By Mary Amodu
The rate of ‘one chance’ robbery incidents in Abuja is becoming more increasingly alarming as security forces are almost oblivious of what these disguising criminals, mainly jobless folks, are doing to harm innocent passengers on the highways.
Investigations by Nigerian News Direct showed that rather than succumbing to security agencies’ threats, the dare devil criminals who engage in these nefarious activities and deprive scores of their victims their valuable assets like phones, cash, jewelries and others are adopting new approaches to escape arrests and go away with their loot by the day.
A painful story of the menace is captured in Esther Gamaliel, a housewife, who boarded a vehicle after work, but didn’t get back home from an outing. She fell prey to the hawks of once chance robbers. After an alarm was raised and her husband and relatives embarked on a frantic search for her to no avail, two days later she was found dead at the outskirts of one of Abuja satellite towns. Her husband, John narrated how it all happened.
He said: I spoke to my wife when I was at work on that fateful day, she informed me she was going home, later that evening after I left work and reached home only to discover she wasn’t home as she informed me, I then called her phone and found that it was switched off, I became worried.
“I spoke with my neighbours and later called some of our relatives and her friends to know her where about but no answer was forthcoming. I went through the night in great anxiety. The next day I contacted the police and went round Abuja trying to trace her usual route home in the hope that something might come up. But nothing happened.
“It was the next day that was two days after she went missing that I was called by the police and I went to the police station at Zuba area, to discover the sad outcome. I am so traumatized right now. I can’t explain it and I don’t know what to do”, the widower mourned.
Also, recounting her experience Louis, a journalist, who boarded a cab from Nyanya to Kubawa to collect her clothes from her tailor didn’t find it funny when three men who she thought were passengers in the cab started harassing her.
According to her, on her way to Kubuwa from Nyanya she boarded a cab with over five passengers, noting that actually they didn’t look suspicious as they were young and neatly dressed young men.
She recounted her experience further: “I wasn’t the only lady in the car, so I felt there was no reason or what so ever for me to be scared.
“When we got to Gwarimpa the lady dropped. So, it was just me and the other three men with the driver, I still wasn’t scared because the driver was stopping at every junction to call on passenger. Well, we didn’t get any, however when we approached Kubuwa, a man, one of the passengers forcefully collected my bag and carried all the money.
“I thought that was the end but he took my phone saw my account balance and asked me to bring out my ATM card and brought out a POS where they withdrew all the money in my account, took my phone and threw me out if the car”, Louis added.
Speaking on how to curb the menace, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Painted Commercial Taxi Abuja Drivers’ Association (PAT), Shehu Shugaba Yar’adua, has called on the FCT Minister to implement the policies of printed vehicles in the city.
Yar’adua advised that to address this issue, AMAC should enforce policies that require all drivers in Abuja to paint their cars in Abuja colour with identification numbers so as to make it easy to trace any acts committed by the drivers.
He said: “We are appealing to the government to make the policy holistic in the sense that everybody paint their cars and joint the system because people don’t differentiate between taxi drivers and unregistered drivers, thus when an offence is committed, the public generalise it that it is the painted taxi, no it isn’t”.
“Let me make it known that ‘Kabu Kabu’ are unregistered drivers, you can’t identify them because their cars are not painted that’s why we are calling on the government to ensure that this illegal operators do not exist in FCT because they are threats to residents of our city”.
”They need to be arrested or removed and ensure they leave the town. However, if they must do the business, they need to paint their cars and register with the five existing operators in FCT that are being licensed by the FCT Minister. So, if you want to do the business, do the right thing and if they refuse to join, then their operation is illegal which is why we are calling on government to address because this will reduce the ‘one chance’ incidents by 100 percent”, the union leader advocated.