It was an unusual onslaught of attacks for Lagos residents by highway robbers in recent days, who have taken advantage of the traffic snarl caused by road construction workers and tanker drivers along several sections of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway.
Irrespective of the time of the day, hoodlums have now taken it as a pastime to attack vehicles and rob the occupants of their belongings without let. Only a few are lucky to escape unhurt without losing any valuables as police officers on patrol came to their rescue.
Our reporters, who were attacked and robbed at some few kilometres before the Charity bus stop bridge, were on their way to the office at Toyota bus stop at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. It took the intervention of policemen who were on a different mission to rescue them after they had parted with some money though. The Guardian gathered that the hoodlums robbed commuters both in broad daylight and at night as they routinely harass and collect money among other items from road users, especially private vehicle owners.
One of The Guardian journalists, Bunmi Odumosu, narrating his ordeal, said: “The attack happened at about 6:15 p.m. around the Oshodi-Toyota axis on my way home from the office. I had a colleague in the passenger seat. Not long after we got into the main traffic almost in front of the Oshodi Army resettlement barrack, a number of miscreants took advantage of the traffic snarl to rob unsuspecting commuters.
“Four came to my car, started banging the windows vehemently from both sides hoping it would break, I had no money with me and wasn’t ready to hand over my phone. My colleague had freaked out at this point because the banging was getting fiercer. They went on and on threatening and banging. Since I had no money on me, I reached out for the bowl of chicken pepper soup I got few minutes before and showed them it’s all I had, one motioned that I should wind down the glass and pass it.
“At that point, I thought it was a big risk because I would have to wind down. I wound down a little just enough to pass the bowl, he tried to force down the glass but I managed to squeeze the bowl through the small opening and his fingers were stuck, he managed to remove his hand but kept threatening. The others too kept banging the window and threatening. But when the glass won’t break and they saw how terrified we were, they moved away to other cars. Yet to recover from the psychological disorder. The policemen were nowhere in sight as they were busy mounting barriers to enforce the curfew.”
Also, the Crime Editor at Vanguard Newspaper, Emma Nnadozie, narrated how he was accosted by the robbers but was rescued by a naval policeman. His onslaught happened at Mile 2 bridge on Tuesday night. “Following threats that the police in Lagos will not consider journalists as essential duty workers, late Tuesday night, there was a stampede in our newsroom as we all made frantic efforts to round up production and depart to our respective homes before 8 pm. I headed home at exactly 7:30 pm.
“On getting to the ever-busy Mile 2 bridge, I freed my driver who lives nearby at Ajegunle and took over the steering. As the snarling gridlock snaked towards under the bridge with imposing heavy-duty trucks blocking every available space, I noticed two dishevelled boys standing on the pavement in the middle of the road.
“One of them peered longingly at me as if assessing whether to attack or not while the other waited patiently. As soon road as I sighted them, I instinctively knew that they are the dreaded and notorious traffic robbers that attack motorists daily around that axis.
“I started watching their movement from my side mirror while regretting that I was alone in the vehicle. I also quickly removed my suit and tie, which I guessed, may attract more attention to the hoodlums. Before I knew it, three of them materialized in front of my car and started confronting other vehicles.
“As if I was their target, they quickly abandoned the vehicles, probably because they saw many people inside, and started moving towards my car. At this stage, I could not think of any other option than to rush out from my car, lock it and walk back in quick steps. As soon as they saw me alighting from my car, they rushed towards me but I was yards ahead. Surprisingly, drivers of other vehicles were just watching the drama without making efforts to either assist or save themselves. We were all caged in the gridlock like animals with nowhere to run to.
“They came after me ferociously and I quickly made a detour in between two heavy truck to behold a man in a scooter bike wearing a black polo with the bold inscription; Naval Personnel. I quickly waved him down, introduced myself and narrated my plight.
“Luckily, the young man who later introduced himself as OS Olatunbosin Seun, working at Point road, Apapa quickly came to my rescue by stopping his bike and riding closely by the side of my car till we got down the bridge and the traffic eased off. In fact, as soon as he rode his bike near my car, the robbers, on seeing him, disappeared from the scene and moved back further to attack other motorists. I reciprocated the Naval officer’s kind gesture in words and deeds but by the time I got home, I was not only traumatized but deeply worn out after imagining what could have happened to me if the officer did not come to my rescue. I thank God for his mercies.”