By Mohammed Abdullahi.
The number of robberies committed in Kaduna using Okada, the local name for motorcycles, is steadily on the increase. The robberies have so much in common, something that make them stand out for that reason alone.
Most occurred at mostly quiet and not so busy spots in highbrow areas in the city. The way items, especially phones and hand bags, were taken are so similar that it is possible a criminal syndicate is at work.
In what appeared to be one of the troubling cases of the robbery incidents, this reporter on Thursday felled victim. I boarded a tricycle right in front of the NYSC Secretariat located on Kinshasa road in Ungwan Rimi GRA enroute a popular restaurant on Maiduguri road. This was in the afternoon around 2:35pm.
Along the road on which Barau Dikko hospital was located, and just some distance from Hotel 17, two young men on a Jincheng motorcycle suddenly blocked the road, pointing knives at the three of us (the driver, myself and one other passenger) inside the tricycle.
Seeing the looks of the knive-wielding thieves, with bloodshot eyes which was possibly a result of overdosing on some substance, we did the smart thing, which was to surrender all we had in our possession. After taken my phone, wallet and the handbag of the other passenger, a lady, they mounted their motorcycle and zoomed off. All the while they were dispossessing us, our driver bowed his head, with face on the wheels of his motorcycle, and did not look up until the robbers left.
We didn’t just watch as the thieves made away with our possessions. We shouted. We yelled. We even chorused ‘Barawo!’ (Hausa word for thief) so we could draw the attention of the passers-by who we hoped would help us apprehend the thieves on the run. But as we chorused ‘Barawo,’ the few people who were close by focused their gaze on us, the victims, as if we were putting up some funny act. Nobody made any attempt to give the thieves a chase, and it was as if the people of that area were already accustomed to seeing such scenes. They appeared unmoved and unfazed by our ordeals.
Everyone I narrated my experience to after the incident said the tricycle driver was complicit. They said the fact that nothing was taken from him was enough reason to suspect him. In truth, I also thought of getting the young tricycle driver arrested. I equally considered the option of tracking the phone the thieves took from me. But when I did a cost-benefit analysis of that option, and given the slowness of getting any effective service from our police stations in Nigeria; I decided it was better I accept what happened in good faith.
Since that robbery incident on Thursday, many other Kaduna residents have shared their not so pleasant experiences with me, especially with robberies that happened right inside the tricycles while they were in motion. According to reports, passengers are frequently robbed by miscreants in cahoots with the tricycle drivers. There is also the case of phone snatching, either by robbers operating on a motorcycle or those hanging around the motor parks. Kaduna town is becoming unsafe and it’s highly traumatizing.
No doubt, any resident or visitor to Kaduna State would see unprecedented work being done by the governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufa, especially in the area of roads and urban renewal. But of what use is a beautiful city if people can’t freely move about without the fear of being robbed or molested? This is why the governor would have to review the internal security plan of Kaduna State as a matter of urgency. No doubt, a situation where people get robbed in broad daylight cannot bode well for this city that doubles as the heart of northern Nigeria.