Armed robbers in some parts of Lagos State now disguise as beggars to rob their victims of valuables.
PUNCH Metro learnt that they usually pretend to be beggars and target mostly lone occupants of posh cars and dispossess them of their valuable items such as laptops, phones and money.
The hoodlums, it was gathered, always arm themselves with dangerous weapons such as knives and shotguns (stuck in their dresses).
The criminals, who usually start their operations between 5pm and 9pm, always capitalise on gridlock.
It was also learnt that some of them had perfected the art of developing a deformity to deceive their prey and in the process rob them.
Areas where their activities are predominant in the metropolis are Mile Two Bridge; Coconut and Apapa, all on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
Mr. Lucky Uduikhue, a managing director of an information and computer technology firm, recounted his ordeal in the hands of the beggars turned armed robbers.
Uduikhue said he was so unfortunate in September (last month) that he was robbed three times in the area.
He said this had happened to many motorists on that route, stressing that the usual demand of the robbers at gunpoint was, ‘I need N5, 000. If you respect yourself, bring the money. They will point gun at you.’
He said anyone who failed to cooperate with them would have his car vandalised and some of the hoodlums might physically attack their target if he failed to cooperate with them.
He said, “For many months now, motorists who drive through Mile 2 lose valuable items to robbers. As from 5pm, they have become kings of the road. Funny, they pretend as people begging for money but they end up robbing motorists of their valuables.
“If one fails to give them money, they would break one’s side screen and take whatever they lay their hands on and flee.
“This is a daily occurrence starting from Otor Wharf to Mile 2 Bridge up to Mile 2/Oshodi junction. Their target is always on big money, phones and laptops and they focus on big cars and vehicles whose drivers are alone. I have been a victim several times.
“I have reported several times to the policemen on duty at the Mile 2 bridge and have also called 112 police emergency number for the same complaint with both the police and the receiver of the police emergency number promising to take urgent action, yet nothing seems to have been done as the hoodlums are still operating uncaught and unhindered.”
Also, another motorist, Jonah Okorie, was a victim of the robbers.
Okorie told PUNCH Metro that he was attacked in a similar manner early this year.
He said he was outraged that during the time he was being robbed, some policemen were busy arresting okada riders without minding what was happening to him.
Yet, another motorist, who described herself as Blessing, said she was dispossessed of her laptop, BlackBerry and telephone sets.
Blessing said, “I can never forget that fateful day. It was early October. I was going to Apapa. At Mile 2, there was a traffic jam. One man, dressed like a beggar came and begged me for money.
“I told him I did not have. I thought he understood me. Before I could move further, he brought a hammer and hit my side door. In the process, he made away with my laptops and other valuables. In fact, my entire day was disorganised because I lost a lot of data with the laptop.”
Spokesperson for Lagos State Police Command, Ngozi Braide, told our correspondent on the phone on Monday that the police had not received such complaints.
“We are not aware of that. Find out if the victims actually reported to the police and the station such complaints were lodged. All the same, the information is noted,” she said.