ASO CHRONICLES Bag snatchers on the prowl in Kubwa
Until recently, Kubwa, a satellite town in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had been known to have three major entrances, the first gate (Federal Housing Junction), the second gate (NNPC Junction) and the third gate (NYSC Junction).
But with the creation of another route in-between the Federal Housing and NNPC junctions during the expansion of the ten-lane carriage Abuja-Zuba expressway about four years ago, another junction, linking majorly Phase 3 axis and other areas of the town automatically sprang up.
Although this new entrance is yet to be formally recognized as a gate, it has gradually become a popular junction where residents not only stand to wait to board vehicles, but also where commercial and private motorists alike stop to pick and drop off their passengers.
Expectedly too, the junction has also turned to a beehive of business activities, as petty traders and hawkers have taken advantage of the busy junction to display their wares along the road, especially in the evenings.
It is therefore not surprising to notice the presence of miscreants exploring the busy environment to carry out their nefarious activities, thereby rendering the entire area insecure.
Close observation reveals that as commercial activities are busy going on, one side of the junction along the expressway, some bandits are also busy laying ambush on their innocent victims (mostly ladies) and snatching their bags with valuable items in them.
Almost on daily bases, cases of women who fall prey to the activities of these criminal elements are recorded, with some of them being arrested by the police, while others smartly escape.
One of the victims, Florence Ichegbu, who narrated her ordeal to Aso Chronicle, lamented how she cried and screamed for help the day she lost her bag to the robbers, saying she helplessly watched the criminal run away with her precious and expensive bag containing valuable items.
“As soon as I alighted from the vehicle, within five seconds, the handbag I was hanging on my shoulder just disappeared from my hand. It was just like a dream. As I looked back, I saw the man running towards the bush. All I could do was to shout with no one to help,” she bemoaned.
Speaking with Aso Chronicle at the Kubwa Police station, one of the suspects, Emmanuel Oche, who was unlucky to be nabbed by the police while carrying out the act, confessed he was lured into the crime by one of the handbag snatchers.
Oche, a commercial motor park tout, popularly called ‘agbero’, said he was busy with his work one day when the robber approached him with a promise to introduce him to a new business which he refused to disclose to him immediately.
“He told me that he would introduce me to a more profitable business which would pay off than the one I am doing. When I inquired what the business was all about, he said he would only tell me when we get to the location of the business,” he said.
According to the suspect, the robber, who he admitted to have known earlier and had always seen handling different kinds of phones, took him to Phase 3 junction, and asked him to position himself by the nearby bush where he would stay to learn the act of bag-snatching.
He said he stood for a couple of minutes from where he watched, observed and monitored carefully how the bags were being snatched from the ladies, either as they were about to enter a vehicle, while they stood waiting for a vehicle, or as soon as they alighted from the vehicle.
Oche, who revealed that they usually took advantage of the nearby bush where they ran into as soon as they succeeded in snatching the bags, said he was asked to resume almost immediately, after he was confirmed to have learnt the act.
“Once you snatch a bag from a lady, you don’t open it until you run inside the bush where you submit it to the boss who is only entitled to open it and give you what ever he likes. Sometimes he gave me N100 or N50, or at best, gave me the phones from the stolen bag to go and sell and remit the proceeds accordingly,” he stated.
While confessing that the fateful day he was caught was his third attempt in the crime, the suspect however said he regretted ever joining the gang, describing that day as miserable, as he was almost beaten to death by the policemen when he was arrested.
He promised not only to go back to the crime again if forgiven, but to also assist the police in apprehending his accomplices.
Reacting to the ugly trend, the Kubwa Divisional Police Officer, Chief Superintendent Nurrudeen Sabo, said although the crime is worrisome, it is not overwhelming, pledging the determination of his team not to rest on their oars until the entire environment is rid of the hoodlums.
He disclosed that his team had taken certain proactive measures in check-mating the criminal activities, including periodic stationing of ambush squad at the black spot, as well as regular routine patrol of the area.
Sabo also hinted the collaboration of his squad with some scavengers resident within the area, who he said, have been of assistance in exposing the criminals, adding that he had requested them to clear the entire bush within the area which had served as their hideouts.
Confirming the arrests of not less than five suspects with bags and other valuable items recovered from them, the DPO enjoined the residents, particularly women to be vigilant and wary of the activities of the criminals, including avoidance of stopping within the area in order not to fall prey of the hoodlums.