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Victims recount ordeal in the hands of ‘one chance’ gangs

The actors use cars and taxis. Those who fall prey to these hoodlums told Weekly Trust that ‘one chance’ is a more advanced way of…

The actors use cars and taxis. Those who fall prey to these hoodlums told Weekly Trust that ‘one chance’ is a more advanced way of robbery in the FCT. They said perpetrators of the acts use either commercial or private cars to canvass for passengers along roads in the FCT and the satellite towns.

“You would never suspect them until it is far too late,” said a source.

The source disclosed that if the victim attempts to break loose from their captors, they open their door and push him onto the highway.  ‘One Chance’ is very common with commercial drivers plying Berger, Area One, Lugbe, Karimo, Mabushi and less busy routes in the FCT.  

In November 2008, one Gabriel Ayo Bola an applicant fell victim to the ‘one chance’ in Abuja while on a visit to his elder brother in Suleja.

“At about 7.30 pm, I boarded a ten-passenger bus at Berger and the conductor said they were going to Suleja. The driver and conductor were busy quarrelling over frivolities.

 “I occupied the middle seat in front of the bus with my bag on my lap while another man sat close to the door,” Ayo explained.

According to Ayo, the argument made the driver and conductor pay less attention and moved several kilometres without picking any passenger.

“When we got to Gwarinpa, the driver said the bag I was carrying on my lap was inconveniencing him therefore I should give it to his conductor to put in the boot. I adjusted the bag, but the driver insisted that I should do what he said. To my surprise, one after the other, all the passengers supported him and the man in front of the vehicle snatched the bag while raining insults on me.

“You are very stubborn and disrespectful. Don’t you have elders at home? Tell all of us the contents of the bag that you hold tightly as if it contains your life.

‘‘Anywhere we stop, get down quietly and walk away as if nothing has happened and never look at our vehicle’, the man ordered me.’’       

 Ayo said the man equally told him that he would never set eyes on the bag again and threatened to push him onto the highway while the bus was moving but he pleaded and pledged to cooperate.

“When the vehicle stopped in a dark area along Kubwa, I got out and wanted to beg for a bunch of key to my rooms, which was in one of the pockets of the bag but the man landed a heavy blow to my neck and I fell down near the front tires. When I recovered some of my strength and stood to my feet, they had gone.   

“During the argument that claimed my bag, the man in front had searched my pockets and removed my phones and N9,900 from the side of my bag.”

In the light of his experience, Ayo is advising residents of the FCT to always be alert during rush hours and should not enter vehicles where all the passengers are men.

In a similar case, another victim who gave his name as Dennis said on a Friday evening he went to watch football in his friend’s house in Wuse Zone 5 and ended up sleeping there till  6 a.m the  next day. He took a private Nissan Sunny from Berger to his house in Lugbe.

Dennis said the front was occupied and there were two men and a lady in the back seat. “The lady said she would get down at Finance Junction and would prefer sitting close to the door. The driver moved too slowly and we had not gone far when he asked for our fares. I dipped my hand into my pocket and gave him N200 but he said the denomination was too high in the morning. He said what I did was an indication of bad luck that was likely to come his way throughout the day. He said if I had N50 he was ready to accept that as my fare and nothing more. I told him the truth that all I had was a N1,000 denomination and he said he was going nowhere again. I later realized they were ‘one chance’ operators when he ordered the others to search my pockets and bring out the contents. I became furious when they removed N5,000 from my pockets. One of them slapped and ordered me to follow the lady and both of us should disappear. I thought the lady would run away but, surprisingly, she gave me a second slap and returned to the vehicle and they all drove fast towards Area 1,” he narrated.

On July 16, 2008, a civil servant who gave his name as Abu Martins said he left his office near the ABC Transport office around 9 pm and went to Berger bus stop to look for a taxi. He said “there was no taxi going from ABC to Bwari where I live so I was planning to go to Berger. Suddenly, a red Toyota car came and I shouted Bwari. He stopped few metres away from me. There were two passengers in front with the driver and three passengers in the back seat. There was therefore only one space left in the vehicle and I occupied it. About two metres away, I sensed that things were not right. But I could not identify the problem. Before the overhead bridge at Mabushi, the driver diverted to the right towards Wuse and I was wondering what a vehicle going to Bwari had to do along Wuse. Suddenly, the man sitting on my left side extended his hand and pinned down the lock knob and locked the door.  They all shouted at the same time that they were armed robbers. I immediately realised they were all stinking of alcohol. They forced my head down and told me that I should not attempt to look at their faces.’’

Abu said the suspects searched his pockets and removed his phone and the little money he had and told him that if they discovered he was a policeman or member of any of the armed forces that was his end.

“They brought out my ID card which showed them that I work in a media house. They returned my ID card to me and dropped me when they got to Wuse market that night. As I went down, I lamented how I would get to Bwari that night and when they heard me, one shouted that I should check my pocket.

“As they drove away, I searched my pockets and discovered they had returned N150 out of N350 they got from me. I trekked to Berger and took el-Rufai bus to Bwari. I did not report to the police. But when I told my colleagues in the office, some of them related similar experiences to mine.”  

In October, 2009, one Jibrin a cartoonist working at Utako District landed in the hands of ‘one chance’. Jibrin said he closed by 8 am and went to Jabi where he took a Toyota Cricket of Abuja taxi colour going to Deidei junction. The driver and a man occupied the front while he was in the back seat with two women he met there.

“When I wanted to join the man in the front seat, the driver told me the front door was faulty so I joined two women occupying the back seat. When we got to Karimo last bus stop, there was no space to park. The driver gathered more speed and when I asked him why he was still speeding and not making attempt to stop, he replied that there was no space. He later stopped at a furniture village where everywhere was dark and quiet and asked me to alight from the vehicle. He asked for my laptop but I tried to resist. They all came out of the vehicle and approached me. I then noticed that the others including the ladies were members of the gang and were coming to attack me to collect the laptop forcefully. The driver came and collected the bag. He removed my COMPAQ PRESARIO laptop and the adaptor and retuned the bag to me.

“I waited for another vehicle to pursue them but the one I got had an old man as driver so I gave up the pursuit and reported the matter at Karimo Police Station next day. The police gave me a phone number that anywhere I identify the driver, I should call them. But since then I have never seen the driver ’,’he said.

“I had not used the laptop for three months when it was stolen,” said the cartoonist.

In view of the disturbing trend, victims advise the public that they should avoid vehicles that are not of Abuja colour. Second, don’t always be the last to enter a vehicle otherwise you would occupy a ‘one chance’ seat unless if it is a very busy bus stop where you witnessed people rushing in for seats. Third, make sure others and yourself entered at the same time.

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