- How not to fall victim – Police
There are growing concerns about the daring manner in which robbers disguising as taxi operators are attacking Abuja residents, especially commuters, and dispossessing them of valuables, sometimes at the risk of the victims being harmed.
Penultimate week, a resident who boarded a taxi at the Idu Junction along Airport Road on his way to Jabi at 10:30am was attacked and left with a bloody eye. His two android phones and wallet containing his two ATM cards were forcefully collected from him.
The resident who preferred to remain anonymous because of the kind of job he does, said immediately he boarded the painted taxi at the Idu Junction, “I was squeezed and pressed hard against the back seat while the front seat passenger rolled back his chair. Yet that was not enough, the one at the back pinned my head down and I almost suffocated. They asked for my ATM cards’ PINs and I gave them to them because I was in a hopeless situation.
“I don’t know how they did it, but I heard one of them say that the PINs were confirmed to be correct. They drove with me, head pinned down under the rear seat, and when I attempted to look up, they hit me with a hard object on my right eye and blood spurted out. I brought out a handkerchief and held it on my eye to stop the bleeding.
“They drove with me like that to Kado and dumped me under the bridge. I felt I was blinded in the eye when I came out of the car; feeling dazed,” he said.
He further said when he checked his email later in the day after he had received treatment on the eye, he discovered that few minutes after the hoodlums dumped him in Kado, they drove straight to a hotel on Alex Ekueme Way, Jabi, and withdrew N75,000 from one of his accounts and N15,000 from the other.
He added that when he reported the incident at the Life Camp police station on the same day (May 27, 2019) the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) and the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) asked him what he wanted them to do.
“I felt embarrassed that police officers were asking me what I wanted them to do about a crime I reported to them. At least they would have been moved by the sight of my blood-shot eye, but alas, that did not bother them,” he said.
Data gathered by our reporters reveal that this is just one of many such incidents in the capital city, which has instilled fears into many residents who do not have the luxury of commuting around the city in their own cars or in government-run high capacity buses.
At least there had been 20 reported cases of mostly “One Chance” robberies in the past six months in the FCT.
The data gleaned from newspaper reports from December to May, 2019, show that the attacks were heightened in April; it recorded nine incidents with most of them occurring on Airport Road and in the Central Business District.
Five incidents were recorded in March, while December reportedly experienced three.
Many commuters, it was gathered, who fall victims on a daily basis, file no reports with the police.
A lady who was robbed by the criminals while commuting from Dei-Dei to Berger junction, recalled that her attackers were only two in the cab she boarded around 7p.m. on the fateful day. “When I noticed that the driver was not picking more passengers after I entered, I asked him why and he replied that he would pick at the next bus stop. When he did not do that, I inquired again, but this time, he ignored me.”
The lady told Daily Trust on Sunday that she was robbed of her bag and mobile phones after she was threatened with a knife. “they slowed the vehicle down and pushed me out and I was lucky I sustained minor injuries.”
She told our reporter that her friend also encountered the One Chance criminals a few days earlier and was thrown out of a speeding vehicle in the middle of an expressway, adding that she lived to tell the story because there were no vehicles coming from behind, otherwise she would have been run over. “But they took everything on her,” she added.
Investigations by Daily Trust on Sunday have revealed that poor or lack of a modern transportation network for the ever-growing populace in the FCT has created a vacuum in the transport sector which the criminals are exploiting.
Since painted taxis are the only viable means of transportation in the city, apart from some few rickety buses plying various routes to satellite towns, the hoodlums have taken advantage and are terrorising residents.
The Wuse Market is a populated part of the city and it has been observed to be a place where the hoodlums snatch handbags, phones and attack their victims with daggers, especially at night.
Our reporters learnt that One Chance robbers park and wait close to the roundabout by the road leading to Gwarimpa.
“They pick up unsuspecting persons and rob them on the way. They know that there is no presence of security on that stretch of the road, so they do it in broad daylight,” Malik Abdulwaheed, a taxi driver, told our reporter.
This junction on Independence Avenue, close to the Ministry of Defence, is also reputed to be a black spot where hoodlums lurk and attack their victims in the night. The place is quiet and dark and the patches of bush on the undeveloped plots on both sides of Olusegun Obasanjo Way provide cover for the criminals.
Central Business District
The district is particularly dangerous at night, especially at the Masallanci Junction on Samuel Ademulegun Avenue which links the National Mosque.
The roads passing in front of and at the back of the mosque too are said to be unsafe at night.
The bridge located on Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road linking Galadimawa Roundabout along Lokogoma Expressway is also touted to be a black spot.
Residents said the hoodlums attacked their victims and disappeared in the thick cashew plantation close to the bridge.
Banex Junction, Wuse II
Residents said one chance syndicates took advantage of the busy nature of the area to pick up commuters who were usually in a hurry to get to their destinations and sometimes scrambled for taxis.
Area 1 Roundabout
Area 1 Roundabout under the bridge is said to be dangerous late in the evening and early in the morning. Passengers waiting to board vehicles to different destinations or alighting from vehicles coming from other areas are attacked and their valuables snatched.
Berger Roundabout, AYA
Berger Roundabout and AYA, under the bridges, are also black spots, among several others, where hoodlums loiter and attack commuters.
A resident, Denis Kakule, said, “Incidents of One Chance robbery are reported in the city on a daily basis and that has instilled fear in residents. Anytime I am going out, I feel unsafe until I reach my destination.”
The Police Area Commander of the Metro, ACP Nuruddeen Sabo, while advising residents on how to identify One Chance vehicles, urged them to always be patient enough to take down the registration numbers of the taxis they were boarding.
The police officer, who said he had battled the syndicates while he was the DPO of Gwarimpa and Kubwa, said the hoodlums most times used vehicles without number plates or with only either the front or rear number plates.
“Whenever we arrest them, they hide the real number plates under the seat or in the boots of their operation vehicles,” he said.
He also advised commuters to be wary of vehicles which already had two or three passengers in them.
He said his command had in the past few weeks raided Banex and Wuse Zone 4 and arrested hoodlums who snatched bags, phones and attacked their victims with sharp objects.
He added that tonnes of drugs were also recovered during the raids, assuring residents that he would work hard to make the metro safe.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Council Chairman, Abubakar Alhassan Yakub, has urged the Federal Capital Teritory Administration (FCTA) to take the issue of transportation in the territory seriously.
He said workers went through a lot of stress to go to their work places because of the lack of a modern, safe and transport infrastructure that is conducive in the city.
“There is a lot that the FCTA can do in terms of mass transit. If you observe, at their parking bay along Kubwa Expressway, there are a lot of buses that are not being used. Probably because the administration does not think it wise to deploy these buses for use.
“And with these increasing incidents of One Chance, if these buses are deployed, commuters can move from one point to another without fear of harassment,” he said.
He also urged the authorities to light the city properly so that the miscreants would have nowhere to hide and commit crime.
The FCT Police Command spokesman, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, while reacting, said the Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, had set up a special squad to deal with the One Chance menace.
He said the anti-One Chance squad of the command had recorded successes since it was inaugurated, and that it would continue to work hard to ensure the city was rid of crime.
Manzah who spoke on phone with our reporter, said, “As I speak with you, we have three One Chance operatives in our custody. Last week, we paraded five One Chance syndicates, so the command is doing its best to tackle the security challenge.”
He also said the police in the FCT treated every case professionally.
“We don’t treat cases that come to us with levity. We treat every case with the seriousness it deserves,” he added, while reacting to the allegation by a victim that the Life Camp police station did not treat his case seriously.
He said the incident would be investigated, assuring that the CP had zero tolerance for unprofessional conduct.