Robberies, harassment, pocket picking and other crimes have over the years taken over the Computer Village, Ikeja Along and Ikeja Underbridge areas of Lagos.
Usually bustling with activities every day of the working week, Ikeja can be described as the commercial hub of the state. With thousands of workers in petty to large organisations, the area becomes rowdy during the morning rush and close of work.
However, robbers, area boys, pick pockets and other vices are threatening to mar the activities in the area. In this report, Newsbreak spoke to some people who have suffered attacks in the area.
Yinka Anifowose, an employee of a private company on Allen Avenue, told Newsbreak that she was attacked with a bottle and her phone around Ikeja Along last year.
“I was going to work early in the morning, it was raining, and everywhere was actually dark. Since it was very early, I had to use my phone torchlight to navigate my way because it was flooded.
“Suddenly someone hit me with a bottle on my head while another slapped me, they were many hanging around. They collected my phone and beat me because I struggled with them, I did not want to release it to them. They only made away with my phone, they could not collect my bag,” she said.
Another person, Ruth Offor, a bank intern, who suffered similar fate said she had also been robbed at Ikeja Along around 7:30pm.
“It was painful, I just bought the phone with my annual contribution. It was even more shocking everyone around me just acted like nothing happened,” she said.
“The guys, I think two, approached me at the railway but I walked away from them, thinking they were one of those boys harassing women. They followed me to the bus stop and one of them just pulled my hand back and the other snatched my phone and he warned me that next time I walk out on them, I’ll be stabbed.”
Stephen Olowofela, an employee of a private firm around Opebi, told this medium that he had been accosted by a scruffy-looking man at Ikeja Underbridge on his way from work.
“This guy walked up to me while I alighted from a keke one evening on my way home. He asked that I give him money. I didn’t mind him because he was harassing me saying he would beat me if I did not give him something. After having a bad day at work, I told him I would beat him up and nothing would happen.
“I’m sure he had never been challenged before because he then said he would call their ‘chairman’ for me. I told him I’d wait for him. At that point, he just stopped and said I should arrange something for them or he would stab me,” he said.
“I must admit I was scared but I was really angry and decided to fight him if he tried anything. I then yelled back that I would call my boys too and we would burn down Ikeja.
“When he heard that, he backed off and yelled after I left that I’m lucky he would have beaten me but for my size. I was really shocked that passers-by did not even bat an eyelid.
“Since then, I just hang around Allen to get a straight bus or car to my area not minding the time it would get full.”
Olowofela said he had another experience with another lout who asked for his phone. He said he backed off when he told him he had not eaten since morning too and his well-ironed shirt and trousers is just ‘packaging’.
Joshua Ekeh, a tech expert, also shared similar experience. However, he was not as lucky as Olowofela. His phone was seized and N2,000 collected from him with the threat that they would withdraw all the money in his bank accounts via his ATM cards which were also collected.
“On my way to my way home from Egbeda I took a bus and alighted at Ikeja along and then walked down to Ikeja underbridge to take another bus to Secretariat. As I got to underbridge, one of these touts accosted me and was demanding some money from me. I quickly walked away from him but as I did three or four others blocked me in front and demanded that I respond to their oga.
“Seeing I was surrounded I gave them the N200 note in my hands. As I made to continue my movement, they came back and said I had disrespected their oga that I can’t go. I tried to enter into a Keke to leave the vicinity but they threatened to join me and the expression from the Keke rider was as if to say ‘please don’t involve me in this’. I looked around and everyone seemed to be minding their business,” he said.
“I wanted to run but I thought ‘these guys might harm me if not successful’. They took my phone and promised to give it back if I give them more money. I gave them all the cash I had on me (about #2,000) but it wasn’t enough. They took my wallet collected my debit cards and began to threaten me for the PIN. We went to an ATM nearby and threatened that if I gave the wrong pin they would deal with me. At that point, all I wanted to do was just to leave so I gave them the PIN. He dialed the pin on my phone and walked away. Thankfully, I was able to block my cards before any transaction was initiated.”
We’ve been having complaints from people but not from those areas you mentioned. If people don’t report crime, how do they want us to address such issues? I’m not aware until you mentioned that such things have been going on in those areas.
If you have a case and you don’t report to the police, you are not helping yourself and the system. I’m sitting in front of a system right now collating reports of crime in the state, but if people don’t report these things, how do we address them?
If we had done a video call, you would have seen me sitting in front of a computer. If people don’t report crime, we would assume that nothing of such is happening. We will record zero. It affects our statistics. We do pie chart of areas where crimes are rampant and the nature of crime. So it affects our statistics.
They said they have lost confidence in police since we don’t arrest anybody. They should report first, then accuse us of not doing anything about it.
Nigerians lack commitment to be civic, report and follow up on cases. I don’t know them, you know them. Please tell them to report. Nigerians must be involved in fighting crime.