Residents of Ogungbesan Street, Coker, along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos, say they are under siege from robbers that have been terrorising the neighbourhood for about one month.
The incidents took a turn for the worse on Tuesday when a security guard in one of the houses on the street, Garuba Muhammed, was shot dead by robbers who attacked a compound he manned.
We learnt that the deceased’s younger brother, Musa, who lived with him, was receiving treatment at a hospital for gunshot wounds he sustained in the leg during the attack.
The street is about two kilometres from a police post at Second Rainbow, where the dwellers said had become a hotbed of traffic robberies in recent times.
Some residents who spoke to our correspondent during the week said the attacks had denied them of sound sleep at night.
“There have been cases of robbery on our street and around Second Rainbow recently,” a tenant, who identified herself only as Grace, told City Round. “People are now scared to pass through the street once it is 8pm. We are no longer safe, we can’t sleep at night.”
Grace lamented that closeness of the police post to the street had not helped in addressing the ugly trend despite complaints lodged to the police.
She said, “Those criminals rob from house to house. Policemen come to collect money from commercial motorcycle and tricycle riders on the street but once it is 7pm, we won’t see them (policemen) again and thieves will take over the street.
“The robbers killed a security guard around 4am on Tuesday because he raised the alarm. The police cannot claim they did not hear gunshots because the street is close to the police post.”
Another resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told of a victim who was hacked after robbers dispossessed him of his valuables.
He added, “I learnt the man is still in a hospital. We have lost sleep because of the incidents. We live close to a police post. It is shocking that robbers are operating freely.”
Many of the robbery victims said they were afraid to speak to the press on the attacks. But a civil engineer, who preferred to be identified simply as Omotayo, recounted his harrowing encounter with five robbers in police uniform last Friday.
He stated, “Around 7.30pm last Friday, I was coming from Apapa and passed through First Rainbow. Close to the police post, I was attacked by five men in police uniform. Two of them were carrying AK-47 guns while the others were armed with knives.
“I quickly hid my iPhone under the carpet. They broke the glass of my car and collected my second phone and wallet containing my ATM cards. They thought I wore jewellery and tore my clothes. I carried two people at the back. They collected their bags, phones and ran away. I reported the incident on Saturday morning at the Orile Police Station.
“What surprised me was that the spot was busy that Friday. I never expected I could be robbed at that particular time. More surprisingly, those people wore police uniforms and wielded AK-47 guns. Once I am in traffic in that area now, I am always scared.”
The Chairman of a residents’ association on Ogungbesan Street, Mr Henry Oluoba, said on Thursday, two days after Muhammed was killed, the robbers struck again.
He said, “For the past one month now, we have been having sleepless nights because of robberies. On Tuesday, they robbed a house and killed Muhammed. They also shot his younger brother, Musa, in the leg and went away with two motorcycles.
“Two days before then, on Sunday, robbers went to a compound next to where the guard was killed. They were so comfortable that they ate with the family and asked the woman to transfer money into an account. They confirmed the transfer before they left. They also collected their victims’ phones.”
Oluoba said the residents proposed to mount gates on the two ends of the street but the Coker/Aguda Local Council Development Area told them they could only put barriers to be watched 24 hours. The street is a link road connecting the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and Orile Road.
The chairman added, “Nobody seems to be willing to help. I reported the incident at the Orile Police Station and the police post at Second Rainbow. Policemen come to the area to collect money from tricycle riders but they have not been able to do anything about the robbery which happens daily.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area was working with community development associations to rid the neighbourhood of criminals.
He stated, “The DPO said he was aware of the driver’s (Omotayo) case attacked but he was unaware that the robbers wore police uniforms. Orile Police Station was one of the police stations set ablaze during the #EndSARS protest. The Commissioner of Police mobilised the DPO back to the place and gave him some vehicles so that police presence could be felt in the area.
“The DPO is working with CDA chairmen in the area on community policing. Orile is close to Mile 2, Apapa, where there is an influx of miscreants. The DPO is trying his best to rid the area of those bad boys.”