Mo­tor­cy­cle Thieves, Own­ers at War in Abuja

Af­ter los­ing limbs and bikes to ram­pag­ing crim­i­nals, com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­cle own­ers are fight­ing back a crime that has be­come ram­pant in the FCT.

Sunday Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Taiwo Adeniyi, Abubakar Sadiq Isah, Cle­ment A. Oloyede & Fumi Si­mon Favour

Mo­tor­cy­cles are in droves in Kubwa, Nyanya, Gwagwa, Dei-Dei, Kwali, Abaji, Bwari and other com­mu­ni­ties. The surge in com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­cling by youths has led to an at­ten­dant rise in mo­tor­cy­cle theft. Un­like, cars, it could be eas­ily car­ried away with­out sus­pi­cion and eas­ily dis­posed by thieves.

The ban by the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FCTA) on the op­er­a­tion of the mo­tor­cy­cles within the city cen­tre has lim­ited com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­cle op­er­a­tion to satel­lite towns, ur­ban slums and vil­lages within the area coun­cils.

Due to the ram­pant cases of theft which have made sev­eral com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­clists hav­ing frac­tures and oth­ers in­juries, they have also de­vised means of sur­vival which in­clude the use of charms, knives and out­right killing of sus­pected mo­tor­cy­cle thief.

“What is go­ing on be­tween the mo­tor­cy­clists and snatch­ers is very se­ri­ous in Kuje. The hood­lums some­times kill any mo­tor­cy­cle op­er­a­tor that re­fused to let go of their mo­tor­cy­cle, in re­tal­i­a­tion, the Okada peo­ple vend their anger on any sus­pected thief,” Martins John, a Pegi res­i­dent said.

“If any Okada per­son should call you a thief, you are in dan­ger of be­ing lynched,” he said ad­ding that in­no­cent peo­ple are also af­fected by the sit­u­a­tion.

Hav­ing been at­tacked once by the hood­lums, Ghali Us­man, a com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­cle op­er­a­tor in Gwag­wal­ada, said he would have loved to carry charms as a means to pro­tect­ing him­self from knife and gun but for his re­li­gious in­junc­tion.

He said sev­eral mo­tor­cy­clists now have knives hid­den in their clothes or un­der the mo­tor­cy­cle seats in prepa­ra­tion for the hood­lums.

Us­man how­ever said there are sev­eral things that come with car­ry­ing knives around as the mo­tor­cy­clist would have to be for­ti­fied by charms so that “knife will not pen­e­trate his body” if used on him.

“If you are car­ry­ing knife then you have to be sure that you have charms so that the knife will not pen­e­trate your body be­cause such at­tacks usu­ally ends in a fight in which the hood­lums are more pre­pared,” Us­man said.

On how he pro­tects him­self from the hood­lums, he said, “I rely on my ex­pe­ri­ence and in­stincts in this busi­ness. There are some places I do not go at night and peo­ple I don’t carry.”

How­ever, Ka­mal Sal­isu, an­other mo­tor­cy­cle op­er­a­tor in Gwag­wal­ada said not all the thieves use force or vi­o­lence to per­pe­trate their heinous act.

“The man used sense,” nar­rat­ing an at­tempt to snatch his mo­tor­cy­cle. “I took him to Stu­dent Villa in Phase III where he met a man who pre­tended to be his boss. The boss now asked the pas­sen­ger why he did not come with his wife, in­sist­ing that he must go and bring his wife. He now told me to give him my mo­tor­cy­cle while I stay with his boss.” Sal­isu said with his re­quest, he was sus­pi­cions, forced the man down from his mo­tor­cy­cle and left hur­riedly.

Solomon Daniel was not as lucky as he lost one mo­tor­cy­cle to the thieves. He de­scribed his ex­pe­ri­ence from the hood­lums as sad and pa­thetic ad­ding that he had thought he was smarter than his friends when­ever they share their ex­pe­ri­ences until he met his wa­ter­loo.

“I picked a pas­sen­ger from Karu Bridge who claimed to be a driver go­ing to NNPC petrol sta­tion. He told me that po­lice im­pounded his car and he wanted to see his boss so that he could col­lect the ve­hi­cle from the po­lice,” Solomon Daniel who op­er­ates in Nyanya stated while nar­rat­ing his or­deal in the hands of the thieves.

“When we got there, two peo­ple came out while I was try­ing to give him change. They pointed a gun at me that I should give them the mo­tor­cy­cle or they would kill me. I was left with no op­tion than to hand over the mo­tor­cy­cle keys to them,” he said.

Mar­shay Dabo, how­ever, said Daniel was lucky to have been robbed once as he had been a vic­tim thrice. On one of such oc­ca­sions, he picked a pas­sen­ger from Nyanya Bus Stop to Mararaba. On tak­ing the pas­sen­ger to his des­ti­na­tion, some guys at­tacked him with ma­chete and snatched his mo­tor­cy­cle.

Dabo also said the thieves ap­ply dif­fer­ent strate­gies for dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. Due to his first ex­pe­ri­ence, he said, he was more care­ful and watch­ful of the peo­ple he car­ries until the sec­ond in­ci­dent.

This time, and the thief used drugs on him. He slept off and was dumped by the road­side, where he was also robbed.

Pref­er­ence for new mo­tor­cy­cles with re­ceipts

Some of the vic­tims said the thieves have flair for new mo­tor­cy­cles. Gimba Saidu said his mo­tor­cy­cle was stolen from his house in Da­giri vil­lage, Gwag­wal­ada Area Coun­cil at gun point two weeks af­ter it was bought. Saidu ex­plained that the rise in mo­tor­cy­cle snatch­ing within Gwag­wal­ada me­trop­o­lis has con­tin­ued un­abated.

Ka­mal Sal­isu said be­fore he got a place where he lives, there are cases whereby armed thieves would in­vade where they sleep, usu­ally an un­com­pleted build­ing or shanty, re­quest­ing for their keys.

“They will go and se­lect the bet­ter Okada,” he said. He con­tin­ued, “Af­ter the se­lec­tion, they will now re­quest for re­ceipts of the mo­tor­cy­cle. If you de­cline they will search your pock­ets and ev­ery­where in the room for the re­ceipts, money and other things,” he said.

Isah Mo­hammed, an­other mo­tor­cy­cle op­er­a­tor, said some thieves do come with trucks where they load the mo­tor­cy­cles. “These not are or­di­nary thieves. They at­tack with guns and force ev­ery­one to a cor­ner af­ter col­lect­ing the keys. They will choose the best mo­tor­cy­cles and go with it,” he said ad­ding that in such cases hav­ing a rick­ety mo­tor­cy­cle could be a bless­ing.

Also in Kuje Area Coun­cil, Yakubu Saleh, 27, said his mo­tor­cy­cle was snatched at gun point at Kuchi­ako vil­lage.

He said the in­ci­dent hap­pened at about 8p.m. while con­vey­ing two pas­sen­gers from Tip­per Garage. They at­tacked him at a sharp bend few me­tres to the com­mu­nity.

Yakubu said the mo­tor­cy­cle was stolen a week af­ter he bought it with the pro­ceeds of his farm har­vest.

Some mo­tor­cy­clists in Karu said sev­eral peo­ple were at­tacked in the last few months, with their mo­tor­cy­cles and other valu­ables taken away.

One of the mo­tor­cy­clists, Hamza Adamu, said that the at­tacks had be­come a “daily af­fair,” ad­ding that in some in­stances, the at­tack­ers drugged their vic­tims be­fore car­ry­ing out the heinous act.

Sal­isu Mo­hammed was at­tacked twice. He said that his mo­tor­cy­cle and valu­ables were taken by the thieves af­ter they sprin­kled some pow­dery sub­stance into his eyes.

“In fact, I was un­con­scious and left on the ground be­fore some good Sa­mar­i­tans took me to my house in Mararaba with the help

of my mem­ber­ship iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card,’’ he said.

Also an­other mo­tor­cy­clist, Ezekiel Daniel, said that op­er­at­ing mo­tor­cy­cle around Karu had be­come scary as “one does not know when the un­ex­pected will hap­pened.”

Nar­rat­ing his or­deal, he said he was once at­tacked at about 7 p.m. but was lucky to have es­caped with the help of some pedes­tri­ans.

Day­light not a bar­rier to the thieves

The ac­tiv­i­ties of the mo­tor­cy­cles thieves are not re­stricted to the night, they also steal in day­time. David Al­kali, a com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­clist in Nyanya had parked his mo­tor­cy­cle while he en­tered a restau­rant by the road­side. He had barely set­tled down to eat when he no­ticed his mo­tor­cy­cle had been removed from it was parked.

He said mo­tor­cy­cle theft was ram­pant in the sub­urb while some of his col­leagues had been killed. “At times they use weapon to in­tim­i­date us while some thieves hit their vic­tim with iron while rid­ing be­fore he re­gains con­scious­ness they must have gone with the Okada,” he said.

An­other 28-year-old com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­clist in Abaji, Abu­drasheed Abubakar, also lost his mo­tor­cy­cle to some sus­pected thieves in Na­harati vil­lage, Abaji Area Coun­cil dur­ing the day.

He said he had picked two pas­sen­gers from Abaji Round­about to Na­harati when he was sent by an­other res­i­dent who pre­tended to be a pas­sen­ger to buy sa­chet wa­ter from a nearby shop. “I left my mo­tor­cy­cle and be­fore I re­turned, they had stolen my mo­tor­cy­cle,” he said.

With these in­ci­dences, Isah Mo­hammed, who has been do­ing the work for more than ten years, said there is no amount of money that would make him take pas­sen­gers to some lo­ca­tions in Gwag­wal­ada.

“No mat­ter how much you pay me there are some places I can­not take you dur­ing the day­time or at night. Places like Kuje Road, Chikuku, Paikon Kore road, Difa, af­ter univer­sity hos­pi­tal, be­hind ra­dio house and some lo­ca­tions in Ku­tunku,” he said.

Why we carry out jun­gle jus­tice

“I laboured to get the Okada and some­one steal it, so it was a painful ex­pe­ri­ence. I find it very dif­fi­cult be­cause the Okada is my only source of in­come as such I went through hard times which I had to travel back to the vil­lage to get over it.

“So, when­ever we ap­pre­hend the per­pe­tra­tors, we beat them out of anger be­cause the po­lice are not do­ing enough when we re­port cases. Rather, they will be bring­ing some al­le­ga­tions against us. That is why we do take the laws in our hands be­cause many Okada riders have been killed like an­i­mals by those thieves,” David Al­kali said.

Solomon Daniel said he was dev­as­tated when his mo­tor­cy­cle was stolen. “When­ever will ar­rest those thieves and hand them over to the po­lice they will not pun­ish them fur­ther so when we ap­pre­hend them, we take the law into our hands. We will beat them first be­fore hand­ing them over to the po­lice,” he said.

We have suc­cess­ful ar­rest – Po­lice

The spokesman of the FCT Po­lice Com­mand, DSP An­juguri Man­zah told one of our re­porters that the com­mand has made suc­cess­ful ar­rests of mo­tor­cy­cle thieves and pros­e­cu­tions of those ar­rested were on­go­ing. He added that with the com­mand’s proac­tive mea­sures, which he said in­cluded de­ploy­ments of sev­eral pa­trol teams and stopand-search op­er­a­tions, there have been min­i­mal re­ports of such crim­i­nal­ity.

He, how­ever, said the com­mand was not rest­ing on its achieve­ment but is also en­gag­ing mo­tor­cy­cle riders on how to safe­guard them­selves.

On al­leged jun­gle jus­tices be­ing meted on ap­pre­hended sus­pects, Man­zah said the com­mand urge members of the pub­lic not to take laws into their own hands but to re­port any un­law­ful acts to the near­est po­lice sta­tion with the as­sur­ance that the com­mand will as usual con­tinue to take ac­tions to pro­tect lives and prop­er­ties in all the ar­eas of the FCT.

But, as it is, the steal­ing of mo­tor­cy­cles by any means, may not be re­duced or over soon.

PHO­TOS:

A com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­clist picks a pas­sen­ger in Mpape, Abuja Ab­dul Musa

Mo­tor­cy­cle op­er­a­tors wait for pas­sen­gers in Mpape, an Abuja sub­urb

Most com­mer­cial mo­tor­cy­clist are care­ful of the pas­sen­gers they pick and the lo­ca­tions they ply.

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