robbery. I had thought it was something easier. I never knew it was armed robbery.


So, what followed?

They succeeded in the robbery attack. When they attempted making their way out of the community, they couldn’t found their way, so I quickly led them out with the loot. But the residents were vigilant enough as they started shouting on them. However, there was a particular guy who had sighted me when I was leading them out.

When the incident was reported at the police station, a guy told them he knew me. So, after they had left, around 12.00 a.m., I was preparing to sleep when I had a knock on my door. I opened the door and there were policemen with the guy who saw me when I was leading the armed robbers.

They asked every one of us to come out of our apartments and told the guy to identify the person he saw. He pointed at me. My knee was immediately crippled with a baton and I was taken to the hospital.


Was there any connection between you and the robbers before you invited them for the operation?

There was no connection whatsoever. I told you earlier that the linkman was a childhood friend with whom I had lost contact.

I reconnected with him at a football pitch. On that pitch, he was seated among bad guys who were smoking Indian hemp but I didn’t smoke or drink alcohol.

I knew them as hard guys within the community but I never joined their clique.

A lot of atrocious acts (usually) go on at a football pitch. Many criminal activities are negotiated while others are busy watching football. They discuss all sorts of criminal deals which I wouldn’t want to mention.


Tell us about your journey from the station to your trial and down to the correctional centre?

I spent days in police cell. Around 4.00 a.m., the policemen brought in a guy who was among those that attacked the businessman….(interview abruptly terminated as subject became very emotional).


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