Barely a week into the lockdown order declared in Ogun, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on March 29 by the President, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), harsh realities of having to stay away from work had already begun to manifest in the household of Olusegun Ikumawoyi, a resident of Bisi Adedire Street, European Quarters, Akitan, in the Meiran area of Lagos State.
The father of two and his wife had devised means of managing their meagre resources to get through the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
They retired to bed with the only N10,000 on them that Sunday evening, hoping to face the lean period the next day.
In the dead of night, situation took a turn for the worse. The family was jolted from a deep sleep to the frightening sight of armed robbers who invaded their compound around 1am.
By the time they were fully awake, the bandits had gained entry into their apartment, robbing them of their mobile phones and the available N10,000.
“There are three buildings, including the landlord’s flat, in our compound,” Ikumawoyi said as he began to share the horrific experience.
He said, “We started hearing some strange noises around 1am. We later realised they were robbers. My wife was panicky and I told her there was nothing we could do except to remain calm and pray they don’t injure us.
“About 20 minutes later, they left one of the buildings and came to our flat. They were shouting ‘it is government that caused it o; it is not our fault o.’ I begged them to take it easy. They collected my phone, that of my wife and brother who was on a visit. They also collected the N10, 000 we had.
“They spent about 10 minutes and left. After about 30 minutes, we started hearing noises from our landlord’s apartment. We later came out and discovered that he had been injured. We thank God they didn’t kill us. They spent up to one hour in our compound.”
The landlord, Mr Bisi Adedire, bore the meanest brunt of the attack which nearly claimed his life.
Adedire, a town planner, told one of our correspondents that the hoodlums stormed his apartment in large numbers, shouting his name. He watched in dismay as the robbers hijacked the whole households.
He stated, “While they were coming in, they disarmed our security man and asked him to lead them to my apartment. Three of them entered through the fence and my dog started barking. Surprisingly, after a while, the dog stopped barking. I then heard one of the robbers say ‘you can now come in but don’t look at the dog.’ I was peeping through the window and I could see a lot of them coming in.
“They divided themselves into groups and started entering each flat. When I saw one of them holding a gun, I was panicky. They came with a pickaxe and a sledge hammer while some of them held cutlasses.
“As I wanted to escape through the exit door, I saw two of them with a gun and a cutlass approaching. I had to stay indoors because my children and wife were inside. One used the pickaxe to break the burglary at the entrance door and others came in.
“One of them said, ‘Bisi omo (son of) Adedire’ and I suspected that he knows me. I asked them what they wanted me to do. They were more than 30. My living room was full of people as if we were holding a crusade.”
The septuagenarian explained that the robbers demanded money and he led them to a drawer, where two envelopes containing N320, 000 he wanted to use for some repairs in the compound were seized.
He added, “I collected the money that weekend. They also collected six phones belonging to me, my wife and our children. They asked me to lie down and one of them suddenly used the side of his cutlass to hit my back. I shouted, but the man said I had charms.
“One of them suggested that they should strangle me or pluck out my eyes. That was when they started attacking me with cutlasses and stabbed my eye with the pickaxe. Blood was gushing out. The elderly man among them came in and stopped them having seen the living room littered with blood.”
The assailants were not done with him yet. They picked the key of his Highlander 2010 model and took it away in a style he described as “presidential.”
“I struggled to find my way to a nearby hospital. On getting outside the compound, I saw them some metres away checking my vehicle engine after it stopped working. Four of them were approaching me but I quickly took cover.
“They fixed the vehicle and it started working again. While some were in, six persons were on each side walking along the vehicle. Others were walking in the front. They were moving confidently as if it were a presidential parade,” he added.
Adedire, Lagos State Chairman, Nigeria Institute of Town Planners, lamented that the robbers operated without fear of being caught by the police while the robbery lasted for about one and a half hours, adding that 14 families residing on the premises were affected.
He said, “Some neighbours called the police but the robbers had gone before they arrived. The police came to meet me at the hospital where I was being treated. They were told that my vehicle was seen at Powerline (a neighbouring community) where the robbers also visited but before the police got there, the robbers had driven the vehicle away.
“The police promised to be patrolling the street but we have not seen them after the incident happened. It is the residents who now watch over the community at night.”
Robbers use POS to verify ATM card pins
Another victim, who is Adedire’s tenant, Adeleke Adesola, told our correspondent that the attackers after collecting his phone forced him to surrender his three Automated Teller Machine cards and the pin numbers at gunpoint.
He said, “They pointed a gun to my head and asked me to give them the pins to my Diamond, UBA and GTB ATM cards. They came with a POS and slotted in the ATM cards to verify if the pins were correct.
“After they left, I was able to reach out to Diamond Bank and UBA to block my accounts. They asked me some questions about my accounts which I answered and they blocked the accounts. The robbers transferred N31, 000 from my account.”
Another tenant, Olumide Abimbola, stated that the gangsters robbed him and his wife of two phones and N30,000, adding that they transferred the N10,000 in his bank account.
“We thank God the attack didn’t claim our lives. My wife was participating in a contributory scheme and she just collected N20, 000 the previous evening. She wanted to use part of the money for a checkup the following day.
“Apart from the N10,000 cash they collected from me, the robbers also used my phone to transfer N10,000 ‘recharge card’ from one of my bank accounts to a phone number,” Abimbola disclosed.