A father of two, Abubakar Saeed, lay on his hospital bed at 44 Army Reference Hospital Kaduna where he was receiving treatment after suspected phone snatchers cut off his right hand on 25th April 2023. The incident occurred four days after Eid al-Fitr.
Saeed, a jewelry seller, was attacked while sitting in front of his family’s residence on Musa Danbade Street in Rigasa, Igabi LGA at about 10:15pm.
According to him, he was inside the room with his wife and kids when the electricity went off and he decided to go outside to buy mosquito coil. He later sat down in front of the house to go through the Eid al-Fitr postings on his Facebook page.
“I sat there replying to comments made on my post on Facebook when someone hit me on the hand. I thought it was a stick, so I ran into the compound, only to realize that my hand has been cut off. I called my mother, telling her my hand had been cut off by thieves,” he said.
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He said he couldn’t imagine what had happened to him because his body was covered in blood before he was rushed to a private hospital from where he was transferred to 44 Army Hospital.
It was gathered that Saeed’s attackers were teenagers of about 20 years old who lived not too far away from his street but have been at large since the incident.
He said he has never met his attackers even though they lived in the same community.
Saeed’s case was among the reported cases of phone snatching within Kaduna metropolis lately.
Phone snatching has become a growing concern within the metropolis, with many residents falling victim of this crime in recent months.
The surge in phone snatching incidents has left many people feeling unsafe and vulnerable, especially when they are in public spaces.
Phone snatching is a form of theft where criminals target individuals who are using their phones in public spaces such as streets, markets, or public transportation.
The thief, mostly teenagers usually on a motorcycle, will approach the victim, and snatch the phone from him/her before speeding off.
In some cases, the thieves use violence, threatening their victims with weapons to force them to hand over their phones just like what happened to Abubakar.
Daily Trust Saturday identified communities where these youths operate to include Rigasa, Tudun Wada, Badarawa, Kawo, Malali, Sabon Tasha, Romi, and Narayi,
Others are Unguwar Rimi, Unguwar Shanu, Badiko, Angular Sanusi, Hayin Dan Mani, and Ahmadu Bello Way near Gombe Road, among others.
The resurfacing of phone snatching within the metropolis has caught many people off guard. Despite the presence of law enforcement agencies, the thieves seem to be getting bolder and more aggressive.
Some residents have reported being followed by groups of individuals on motorcycles, who they suspect were looking for an opportunity to snatch their phones.
Ismail went viral on social media after he was attacked by two teenagers with a substance believed to be acid in an attempt to snatch his phone.
The incident happened in April along Shagari Street Badarawa around 11pm. He was lucky to have protected his face when his attackers aimed at his face with the substance.
Ismail used his hand to cover his face and threw away the phone which the thieves picked up and ran away.
Daily Trust Saturday observed that his body was burnt by acid and part of his forehead was also touched.
“I was answering a call on my way home after I visited my mother. It was dark but I saw one of them on the bike while the second person was coming behind me. I suspected something fishy so I ended the call but the guy behind me raised his hand which made me think he was about to hit me but he instead sprayed the substance on me which I used my hand to protect my face,” he said.
He said after dropping the phone, they picked it up and fled.
“I thank God my face was saved,” he said.
The reasons for the rising cases of phone snatching in the metropolis are unclear but the problem has become a recurring topic among residents on social media.
Fatima Ibrahim, a resident of Tudun Wada, claimed to have witnessed an attempted phone snatching from a young boy by some youths at Unguwar Sarki bus stop last week.
According to her, the incident happened in broad daylight but the boy was lucky as the snatchers pretended as if nothing happened when they realized passers-by were staring at them.
“They (phone snatchers) were not even afraid to snatch the phone from the young boy. But when they saw us and other people, they pretended and left him alone. The whole thing was scary,” she said.
Badamasi Adamu, a resident of Danmani, also said he witnessed the snatching of a phone from a man inside a commercial tricycle ‘Keke NAPEP’ a few months ago.
“The whole thing happened like magic because the victim was inside a tricycle when the phone was snatched from him in broad daylight by a group of boys who ran away with the phone,” he said.
Some experts suggest that the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may be driving more young people to crime as a means of survival.
Others point to the proliferation of smartphones as a factor that is attracting thieves as well as neglect of parents to ensure their children acquire skills or education to keep them busy.
In response to this growing problem, the Kaduna State government has taken steps to increase security in the metropolis.
The state governor through the Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan recently announced the arrest of some of the phone snatchers.
He said Governor Nasir El-Rufai has called on the police command to ensure due diligence in the prosecution of those responsible for recent attacks and directed that the manhunt for those at large should be intensified until they are all brought to justice.
He also condoled with families that lost loved ones and wished the injured speedy recovery. The state government, through the Ministry of Justice, has an effective mechanism in place to ensure a thorough and scrupulous process.
The governor further urged members of communities such as Rigasa, Kawo, Ungwan Muazu, Badarawa, Kwaru, Rigachikun, Barnawa, Ungwan Rimi, Trikania, Nasarawa, Makera, Sabon Tasha, Narayi, Rafin Guza, Tudun Wada, and other locations, to provide the names of suspected gang members in their localities for follow-up action by security agencies.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that law enforcement agencies have been authorised to arrest and prosecute individuals involved in phone snatching.
However, some residents argue that these measures are not enough to solve the problem. They suggested that more needs to be done to address the underlying issues driving young people to crime.
This may include investing in education and job training programs that provide young people with the skills and opportunities they need to succeed in life.
Kaduna-based security expert DSP Ibrahim Garba (Rtd) said total neglect of the downtrodden, particularly their children, is responsible for the rising cases of phone snatching in the state.
According to him, parents are also giving birth to children they cannot cater for, which causes these children to roam the streets terrorizing innocent residents.
“A situation where you bring children into the world without means to cater for them is worrisome. The government has also neglected the indigent citizens despite huge budgets by LGAs, states, and the federal government.
“So, the only way to remedy the situation is to see how they can support these children, starting from their parents, and provide them with opportunities to be educated,” he said.
He lamented how the children of the poor roam the streets without jobs, education, etc. He also warned that in the future, if such youths are not supported in terms of education or skills, they will be a powder keg waiting to explode at any time.
He urged governments at all levels, including wealthy people in society, to take the issue of youth joblessness very seriously and tackle it before it is too late.
350 hoodlums, phone snatchers apprehended — Police
After the attack on Abubakar whose hand was cut off and the directive by the state government, police conducted manhunt operations across the metropolis and arrested about 350 hoodlums.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer while parading the suspects said the Command has launched a manhunt for criminals operating in black spots within Kaduna Metropolis and environs, following public outcry over the activities of the hoodlums known as “Sara Suka”.
He said the Command has conducted constant raids on their hideouts to create a crime-free society where citizens can go about their lawful business without fear of molestation or intimidation.
“As a result, 350 suspects have been arrested and various items recovered, including illicit drugs, Indian hemp, snatched GSM phones, sharp knives, scissors, cudgels, master keys, vehicles, and motorcycles.
“Some suspects have been charged to court, while others are undergoing discreet investigation. The Command has also apprehended miscreants using acid to rob people in Malali and Badarawa areas,” he said.
He further explained that the Command reaffirms its commitment to ensuring the security and safety of the people of Kaduna State and warns criminals to either repent or leave the state.
Abubakar, whose hand was cut off, and Ibrahim, who was attacked with acid, both thanked God they were still alive but prayed that their attackers be brought to justice.
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