Another tragedy was averted in the nation’s movie industry in the early hours of Monday, when ace Yoruba actor, Murphy Afolabi, escaped death by whiskers.
But for God, the respected Osun State-born actor would have been felled by the bullets fired by some armed robbers who had reportedly trailed him from a night club to his hotel suite at SP Continental Hotel in Ebute Metta, Lagos.
It was gathered that the armed robbery attack, which lasted 30 minutes, held the entire residents of Park Road, Ebute Metta (West), Lagos State, shell-shocked, as two security men attached to the hotel were killed.
Another victim, simply identified as Wale, sustained bullet wounds in his leg and wrist. He is at the moment receiving treatment in a hospital in Lagos.
According to an eye-witness recalled, “It happened about 4:15 a.m. I was outside my home washing my bus when Murphy Afolabi came into the hotel in his car, a few minutes later, a 2013 Range Rover sport car pulled up beside his car. Then, four young men, who were holding guns, came out of the car and then pounced on him. They ordered him out of his car and started slapping him on the face.
Immediately they recognised him, they asked him to lie flat on his chest. Oluwo, a guard who was preparing to close for the day, was shot dead. They killed him because he had removed the protective charm on him. Another guard, who was returning with his monkey from an adjoining street, on hearing gun shots, rushed down to the scene, and was shot dead too.
Murphy and his boys were on the floor while the robbers watched over them. One of his boys, on hearing gunshots, ran into a swampy canal to escape, and they started shooting at him. He was, however, fortunate to escape. In the process, the bullet perforated Murphy’s car.
They collected the sum of N150, 000 from one his boys who was with him in the car, a laptop, phones and other accessories. That the armed robbers were able to identify Murphy saved him from being killed.”
Like a scene from a movie, the dashing actor was said to have been ordered by the robbers to switch on his car stereo, while they offered him bottle of an alcoholic drink. “ He, however, declined on the grounds that he doesn’t drink.
They also requested that he dance for them, which he grudgingly did. He danced to the music blaring from his car stereo until the armed robbers were ready to go. They also requested he made a movie on his experience with them to be titled “Se rere”. They threatened him that failure to comply would attract more dangerous attacks,” he said.
In his own account, another eye-witness on Niger Street, who simply gave his name as Bomboy, said, “ As the robbers were done with their victims at SP Continental, they drove through Patience Street. But it was clear that they were strangers to the street. These were young men of less than 25 years of age. They stopped to ask for direction from an old woman. It was almost 5.00a.m. when they got to the T-Junction at Thomas Street.
I was defecating nearby, with Wale standing at the side of the road- he was waiting for me. The reckless driving of the armed robbers attracted comments from Wale. He said, “ E wo le yin(Who are these people?). I don’t know what aggravated them about his comment. So, they confidently parked the car in the middle of the road. One of them alighted from the car, walked towards Wale and pulled out a gun. Immediately, Wale attempted to run away, but he could not go too far as he was shot in the leg.
“Another voice from the car ordered that Wale be shot in the head. But the second shot only hit him in the wrist. This time, I was frozen with fear. It was like a movie, and I could not come out of my hideout. They thought Wale was dead, so they left. We later rushed him to hospital for treatment.
The robbery incident has, however, generated reactions from residents within the environs, as they complained of porous security.
Bolaji Omoaje, a barber within Ebute Metta said, “The rate at which cases of armed robbery attacks occur in Ebute Metta now is alarming and the sophistication of the weapons used by armed robbers is another cause concern.
Security is the collective responsibility of everybody. This is why we constituted a vigilance group but with the killing of two security men mounting guard at the hotel, it is obvious that the issue at hand is far beyond what vigilante members could handle.
There is an urgent need for the Police to beef up security, particularly in Ebute- Metta, where armed robbers now patronise at will and go scot- free.”
Efforts to get the side of the Manager of SP Continental Hotel and Murphy Afolabi, were unsuccessful.
Jubreel, a staff of the hotel, declined comment and said the manager was sleeping and would not want to speak with anyone for now.
A close source at the hotel told Daily Newswatch that after the robbery incident, Murphy was seen at the reception with the chairman of the hotel, Seun, alias Pawpaw, and some detectives from Iponri Police Station that were investigating the attack. The Police later took away the corpses of the security men killed by the robbers.
The chairman had also pledged his support to the families of the deceased, as he said he would give the two families some undisclosed amounts to assuage their pains.”