The spate of robbery incidents seems to be on the rise in Ogun State, with the recent experience of the general manager of a car company in Lagos, Mr. Lanre Bammeke.
His grey Toyota Avensis car, with registration number LL 969 EKY, was snatched at gunpoint by robbers dressed in military camouflage. While recounting their ordeal to Saturday PUNCH, Bammeke said they were also stripped naked and left in the bush.
On Sunday, June 2, 2013, the company manager and his wife, Fatima, left home for the wake-keep of a family friend at Lasada area of Ogun State, but the couple did not reach their destination. Along Atan/Agbara Road, some ‘soldiers’ riding in a rickety brown car overtook the couple’s vehicle and ordered them to stop or risk being killed.
He said, “It was a bad portion of the road where every driver would have to slow down. They jumped out of their vehicle, pointed their guns at me and ordered me to stop and get down the vehicle. They were six in number and four of them were in military camouflage. They said they would shoot and waste me if I didn’t come down, so I obeyed them since I didn’t know what I had done.
“Then, they pushed me to the back of my car and the two that were not in uniform sat on me and rested their backs like nothing was going on. As for my wife, they pushed her to the front passenger’s side and forced her to occupy the leg room. One of them sat in front, bent her head down and put his legs on her so that no one would know she was there.”
By his estimate, Bammeke said they must have been driven around for about an hour before arriving at an unknown place, where they were made to trek further into a thick bush. In the bush, Bammeke said he and his wife were stripped naked and abandoned.
He said, “We couldn’t see anything so we didn’t know where we were being driven to. But during the ride, they were asking if we had a tracker or any form of security in the vehicle. When we said ‘no’, they threatened to shoot and kill us if the vehicle stopped along the way. They said ‘we will kill you wherever the vehicle stops’. Even when my wife was praying, one of them asked her to keep quiet, that they had already fortified themselves with juju.
“After parking, they marched us further about 200 metres into the bush. Their own car did not follow and it was only four of them that came in my car that were there. When we got to a thick part of the bush, they stripped us naked and ordered us to lie down. My wife was left with only her panties and her bra was used to tie my hands behind my back. They went with everything, including our clothes.”
He said the hoodlums threatened to kill them right there in the bush. He said they also vowed that their bodies would never be found.
“At that point, my soul was out of my body spiritually and I was looking at my body and my wife down there. Even after they left, fear gripped us so we stayed there for sometime. I realised that what was happening to us could have been what many people declared missing today might have gone through,” he said.
Bammeke added that they might have even slept off before realising that the robbers had probably left them alone. At a point when there was silence all around them, he said his wife loosened the bra used to tie her hands and then freed him.
They then found their way out of the place, naked. Trudging along unclad, Bammeke said they chanced upon some villagers, who fled.
The company executive said, “It was already dark and we didn’t hear any voices again, so my wife untied me and we started looking for footpaths. Some okada riders (commercial motorcyclists) who saw us wanted to turn back and speed off, but I quickly shouted and begged them to assist by getting us to the nearest police station.
“One of the okada riders took us to Atan Police Station, where we were given clothes and put in a chartered cab to Agbara Police Station that night. The police really tried for us because they still gave us money to get transport home. Till now, each time my wife thinks about the experience, she shivers. As for me, I have had a hard time taking any food. It was as if my throat was blocked.”
Investigation shows that the Bammekes’ experience may have become a new trend of snatching vehicles in parts of Ogun State. For instance, a source at Atan Police Station said that another couple suffered the same sad experience three days after the Bammekes’ ordeal.
The Bammekes are yet to find their car but the police source gave the assurance that efforts were ongoing to recover the vehicle.
“We are trying our best to recover the stolen vehicle,” the source said.
Also, an okada rider in the area told Saturday PUNCH that the bush where he sighted the couple is located along Egodo Road. He confirmed that the area had become notorious for robbery incidents.
He said, “My brother was also robbed around there recently, but he was not stripped naked. Although, they also collected everything he had on him and drove him to the bush.”
The company executive told Saturday PUNCH that he was yet to get over the incident, even after two weeks.
He said, “I suspect that they were not military men; they were only criminals in military uniform. But each time I think about it, I feel cheated. That night, I took sleeping pills, but I still couldn’t sleep. During the ordeal, they even asked us to pray for them, which we did because we didn’t have a choice. “Just the other night, my wife woke up from sleep and started shouting that she heard a voice telling her to wake up because armed robbers were around.”
The Ogun State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi, in a text message to Saturday PUNCH, described the case as “strange”, saying he was not aware of it.
“However, we will look into it and act accordingly; we will fine tune a way forward,” he said.
Read more: Punch Newspapers