By SUNDAY ANI (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bus stops are by definition and purpose, places where people disembark from and board commercial vehicles to their various destinations. They could also be meeting points for strangers. No thanks to dwindling economies, bus stops also serve as resting place and home for destitutes.
In recent times, bus stops began to serve as mini-markets especially for petty traders who sell items like biscuits, sweet, chewing gum, cigarette and local gin. Gradually, the sale of local gin and other alcoholic beverages and cigarettes at bus stops started breeding hoodlums.
Consequently, many bus stops in most cities in the country have become havens for criminals and innocent citizens who use them have bitter tales to tell, where they survive attacks.
Like most commercial cities, Lagos has many dangerous bus stops even though checks revealed that few of them have become relatively safe due to Governor Raji Fashola’s Green Lagos campaign.
To help Lagos commuters and other pedestrians stay off harm’s way, Sunday Sun has identified most of the notorious bus stops that should by used with caution.
Berger bus stop: Danger on long bridge
Reputed for its high criminal rate, investigation revealed that hoodlums operate mainly at the Ojodu-Berger bridge, specifically at Kara, a point after the bridge. According to a newspaper vendor who did not want his name in print, the long bridge is extremely dangerous.
“Security should be beefed up at the Berger Long Bridge because that is where the whole crime in Berger axis is committed every day. Remember the case of an Army General who was stabbed to death by suspected Fulani herdsmen on the bridge while he tried to fix a flat tyre. There was also a recent case of a young man who bought a new motorcycle and was conveying a passenger from the Berger end of the bridge to the Ogun State end. Somewhere in the middle of the bridge, the passenger attacked the rider with a knife concealed in a black polythene bag and made away with the motorcycle”, he narrated.
Also, a GSM recharge card vendor said: “The activities of bad boys around the bridge have made life unbearable for travellers daily, especially strangers. As for the Berger bus stop itself, it is relatively safe. It is the activities of the boys on that bridge that give people the impression that Berger bus stop is dangerous. Government should do something urgently to beef up security on that bridge and forestall further loss of innocent lives.”
Checks revealed that the victims of the roughnecks were mostly motorists whose vehicles broke down on the bridge.
Estate bus stop: Here there’s no night or day
Bamboo is a dangerous spot along Oworonsoki – Ibadan Expressway, about 100 metres from Alapere Housing Estate Bus stop. Investigation revealed that criminals from the hideout always attack early morning commuters at the Estate bus stop and escape to their base. Their modus operandi is to mount roadblock at night between the bus stop and Oworonsoki and pose as policemen on stop-and-search night operation. They would wave down their target to a stop with a torchlight and reveal their true identity. Checks showed that trekking from the bus stop to Oworonsoki, which is a distance of about 300 metres in the afternoon is as dangerous as attempting the same feat at night because for the hoodlums at Bamboo, there is no difference between day and night as long as it is within that black spot.
First Gate junction, Agidingbi: Hard core robbery point
Anyone going to Agidingbi in Ikeja from Berger will pass through a spot called First Gate junction. This is not a bus stop per se, but it has become a black spot where criminals attack people and dispossess them of their valuables without help from the security agents. Armed robbers always trail their targets to this point before they strike.
Painting a gory picture of the junction, a middle-aged man who identified himself as John, and who said he has been doing business at Berger for more than six years, said: “What happens at that point is not petty robbery; it is hard core robbery. I have witnessed about three incidents on different days where the victims were dispossessed of their cars at the same point. It is always between 7:30pm and 8pm when darkness sets in. They prowl around the area waiting for their target. They operate with sophisticated guns, not ordinary jackknives like the ones that snatch handbags and all that. I don’t know their hideout but I believe it is not far from the area. Government should mount serious security surveillance at that point and try to find out their hideout.”
Boundary bus stop in Ajegunle: One million boys’ gang territory
Investigation has shown that new breeze of freedom has swept through the hitherto notorious Boundary bus-stop following the recent clampdown by security agents on the One million boys’ gang of robbers in the area. Before the security agents came to the rescue, Boundary was a theatre of all manner of criminal activities ranging from handbag and jewellery snatching to sundry crimes. But with the revelation of the heinous activities of the terror gang by Sunday Sun recently and the consequent onslaught by the security agents, the hoodlums have disappeared from the vicinity and Boundary bus stop is relatively free from the crimes it was hitherto associated with. Investigations revealed that when the bad boys were on top of the game, they would come in broad daylight and create artificial confusion, and while people ran helter-skelter, they would snatch phones, handbags, money, jewelleries and whatever valuable they could lay hands on, and escape with their loot.
Ijora bus stop: One chance, gang rape…
The name, Ijora sends jitters down the spines of most Lagosians due to the kind of crimes committed there. Ijora bus stop is home to a potpourri of criminal activities ranging from ‘one chance’ to gang rape, and they occur regularly. The boys usually hang around, smoking and drinking alcohol. Late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, their ugly business booms. Any unfortunate female who probably didn’t know much about the place could be gang-raped and dispossessed of her valuables. But the story is a little different now because Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola’s Tree Planting Campaign has just berthed there. The place has been cleared of the bad boys and made difficult for evil business.
Also, flowers have been planted in the spot and police surveillance mounted at different points. Checks revealed that the hoodlums have relocated to their base at Ijora Badia along the railway from where they usually came to attack their targets. Thus, the heat has shifted to the railways, at least for now.
Mile 2 Oke: Hammers, knives, guns used to rob motorists in traffic jam
Another notorious spot, it is greatly feared by Lagos residents. Before the on-going construction of Lagos Light Rail Project, Mile 2 located under the bridge on Badagry Expressway used to be the most dreaded point in the area. But with the construction work ongoing, Mile 2 under bridge has become a haven for the hoodlums who fled the zone due to exposure of all the dark spots where they previously hibernated to carry out their attacks.
Thus, all criminal activities in the area have shifted to the popular Mile 2 Oke along Oshodi-Apapa Express way with innocent Nigerians falling victims daily. The hoodlums also extend their trade to as far as Otto Wharf, a bus-stop after Mile 2 Oke, targeting Apapa-bound commuters.
They use hammer, knife or gun to dispossess their victims of their valuables. Usually, they target men and women in posh cars stuck in traffic jam. A source said: “The worst aspect of it is that the occupants of the car in your front or the one at your back may not know that you are being robbed. They are so adept at the game that they would just raise their shirt for their victims to have a glimpse of the weapon tucked in their trousers. Once you see a gun, knife or hammer, you wouldn’t want to take chances; you would surrender whatever they ask for.
Investigation also revealed that most of the hoodlums would stand at the bus stop clutching black polythene bags or copies of newspapers in their hands, pretending to be passengers. They operate at any time but they are more noticeable in the evening from 6pm.
It was revealed that late in the evening, they station themselves at strategic locations and monitor their targets. They could tell who is a stranger or stranded and trail them until they get to a vantage position, where they snatch their targets’ handbags, phone, necklace, wristwatch or anything, and zoom off. The victim would normally scream but because the criminals know the routes so well they disappear without a trace.
Church bus stop: Hidden haven of urchins
This bus stop is small but mighty. It is located before Agboju on Mile 2 – Badagry Expressway. There is a small bush on the right hand side of the road to Badagry axis from Mile 2 where urchins hide. If you are a stranger who does not know about their activities, once you alight from the bus at night, they would jump out from the bush, rob you and disappear into the night. The same thing happens to people who leave home early in the morning for business. However, Church bus stop is so notorious that only stubborn people fall victim to the armed thieves. You hardly know there is a bus stop there because unlike other bus stops, there are no petty businesses at Church bus stop.
Agric bus stop: Arms buried, exhumed for operations here
Findings have shown that Agric bus stop, located between Barracks and Volks bus stops along Mile 2-Badagry Expressway is one of the most dangerous bus stops in Lagos at present. It was gathered that criminal activities at the bus stop take place only on the right side of the road as one goes to Badagry from Mile 2 because it is always lonely. The criminals carry out their dastardly acts any time of the day but it is more at night and early in the morning. Sources revealed that the boys bury their arms there and exhume them for their operations. It was gathered that once there is a traffic gridlock at that point, they would rob motorists. Checks revealed that the hoodlums created most of the potholes on that portion of the expressway, to force drivers to slow down. It was also gathered that they burrowed an opening on the wall of the Ojo Military Cantonment through which they often escaped until it was blocked on the orders of the military authorities.
It was also revealed that the hoodlums sometimes, throw rims or tyres on the expressway to stop oncoming vehicles. They would immediately close in on If the driver stopped him but if he knows what is happening at the spot, he would do everything possible to manoeuvre his way and escape to safety.
Findings revealed that robberies at the spot abated during joint military patrol of the area but with the withdrawal of soldiers from the team, the ugly trend has resumed and with a new dimension. According to investigation, the gangs attack people in broad daylight. Some the people who spoke to Sunday Sun suspected that the robbers operate on information particularly about those with huge sums of money.
“Just about three weeks ago, a man was attacked at that spot but the man was very huge and stoutly built; so he struggled with them and escaped to this side with his bag that contained N4.5million. Just as people were telling the man that he was lucky to have escaped with his money, the robbers rode on their motorcycles from the Barracks bus stop and traced the man to this other side of the bus stop. When they got here, they shot into the air and people scampered for safety. In the process, they shot two Hausa men but the man still resisted them as he held their long gun. As he struggled with them, we made a distress call to the Ojo Police who responded immediately and the hoodlums escaped without the money. But the man was shot while struggling with them”, a source stated.
There was also the tale of how eight of the hoodlums rode on four motorcycles, and blocked a South-east-bound bus that was fully loaded, at the bus stop.
“They searched the bus until they saw the bag they were looking for and they left with it. That was an indication that somebody somewhere told them about the bag and its content. They took people’s phones and money in the process and this happened around 9am,” the source said.
Abulosu bus stop: Drivers collude with roughnecks here
This is a bus stop immediately after the Trade Fair complex, under the Bridge along Mile 2 Badagry – Expressway. The bad boys operate on the same right side of the road to Badagry from Mile 2, just as they do at Agric bus stop. The place is usually deserted in the evening because people don’t live around there. So, as soon as darkness sets in and early in the morning, they would unleash terror on commuters. Investigations revealed that some transporters collude with the roughnecks at Abulosu. A man who wouldn’t want his name in print narrated his personal experience.
“That day, as we approached Abule-Ado, the vehicle started behaving funny and the driver said he had a flat tyre. We asked him to drive into the fuel station before the bridge, to change the tyre and avoid keeping us stranded at the mercy of the miscreants at Abulosu, but he insisted that the vehicle could take us to Barracks where he would change the tyre. We did our best to prevail on him to see reason with us but he ignored us. But as soon as we got to Abulosu, the driver stopped and said he needed to change the tyre. Immediately he stopped, about four rough boys emerged from the bush and attacked us. We were lucky that the joint military patrol came at that point to rescue us. They ran away but that was after they had taken away most people’s handsets and money. That’s why I suspect that some drivers work with them and that our driver could be one of their informants.”
Cassidy bus stop: Students cultists incharge
Cassidy is a bus stop before Okokomaiko and also along Mile 2-Badagry Expressway. Like most other bad bus tops, the hoodlums operate at night and very early in the morning.
However, investigation revealed that most of the hoodlums at the bus stop are student cultists of the Eye confraternity. A source alleged that most of them are students from the nearby institutions who carry out the evil acts whenever they run out of cash.
Apongbon bus stop: Hotbed of one-chance buses
Apongbon is an ever-busy exit route from the Lagos Island with both heavy vehicular and human traffic as from 3pm virtually every day. This is because most businessmen and women and other workers on the Island converge there to board vehicles to different areas on the mainland.
Apart from pickpocket that is a regular feature at the bus stop especially in the evening and at night, it is also a hotbed of ‘One chance’ bus operators. Pretending to be real transporters, they would pick unsuspecting passengers from the spot and rob them of their valuables when they get to a lonely spot.
Leventis bus stop: Okada robbers once ruled
Leventis is the first bus stop as you enter the Lagos Island. There are criminal elements that attack and dispossess people of their valuables early in the morning at the bus stop.
A driver who would not want his name in print said: “Victims of Leventis bus stop criminals always run to Apongbon for safety when attacked in the early hours of the day and that is why most people would say that Apongbon is bad. It is not Apongbon; it is Leventis. They snatch people’s bags while atop motorcycles but with the recent ban on Okada in the state, the incidence of motorcycle-induced thefts around the bus stop have reduced drastically. In fact, we no longer see that. It’s only the early morning attackers that are having a swell moment.”
School bus stop: Small axes, jack knives weapons of choice
Located at School junction along Mba-Mile 2 road in Ajegunle, School bus stop is very dangerous. Hoodlums always attack people at the bus stop at night and early in the morning. They hang around the area during the day smoking marijuana and drinking gin but at night, they resort to what they know how best to do. They are always armed with small axe, jackknife, and other deadly weapons, that they freely use on ‘stubborn’ victims.