“I have seen robbers snatch phones from Keke NAPEP riders and also vehicles along this road. The moment the police leave for other places, robbers take over,” Abdulhamid Muhammad, a commercial tricycle operator, said.
Muhammad has been a tricycle operator for over eight years and for the past one year, has been plying Jabi-Airport bypass to Kabusa junction. He said within the period, he had witnessed several attacks by hoodlums on passengers and Keke drivers.
He said the hoodlums, who operate between 7pm and 10pm, employed several tactics in dispossessing passengers of their valuables.
“It is either they operate from the tricycle or stay by the roadside and descend on passengers whenever the tricycle slowed down at speed breakers on the road,” he said.
The situation has so degenerated that tricycle operators always warn their passengers before leaving the park to ensure their phones and other valuables are secure.
“They warn them to hold their hand luggage and handsets tight before riding out of the park as the tricycle operator will not be held responsible for any theft, loss or damage resulting from attacks by hoodlums.
Muhammad said after one of such encounters with some hoodlums, a tricycle operators was accused of conniving with the criminals and was made to pay N40,000 at the police station to a woman for the loss she suffered.
Aso Chronicle found out that there were few street lights from Jabi Airport bypass to Galadimawa roundabout. The street lights are only from National Judicial Institute to a few metres after Dantata bridge. The bushy road is usually dark thereby giving the hoodlums cover to hide and launch attacks on their victims.
The road leads to important locations in the FCT. Aside connecting motorists from the airport to other parts of the city, the city’s industrial district is situated along the road.
Among government institutions on the road are the National Judicial Institute, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Federal Staff Hospital, and National Open University of Nigeria. The road also leads to other private institutions including Nile University, Julius Berger Yard, CITTEC Estate and Kings Court Estate.
Muhammad said those that operate from the tricycle usually stopped the rider at a bushy area having carefully studied their victims. “They pay in high denomination notes and when the rider is trying to get their change, they snatch phone, handbag or any valuable and escape into the bush.”
“They attack motorists too. I have seen one of the criminals wrestle a car owner. Not that he wanted to snatch the car but the phone the driver was holding. The driver wound up the glass and the thief had to run away.
“Such incident are regular at hospital junction, Sun City and before Lokogoma junction,” he said, adding that the tricycle operators can only pray that the situation would change for the better. Nothing is beyond God; when you pray to God any problem can be solved.”
Another tricycle operator, James Sam, said his job gets riskier daily because of the activities of hoodlums, whom he said, usually placed them in a tight spot as some victims suspect them of connivance.
“The passengers are warned to keep their belongings secure as the riders would not be held responsible for anything that happened afterwards.
“Some of the criminals board Keke pretending to be passengers to assess the passengers; to pick who will be their victim(s), so immediately they approach a speed bump, and the rider applies brake, they grab whatever they want to steal and escape on a motorcycle or on foot. The passenger will now accuse the driver that it is a setup,” he said.
Sam said he has never been a victim, however added that some passengers in his friend’s tricycle were robbed at Galadimawa roundabout.
“This wicked people also target people in traffic jam. It happened on Sunday, immediately the Keke man stopped, the thief rushed in, grabbed a bag and ran into the nearby bush.”
The deputy chairman of the Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria (TOAN) at Airport Junction, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the places notorious for the attacks were Cittec second gate, SCC Junction, Idu Yard, Federal Staff Hospital Junction, NJI, Dantata Bridge, Sun City, Sunny Vale and dark places after Lokogoma junction.
He said tricycle operators have been warned not to stop for passengers at secluded places but only at designated popular bus stops.
He said the situation was even more dangerous when one decided to chase the hoodlums into the bush. “You do not know what or who are in the bush, so running after them could be dangerous.”
Another tricycle operator, Honor Abdullahi, said several speed breakers on the roads aid the hoodlums take advantage of them to inflict pain on their passengers.
He said he now dreaded the speed breakers, especially when he spotted someone near them at night.
“Those criminals snatch handsets, money, bags anything their hands can get from the passengers,” he said adding that in such cases, the riders could do nothing.
Sanusi Aliyu, another tricycle operator, said due to the attacks, he closes by 8pm and the moment it was dark, he only stopped at designated bus stops for passengers to alight.
“Until all those bumps are removed, we may not see the end of this,” he said.
The spokesman of the FCT police command, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, said the police have not rested on their oars in arresting hoodlums that engaged in handbag snatching and other criminal activities around Kabusa axis and its environs.
He said they have swooped on some notorious suspects who usually lurk around at black spots to rob innocent people of their phones and other valuables.
According to him, some police operatives attached to Wuse division on duty at Arewa junction pursued and arrested two suspects, whose names he give as Obadiah Danjuma and Peter James, both of Mararaba while trying to escape with a Samsung phone after they allegedly snatched it from their victim.
“It is important to state that the second suspect, Peter James, has just concluded his jail term in Keffi prison over similar offence,” he said.
He added that another suspect, Musa Mohammed, was also arrested on Tuesday by Mabushi police for allegedly stealing at Wuse market.
The PPRO said it was following the suspect’s arrest that a witness came forward to identify him as one of three suspects who used dangerous weapon to inflict injury on the victim and dispossessed him of his phone and N4,000 cash.
He said the FCT police commissioner, Bala Ciroma, has assured members of the public that proactive crime fighting measures have been deployed by the command to protect lives and property of residents of the territory.