By OKOSUN DENNIS
BEFORE now, the Lekki axis of Lagos was one of the areas in the state people adored and wanted to live jn, especially in terms of a crime-free and serene environment.
Unfortunately, that is becoming a mystery for some residents as criminals have invaded the area making commuting unpalatable. And to others, it is like a nightmare they wouldn’t want to experience again. Even though, some are consumed by the opulence associated with the area, recent developments point to the fact that commuting is becoming a bitter adventure.
A check by National Daily reveals that there is hardly any day that passes without reports or complaints of one evil machination or the other which, at best, reduces Lekki to endemically crime-prone area for habitation.
Before now, it was the notorious activities of “one-chance” whereby commuters are hijacked in commercial buses, robbed and thrown off on a moving vehicle or beaten black and blue after dispossessing them of their valuables. Though, “one-chance” is still common in some areas of the state, the criminals have seem to have modified their tactics and operation considering that the law enforcement agents have dealt them a great blow.
Recounting her experiences to National Daily in the hands of these criminals recently, Mrs Atlas (not her real name) lives in a high brow estate along the Lekki-Epe expressway. She had gone to Victoria Island for an appointment with her doctor when the incident occurred.
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On her way back, she decided to take an unpainted taxi along the Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island.
Unsuspecting that the driver was working in consonance with one other passengers, felt relaxed as the ride back home lasted. To her chagrin, just as she gone pass Crown Estate, few kilometres to her own estate, she started having some strange feelings but couldn’t discern what it was exactly about until she got to the gate of her estate and beckoned on the driver to stop but refused. Before she realised that the person she has been sitting beside was a hardened criminals – hijackers/abductors.
“I asked the driver to stop at our gate. He refused and zoomed off while another passenger threatened two of us to shut up or get our heads blown off. I kept on praying to God for intervention. I was with my little kid and hoped we were not harmed. They swiftly diverted and took us out of Lekki axis to Mowe. It was a howling experience nobody would imagine should happen to him/her.
“They asked me series of questions to ascertain if my husband was rich or any of my relatives. I kept on telling them that we were squatting with a friend; creating an impression that all wasn’t well back home. One thing I notice during the encounter was that they kept on dodging their faces even when I clandestinely tried to look at their faces while begging them.
“Eventually, they relived me of everything I had on me which included cash, phone and jewelleries. Having collected everything, they carefully parked at the side of the road and barked at us to disembark. They immediately zoomed off even before I could look at the registration number of the grey car.”
Commenting on the development and other sundry “one-chance” incidents in Lagos, a security expert, the Managing Director, Pahek Security Limited, Charles Keku, cautioned commuters to be mindful of the kind of unpainted vehicles they board.
“People should enter buses or cars from major bus stops. Though one can also not rule out people boarding buses along the road, they should be vigilant, verify that the taxi they enter is genuine. Boarding vehicles from major bus stop is the best option because things like hijacking passengers is limited but when it does happen, you can trace such vehicle back to their terminus as they are registered to operate.
“It is better you get home late than getting home quickly ending up in criminal den just because you want to enter unpainted car. Our security is important than getting home quickly, Keku advised.
He further cautioned commuters to profile the taxi they enter to know if they are all men inside the vehicle before entry noting that people should not be oblivious that having only men inside a vehicle can sometimes spill doom if they turned out to be criminals. If you can afford a taxi, always use painted taxi you can trace back to their park easily. Engage in quick thinking approach to manage the situation because any mistake made would have been late to correct,” he reiterated.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, Superintendent Dolapo Badmos, said the Nigerian police is going to beam its searchlight on the area with a view to taming their excesses.
She advised victims to report such incident to the nearest police station claiming that they do not have reports of such developments at the command at the moment. “I encourage people to take taxi at the right place. We would beam our searchlight on that axis to track them down,” she added.