‘How I rescued a victim of one-chance robbery’
At about 8:15 pm on Friday, September 26th, 2018, I was driving from Kubwa towards central Abuja for an appointment. It was a regular day - playing loud music, minding my business and trying to make up for heading out too late. Just as I was making a U-turn after Brick City, a dramatic scene played out before me.
A Mazda taxi, coming from the Zuba side of the express sped past and the same instant, I saw a woman rolling on the tarmac about 20 meters from me. She suddenly leaped to her feet and waved at me frantically.
At first, I was confused because everything had happened in a split second. Again, it was a dark and deserted area. Anyway, I stopped and wound down the window to talk to her. Trembling, she told me just what I had feared - she was a victim of the one-chance menace and she had just been tossed out of their vehicle in their usual brutal manner.
She was bruised all over. The bruises were not all from falling out of the car. They had beaten her until both her eyes were swollen. The left one looked almost blinded and bleeding. I felt enraged.
Acting on impulse, I asked her to hop in and went after her tormentors. I soon caught up with their car. My original intention was to follow them, record their plate number and track them until we reached an area with many people and/or cars where I could block them and call for help.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t any such place that night. I contemplated ramming them off the road, but then it didn’t seem too wise considering the possible damage and the fact that they may be at an advantage since I was the only one and they were three. I tracked them for about 10 minutes while I told the woman to record a video with my phone. The men were gesturing at me to back down. Then they took a sudden diversion and I couldn’t find them again. They probably hid in the shadows somewhere.
Seeing that they were gone, I headed back to Kubwa, to the checkpoint at Arab road junction. There I met an officer named Nnamdi Odenigbo. After narrating the incident, he thanked me for helping the woman, exchanged numbers with me and directed me to Phase 4 Police Station.
At this point, the woman began to feel really faint. She was asking for water, but the policemen said I shouldn’t get her water. The police station was a long drive away. Officer Odenigbo kept calling to ensure the woman was fine. It was past 10 pm when we got there and two patrol vans with some officers met us at the gate. They observed that the woman needed immediate medical attention and escorted us to the Kubwa General hospital where she was admitted. They responded quickly, even though I had to pay before they did that.
Before I left the hospital around 11 pm, two of the officers, Dickson Jerome, and Onu Mathias, gave me their numbers, thanking me for taking the risk. Four things bother me about this experience
Firstly, the victim is a poor woman barely surviving. According to her, she had just collected her salary - a meager N25,000 that day and had withdrawn N2000 with which she bought foodstuff at Kubwa market. It was after that purchase that she boarded the one-chance car on her way to Mpape.
Secondly, the attackers were extremely and, I think, needlessly, violent. Just after boarding, they had turned on her, punching slapping, choking and stabbing her in the thigh with a small pointed knife multiple times to subdue her and extract her ATM card PIN.
Again it had been too easy, exposing our security lapses. The criminals had so boldly driven to an ATM gallery for one of them to make withdrawals while his cohorts choked the innocent woman with her own scarf in the vehicle. She told me that she could hear people passing by the car throughout the ordeal!
Lastly, the reaction of people when I shared a small anecdote on Facebook surprised me. Most people felt sorry for her and at the same time thought I was stupid for two reasons - helping her, considering that she could have died in my vehicle; and ‘foolishly’ following her abductors instead of just letting them go. We do not realize that it is because of our collective cowardice that people like the men who abducted the lady thrive.
The last time I spoke with the woman - through someone else’s phone, she said she was recuperating fine, but she couldn’t go out under the sun because of her badly damaged eye.
Samson, a poet based in Abuja, wrote in from Wuse II
The victim is a poor woman barely surviving. According to her, she had just collected her salary - a meager N25,000 that day and had withdrawn N2000 with which she bought foodstuff at Kubwa market. It was after that purchase that she boarded the one-chance car on her way to Mpape