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Port Harcourt’s many dangerous spots

Daily, residents of Port Harcourt recall horrifying accounts of how their handsets, bags and other important belongings were taken away from them by hoodlums and…

Daily, residents of Port Harcourt recall horrifying accounts of how their handsets, bags and other important belongings were taken away from them by hoodlums and criminals who have turned the under-bridge of flyovers and foot bridges to dens of crime and criminal activities.

Under the bridge of Eleme Junction interjection flyover, under bridge of Mile 1 flyover, as well as some abandoned footbridges located in traffic-prone areas of Port Harcourt have, for a very long time, posed threats and danger to residents.

The above-mentioned areas have become flashpoints of insecurity, where hoodlums and street urchins carry out their criminal activities.

On daily basis, residents are confronted with unpleasant tales of how victims were robbed at gun point while innocent girls are dragged to dark and lonely places under the bridges and raped.

Tobechi (not real name) narrated to our reporter how she was robbed under the bridge at Eleme junction interjection flyover.

Eleme intersection flyover under bridge. Pass under this flyover bridge at night and your story will be sorry. Photo by Victor Edozie

Tobechi, a petty trader at the popular oil mill market located within the precinct of the flyover, had closed for the day and was on her way home when she was confronted by two young men who collected the bag containing all her sales for the day.

“I have closed for the day because I sell fruits and other edible items at Oil mill market. I live in Oyigbo and on my way to board a vehicle to Oyigbo just under the Eleme junction interjection flyover, I was accosted by two boys who shouted at me to stop. That was around 6.30pm and there were still many people moving around the area but nobody bordered to come to my rescue. The boys asked me to hand over my bag to them. In that bag, I had about N30,000 being the proceeds from my sales that day. I said, ‘hand over my bag for what’? Before I would say Jack, one of them brought out a gun and pointed it at my face. I had no option than to hand over the bag to them and immediately they zoomed off. My shout for help did not draw the attention of passers-by who watched these criminals disappear into thin air,” she said.

She said after the incident, few sympathizers advised her to just go home because what happened to her has become a reoccurring decimal in the area.

Chukwudi Jonathan, a resident of Port Harcourt, will not forget in a haste how his I-Phone was snatched from him under bridge at the Eleme interjection flyover.

“I was standing beside the road around 6pm waiting to board a vehicle because I did not use my vehicle that day. As I was waiting, a call came in, and as I was answering it, one boy appeared from no where and dragged my phone from my hand. I struggled with him until he brought out a short gun and threatened to shoot me if I refused to hand over the handset to him. He took my phone and ran under bridge. That was how I lost my phone. I have been hearing stories about how people were robbed under the flyover but I did not believe those stories until I became a victim,” he said.

He called on the security agencies to set up a patrol monitoring team around the flyover, especially under the bridges to check the activities of criminals in the area.

The nefarious activities of these hoodlums who operate under the flyover is raising serious concerns among the residents.

Abandoned foot bridge crossing at the popular First Bank bus stop, Rumumasi. It has become a hiding place for criminals. Photo by Victor Edozie

Another resident of Port Harcourt who does not want his name on print told our reporter how her handset was dragged from her while inside a vehicle.

“I was inside a commercial vehicle on my way to Aba. I sat by the window and was making a call around 5.30pm. As we approached the end of the flyover, we were held up by a traffic gridlock. A boy came close to the vehicle, but I did not suspect any foul play until he snatched my phone from the window and ran under the bridge. I shouted but he was far gone with my phone. Other passengers in the vehicle blamed me. They said I should not have made the call while the vehicle was in a gridlock because that is when the criminals target their victims,” she stated.

A female student of the University of Port-Harcourt escaped death by the whisker when she was shot by a gang of criminals hiding under the AGIP flyover. The victim was shot for resisting them from raping her.

Narrating her ordeal to journalists, Jeremiah Blessing, a 200-level student of the University of Port Harcourt, said she was shot by a three-man robbery gang in front of a public toilet directly opposite the AGIP flyover and close to the Rivers State College of Health Science and Management Technology.

She disclosed that after they robbed her of her valuables, the gunmen started dragging her towards the toilet to rape her. Her resistance led to her being shot by the criminals.

She explained that the school security and the President of Student Union Government of the College of Health located opposite the flyover came to her aid and called in the Police from Sani Abacha Divisional Police headquarters who took her to the hospital.

Abandoned foot bridge crossing at the popular first bank bus stop, Rumumasi. It has become a hiding place for criminals. Photo by Victor Edozie

A resident of the area who witnessed what happened agreed that the flyover has become a death trap in the night, saying that criminals and street urchins hide under the flyover to carry out their criminal activities.

The resident who simply gave his name as Michael, said “Terrible things happen under the flyover, especially at night. The moment it’s getting dark, one has to be very careful around the flyover. Most of the criminals who operate along Ikwerre road hide under the flyover to perpetrate their criminal activities. They rob, rape and dispossess victims of their personal belongings.”

He called for more security surveillance around the flyovers to protect the lives and properties of citizens.

The Mile 1 flyover is the most notorious of all the flyovers in the state.

A resident of Diobu Port Harcourt, who simply gave his name as Ogolo, said he was halted under the flyover on his way back home by two armed youths who asked him to turn in his phones and a bag containing some amount of money.

“I was coming back from work at about 7pm and was accosted by two young boys who confronted me with a short gun and collected my handsets and a bag containing the sum of N50000. I wanted to resist them but couldn’t because they had a gun. That place is dangerous, especially in the night and early in the morning. There’s the possibility of one being attacked at those times,” he said.

A crowded motor. park under the Eleme intersection flyover where street urchins, weed smokers mix up with passers-by and passengers. Photo by Victor Edozie

Another resident, Mary Onyinyechi, narrated how she was robbed under the flyover.

“I left my house very early in the morning to enable me pick a vehicle to Bayelsa. It was around 5.30am in the morning. As I approached the flyover, I was confronted by three boys who snatched my bag and ran away with it. I shouted for help but nobody come to my rescue. The bag contained money meant for my school fees and other personal items,” she said.

Johnson Uwa’s bravery paid off as he confronted two boys at the flyover who wanted to rob him.

“I was going towards the flyover when two boys started running after me. I suspected their movement and decided to move faster. They ran after me but I decided to challenge them. One of them brought out a knife and wanted to stab me. I hit him hard on his tummy and he fell. The knife also fell off his hand so I picked it. The other one ran away while I pinned the one that wanted to stab me to the ground. I beat him mercilessly and left him unconscious,” he said.

Also, some of the uncompleted buildings at the School-to-Land Housing Estate at Iriebe in Obio Akpor Local Government Area have also become a hideout for hoodlums.

Residents have called on the state government to either complete the estate or sell it off.

A resident of the estate, Dave Akpan, said “If you look around, you will observe so many uncompleted buildings in the estate. These buildings have become death trap to residents. At night, you see hoodlums inside the buildings smoking weed and all manner of hard drugs. They attack residents going back to their respective homes and dispossess them of their personal belongings,” he said.

The abandoned foot bridges located in strategic points in Port Harcourt have also become hideout for hoodlums and street urchins. Some ignorant residents who are not aware of the activities of these criminals have been robbed at night.

An uncompleted building at Oyigbo where street urchins stay and carry out criminal activities. Photo by Victor Edozie

At Oyigbo, most uncompleted buildings have been taken over by criminals. A resident who pleaded anonymity said she was robbed of her handset recently opposite the uncompleted building.

“I was going to church one early morning because our morning service starts by 6am. As I approached that particular building, I was perceiving the smell of weed. One of the boys came out and held me by my collar. They collected my bag containing my bible and handset and ran away. I went to church and reported the matter to the pastor who mobilised some youths of the church. Before they could get to the place, the boys had run away. That was how I lost my handset and bible,” she said.

The victim said she stopped attending morning service after the incident.

The Resident Pastor of the Pentecostal church the victim attended told our reporter that the church management decided to shift their morning service from 5 to 6am.

“Many of our members have been attacked on their way to the church. So, we took that decision to save them from being harmed by those criminals who hide in uncompleted buildings to carry out their nefarious activities,” the pastor stated.

Rivers State Police Command said that it has deployed security patrol in strategic areas to check the activities of criminals who hide under public infrastructures to attack innocent residents.

Rivers Police Command Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni, said police tactical units are all over the place to protect lives and properties.