Thursday, May 6

Hoodlums Take Over LASU Axis, Attack & Rob Students At Will

Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos, axis particularly areas along Lagos-Badagry Expressway (close to Iyana-Iba market) Okokomaiko (PPL) area, and the university gate on LASU-Igando road, are now a hotbed of violent crimes.

Clutching dangerous weapons such as guns and knives, hoodlums prey on unwitting passers-by in these areas—many of whom are students of the university, robbing them of money, belongings, and in some cases, inflicting bodily harm. An entrepreneur and 300-level student of Biology Education, Rukayat Balogun, suffered brutality at the hands of the criminal elements.

On June 24, 2019, Rukayat left her hostel at Idirogbo for CMS at about 5:30am to beat the rush hour. She planned to buy some goods for her customers being a retailer of male and female underwear. She was with her smartphone and N70,000. As she trotted phone-in-hand along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, opposite the university road, she felt a sharp pang on her left hand which she later found suffered a deep cut. Her attacker held an “iron object” to scare her.

Rukayat said her assailant tried to drag the smartphone from her wounded hand but wasn’t successful, adding that at that point she screamed for attention, forcing the robber to flee. A motorcyclist offered to take Rukayat to a hospital, but she didn’t get help from the first 3 hospitals they visited. She was eventually treated at a medical centre at 15 Olowo Tabutabu Street, Agric, Ojo. Rukayat said a few days later she was accompanied by members of the school’s student union to make a statement at Ojo Police Station. She appealed to the government to curb criminality in the areas.

Another 200-level student from Faculty of Arts, Joyce (not real name), had a different encounter which left her worried for the few seconds she was stopped by a stranger. On a certain Sunday last year before the lockdown, she and two of her friends were walking down to Iyana-Iba market to buy some groceries when a strange man accosted them.

Joyce said the man accused her of flaunting the colour of his confraternity, saying “You think say we wan toast you, I just wan tell you say na our colour you dey fly.” Joyce told Sunday PUNCH that her shirt was in fact multi-coloured. “I wore light blue mixed with grey and white that day,” she said. Joyce added that as two other young men approached them they ran away shouting. Luckily, they escaped unmolested. Joyce said she has avoided visiting Iyana-Iba market during evenings since the incident.

Besides, a 200-level student of Dept of Physics Identified only as Ayomide was not so lucky as he left school last week to spend the Easter with his parents at Agbowa. On Good Friday, Ayomide said he left his hostel by 6am so he could beat traffic. As he trekked past the university’s walls along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, 4 cutlass-wielding men emerged from the overgrown bush by the roadside.

The assailants inflicted machete cuts on Ayomide, leaving him with a wounded head and bodily harm. Ayomide managed to escape, scrambling towards the school gate wearing a cloak of his own blood. He explained his encounter with the deadly louts to the Marshalls (LASU’s security outfit) he found at the school’s gate. But despite pleas by the bystanders, the Marshalls refused to accost the robbers whom Ayomide believed still loitered at the crime scene.

According to Ayomide, his attackers robbed him of his two phones—an iPhone XR bought in March, 2021, for N175, 000, and Huawei Y6 (2019). Ayomide added that the hoodlums took away his new clothes worth N50, 000. Ayomide received treatment later that morning at the university’s clinic. He stated that he had been depressed and experienced nightmares about the incident since Friday.

Cassidy hostel Okokomaiko, accomodating a 300-level student from Faculty of Arts, Abdulazeez Oladele, was burgled when he was a freshman, losing his phone and laptop. In 200 level last year, as he returned to hostel from lectures on a Thursday evening, he and his roommates were attacked around a new generation bank branch at Cassidy, which is near the university. His roommates managed to escape but he wasn’t lucky. The hoodlums took away his phone and bag.

Abdulazeez didn’t report the incident. He insisted that “the school isn’t doing enough,” adding that, “students are even being robbed at PPL which is close to school, and even at Aiyepe Gate.” He urged the university authorities to work with the state government to ensure enough hostels on campus and to increase police presence around student-populated areas.

MORE CHILLING TALES
It was a frightening moment for a 300-level student from Faculty of Education, Habeebah Ogboye, and her friend, AY, also a LASU student, when thugs confronted them upon their return to Lagos from an excursion in Osun State on March 14, 2021.

They arrived Lagos some minutes after 10pm and were headed for Village, a bus-stop away from the university’s gate along LASU-Igando road. A portion of land lying between Village bus-stop and LASU’s gate at Igando road is often deserted. The driver of a yellow bus, commonly called Danfo, inadvertently drove both Habeebah and her friend past their bus-stop, and refused to reverse the vehicle. Both ladies had to walk to the Village bus-stop. Midway into the risky commute, two men sprang out of the surrounding greenery, and Habeebah said one of them held a dagger.

According to Habeebah, her Techno phone was collected by the attacker, and it was at this point that she feigned consciousness. This made the assailant abandon her for her friend, during which Habeebah fled the scene. The lout gave her a hot chase but soon stopped as Habeebah neared the bus-stop.

Habeebah told our correspondent that while running she accidentally dropped her second phone which she uses for bank transactions. AY who joined her at the bus-stop some minutes later told her the louts fled after the occupant of a vehicle parked nearby noticed the scuffle and turned on his car’s headlights and blared the horn. AY sustained mild injuries as one of the attackers wound a rope tightly around her neck.

By 7am next day, Habeebah claimed N70, 000 had been withdrawn from her bank account. She said it was unclear if her assailants found her lost phone or if it was picked by a passer-by. As she sat in a public bus on Tuesday March 17, returning from the bank where she went to request her bank account to be blocked, she noticed a dead body on same spot she was robbed the previous day. She opined the deceased was likely a victim of robbery, appealing to government to install street lights in the areas from the university gate at Igando road to First Gate bus-stop.

It was a bitter experience on 3 January 2021 for a 100-level student of Music identified only as Idowu, who was robbed around 7pm along the university gate while returning to school from home in company with some friends. According to Idowu, the robbers flashed a gun and several knives to cow them into submission. He said some girls observed the robbery and ran to inform the Marshalls at the varsity’s gate. Idowu stated that the Marshall didn’t respond, explaining they weren’t mandated to interfere with off-campus matters.

Sunday PUNCH learnt Idowu and his friends were robbed of their phones, bags, and clothes. He, however, stated that streetlights would help deter criminals, as areas around the university’s walls at Iyana-Iba become dark after sunset.

For Sulton Abdullahi, a 100-level student from Faculty of Social Sciences, he was robbed and stabbed in the hand with a dagger on 15 November 2020 along LASU Badagry Expressway, about 6:45 am. That day, he was returning to his hostel from a night-reading session when the robbery happened. Sulton said the conductor of an approaching commercial bus noticed the scene and raised the alarm, scaring the robbers away. He said an X-ray revealed a bone fracture while he spent over N40, 000 to treat the wounds, and nurses severe pain till date. He said, “My parents reported to the school authorities and police but nothing was done by school authorities.’’

A similar fate was suffered by a student who gave his name only as AbdulRasaq on Monday 5 April 2021, when the 200-level student of the Faculty of Education was walking by the school walls at Lagos-Badagry Expressway. An eyewitness said his attackers took away his bags and phone “and left cuts all over his fingers and close to his jaw.” It was learnt AbdulRazaq was returning to his hostel from Easter break when the attack occurred.

Accounts by two students who spoke on condition of anonymity said attackers used intimidation to subdue their victims. Both students were robbed close to the university gate on the expressway. They disclosed that 2 hoodlums who fleeced them of their phones first accused them of wearing shirts with the colour of their confraternity while claiming their other members were nearby.

The hoodlums insisted on checking their phones to be sure they weren’t cultists; upon satisfying themselves, they asked them to buy drinks before they would release their phones. “We both went to buy the specific drink each of them requested and when we returned to tell them we couldn’t get the drinks, they had fled with our phones,’’ one of them said.

An ex-student of Dept of Microbiology, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was attacked during his freshman days as he tried entering the campus via PPL gate at about 8 pm. He said the Ojo area, where LASU is sited, is generally unsafe. He claimed criminal elements in the area come from “Alaba Rago” at Alaba International Market.

A final year student of Dept of Political Science, Ganiu Oloruntade, said the school should organise better orientations for freshers to intimate them on areas to avoid. Ganiu noted he was also a victim of robbery around the school area on the expressway while he was in 100 Level in 2017.

SCHOOL AND POLICE REACT
Speaking with Sunday PUNCH, Spokesperson for the varsity, Mr Ademola Adekoya, noted the security challenges faced by students of the university. He said the university had taken measures to curtail the menace, such as advising that students avoid entering campus earlier than 6 am and leaving later than 6 pm. Adekoya added that the Marshalls weren’t mandated to dabble in security issues outside the university.

On lack of streetlights along the school walls on the expressway, he said the ongoing road construction made it impossible to install streetlights since it would likely be removed as construction progressed. He further said the state environment ministry disallowed such installation in the area due to the ongoing construction. He said the Chief Security Officer of the University was holding talks with the DPO of Ojo Police Station to tackle insecurity in the identified areas.

When contacted, spokesperson for the police in the state, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said the command had been arresting hoodlums terrorising people on the highways across the state and would sustain the raids. He said, “We arrest those bad boys on a daily basis. The command wishes to urge students and their unions to work with the police formations around them to beef up security in the areas. Many of the bad boys are in our net and we will pick more.”

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