As end-year festivities gain momentum with increase in economic and social activities, street robbers are turning focus on motorists and dispossessing them of their valuables in traffic gridlocks around the Lagos metropolis.
With an estimated population of 21 people, limited road networks and vehicular density of 264 vehicles/ km, Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub is prone to road congestion especially at peak hours – 7am-10am and 5pm-9pm, a situation that provides opportunity for traffic robbers to ply their trade.
Last month, Zebulon Agomuo, editor of BusinessDay Sunday, was robbed near Alaka bus stop, on Funsho William Avenue (Western Avenue). Agomuo lost three GSM handsets, ipad and cash to the gun wielding two-man gang, who held him hostage while other motorists throttled on in the slow moving traffic caused by horde of articulated trucks which for several months now have converted part of the road to their parking lot.
Two weeks ago, Chuka Uroko, the property editor of BusinessDay, had his car’s windscreen smashed by street urchins who meant to rob him around Ijora-Olopa inward Apapa.
In the last one month over 80 suspected traffic robbers have been arrested in specific areas as security operatives intensify effort to check the increasing activities of the robbers and raise the confidence of motorists who have become their soft target.
Reports obtained by BusinessDay from Rapid Response Squad (RRS), the anti-crime security outfit of the police command, in Lagos, show that places like Oshodi Oke (on the bridge) and Oshodi Isale (under bridge) stretching towards PWD on Lagos-Agege expressway are areas where street robbers engage in nefarious activities. Over 45 suspects have been reportedly arrested around these areas as security operatives now regularly patrol the areas during traffic build-ups.
Other indentified black spots include Mile 2, around Fagbem filling station where 13 suspects have been arrested, as well as CMS, on Lagos Island, with 12 suspects so far caught.
Another area where the police are keeping eagle eye is Apongbong- outward Eko Bridge where the rogues take advantage of traffic jam in morning and evening rushing hours to rob unsuspecting motorists especially those who carelessly display their GSM handsets, handbags and other valuables while on wheel.
Alaba Rago, near Lagos State University (LASU) main campus, Ojo, is also identified as area where the criminals are cashing in on heavy congestion occasioned by the ongoing construction work on Lagos-Badagry expressway, to rob occupants of private cars. They are said to have devised various means of getting at their target, including smashing of vehicle glasses and showing guns to their victims. Three suspects, according to the security operatives, have been nabbed in this area.
Other areas are Lekki/Ajah where four suspects have been arrested, Marine Bridge, in Apapa, with two suspects so far nabbed, as well as Ojodu Berger, on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
Members of the business community led by Nike Akande, president of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) while meeting with Governor Akinwumi Ambode two weeks ago had expressed concerns about the activities of street robbers who take advantage of gridlock to dispossess unsuspecting members of the public and motorists of their valuables, and called on the government to intensify efforts at riding the state of such criminal elements.
Governor Ambode while addressing the concerns raised by the captains of industry assured that the government was leaving no stone unturned in the effort to make the state safe for living and doing business.
Ambode, who confirmed the arrests of many of the street robbers, said security operatives in the state have adopted various strategies including deployment of plain cloth officers on traffic prone roads to check the activities of the urchins as the festive period drew closer.
28 awaiting trial inmates regain freedom in Ekiti
RAPHAEL ADEYANJU, Ado Ekiti
The Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Ayodeji Daramola has ordered the release of 28 awaiting trial inmates from the federal prison in Ado Ekiti.
Justice Daramola gave the order after reviewing the cases of the 329 awaiting trial inmates in detention during his visit to the prison.
About 18 of the inmates were released unconditionally while the remaining 10 inmates were freed based on the legal advice of the State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) that they had no case to answer.
Justice Daramola advised the released inmates to be of good behaviour as they rejoined the larger society stressing that there was no gain in engaging in criminal activities. He commended the authorities of Ado Ekiti prison for clean environment and expressed hope that the issue of congestion in the prison would be solved when the new block of cells under construction is completed.
The chief judge also lauded stakeholders in the judicial sector for their contributions to the dispensation of justice in the state.
Tope Aguda, the deputy comptroller of prisons in the state, urged the released inmates to be good ambassadors of their various families and avoid acts capable of bringing them back to the prison.