Traffic robberies are spiking in Lagos and we just cannot continue like this.
Last Monday, the car in front of mine in slow moving traffic, was getting smashed and robbed as I sh** and peed in my pants all at once.
And this traffic robbery was happening in broad daylight as police officers looked on from atop a dirty bridge.
My windshield has been hit hard by menacing robbers in Lagos traffic twice: Once on Carter Bridge at about 7pm and in Oshodi as I drove to work around 6am.
On both occasions, quick thinking saved me from the windshield getting smashed in my face and everything in the car being taken away from me.
I had to swerve to the middle lanes on both occasions at the risk of running into other cars and causing an accident.
Every other day these days, social media users relay tales of how they are getting robbed and left badly injured on Eko Bridge or Maryland, or on Lekki-Epe expressway or in Ikoyi, or on Oshodi-Gbagada expressway in particular; and elsewhere across this metropolis heaving with gun-toting police officers and police stations everywhere you turn.
When Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was asked about how he’s tackling this menace in a recent interview, he first passed the buck to residents.
“All of us need to speak up. See something, say something. It’s really about everybody understanding who is in your neighborhood. Who are the strangers that you are seeing around you. Simple security tips.
“You are in traffic, roll up your glass if you have to. Make sure you are not by the street side holding up a phone and talking…you don’t enter a strange vehicle…you don’t do that!,” the governor lectured in that irritating, fatherly cadence.
However, the problem of escalating insecurity in Lagos goes beyond everyone being security conscious and winding up their glasses in gridlock and bedlam. There’s just so much you can do when you are confronted by dirty-looking, scruffy and stinking miscreants.
To the best of my knowledge, every motorist who has been robbed in traffic in recent times had their car windows wound up.
The elephant in the room is that there is a complete breakdown of law and order in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital and most populous city.
And it is an indictment on the governor and his security team that Lagos is becoming increasingly unsafe for everyone by the day.
I have spoken to some police officers and some chieftains of the governing APC political party that calls the shots in Lagos, about the rising rate of crime in this city we all love to hate, and what they tell me can be summarised thus:
“Shebi you people said you don’t want SARS again? You said #EndSARS shey? Oya, deal with the rob bers yourself nau!! Una think say una get sense.”
Within the rank and file of the police in Nigeria and the upper echelon of government these days, the feeling you get is that citizens have been abandoned to their fates and left at the mercy of rampaging car jackers and robbers, because young people dared to demand for the scrapping of a notorious police unit that had become famous for extra-judicial killings, profiling and extortion, last October.
However, we cannot continue like this. The police need to be motivated and encouraged to do the jobs they are paid to do. They need to fight crime and keep Lagosians safe because that is what they signed up for.
On his part, the governor should ensure that notorious spots like Eko bridge, Oshodi and Ikorodu Road are policed round-the-clock and rid of criminals.
Sanwo-Olu can also ensure that all the major roads in Lagos are lit up at night time. There are so many dead street lamps and dark spots in this city at the moment. It makes policing at night time doubly difficult for law enforcement personnel.
At least two police officers have told me this much.
The governor can also ensure that traffic gridlock in Lagos at all times–rush hour inclusive–is reduced to the barest minimum.
Traffic robbers have become a thing in Lagos because we spend more than half our lives sitting on the roads of this goddamn city. If cars are moving at top pelt, no area boy or miscreant would dare jump in front of them to rob.
While I agree with the governor that security is ideally everyone’s business and that we all have to be security conscious, it is trite to note that the primary purpose of government is the security and welfare of the people.
At the moment, the governor appears to be failing at this most important job of securing his people. He appears to be abdicating his primary responsibility. And that is saying something.
*Pulse Editor’s Opinion is the viewpoint of an Editor at Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the Organisation Pulse.