Scores of commuters and motorists had raw deals at the hands of armed bandits suspected to be of Fulani extraction on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway yesterday afternoon. Many of them lost valuables and sustained injuries in two coordinated attacks by the robbers on the highway.
The daylight attacks took place at two spots before and after the old Ogere toll plaza and they involved the robbers sneaking out of the surrounding bushes to take advantage of the bad portions of the road to rob the victims.
The spokesman of the Ogun State Police Command, Abimbola Oyeyemi, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), who confirmed that some of the bandits were indeed Fulani, told The Guardian that one of them was eventually killed during an exchange of gunfire with the police.
About 20 robbers with blackened faces, who betrayed their identities by their accent while asking their victims to cooperate with them by surrendering their valuables, carried out the attacks.
A reporter of The Guardian who was a victim of the robbery said the bandits first laid ambush just before Ode-Remo intersection and had succeeded in robbing commuters in about six buses, mainly women suspected to be Lagos-bound traders, of their cash and other valuables.
When other Lagos-bound vehicles got a hint of the robbery, several of them, including about 20 articulated vehicles that were said to be prime targets of the robbers because of the likelihood of cash on them, parked along the route waiting for the road to clear.
A team of armed mobile policemen in a Hilux van with registration number PF 943 SPY that arrived at the scene however cleared the road leading other vehicles and shooting into the air to drive the bandits away.
Many of the victims of the first set of bandits were seen mourning their losses while the women among them rolled on a ground littered with empty bags and wallets but nobody, even the policemen, had the courage to stop and help them to safety as the robbers were seen escaping into the bush.
The bandits were to regroup about 20 kilometers ahead, just after Ogere. Brandishing guns, machetes and knives, the bandits appeared from the bush and stood in the middle of the road and ordered the confused drivers and their passengers to disembark and surrender their possessions.
Many of the commercial bus drivers while attempting to reverse, to escape from the robbery scene hit other vehicles, creating a jam and blocking their escape. One after the other, the passengers, including The Guardian reporter, made a dash for their lives.
Those who could not escape were robbed and many of them were dealt machete blows for not having enough cash. The robbers smashed the windscreens of three buses, a Toyota Venza and a Toyota Corolla, after they had been ransacked stealing handsets, computer laptops and other valuables left by the fleeing owners.
Moments later, a team of policemen arrived at the scene and according to Oyeyemi, they were able to kill one of the robbers during a gunbattle.
The police spokesman said the police were still combing the bushes for the escaped robbers as at 6: 00 p.m. yesterday.