This report spotlights danger zones for drivers and residents in Abuja after speaking to motorists and leaders of the National Union of Road Transport Works (NURTW) at Berger, Wuse, Jabi, Maitama, Lugbe, Wuye, Airport Junction, Bannex, Abuja Airport and other motor parks as well as private car owners and rideshare drivers. BAMAS Victoria reports.
FELIX Abrahams was driving from Wuse II on the Sani Abacha Way – Shehu Yar’adua Way, better known as Wuse – Mabushi express
As he approached the Wuse market ramp, his car started decelerating. He edged onto the shoulder of the road, turned off the ignition, and then tried to restart the car. Unsuccessful, he flicked a switch to open the bonnet.
At this point, “I was closer to Mabushi bridge”, Abrahams says.
When he unlocked his car, two men flanked the car – one at the driver’s side, the other at the passenger door.
“The one at my side brought out a dagger, pulled the door open, pushed me back into the car and hit me with the knife. It landed on my neck,” Abrahams recalls.
The second man had opened the passenger door and was ransacking the car for valuables. He took the phone that was in the cupholder.
“All this happened in less than 2 minutes,” he recounts. In that short time, he was stabbed seven times.
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After the first stab, which made contact with his neck, he raised his arm as a shield. The subsequent stabs landed on his biceps and shoulder, which are now scarred.
The one ransacking the car told his partner, “Let’s go.” And they fled into the night.
Abrahams would have handed over his valuables without a fuss had they demanded, but they had not.
“I was confused, and my mind was on the car,” he says, “I did not expect an attack”. It was 10 p.m., and there were still motorists on the road.
He was bleeding. His training as a public health specialist told him he needed medical attention fast. He got out, walked up the kerb and began flagging down cars. None stopped. “People will just swerve and zoom off.”
A young man walking by nearly a half-hour later helped him stop a vehicle.
Fear of hassle with police makes people not help
When the first car that stopped later zoomed off, Abrahams thought it was because he was drenched in blood.
Many people in Nigeria avoid aiding stabbing or gunshot victims as this may require dealing with the police. This is partly due to a misconception about the law.
Eventually, an old rickety taxi stopped. Felix was relieved. Now he could get help, he thought. Not so simple.
He needed to go to the hospital, but his young helper and the taxi driver insisted on getting a police report first.
Many health workers refuse to attend to stabbing or gunshot patients without a police report.
This notion stems from a misunderstanding of Section 4 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Act 1990, which stipulates such cases be reported to the police.
The stipulation was updated in the 2014 National Health Act, in section 20 (1), which states, “a health care provider, health worker or health establishment shall not refuse a person emergency medical treatment for any reason whatsoever.”
The government further entrenched this in the 2017 “Compulsory Treatment and Care of Victims of Gunshots Act”. However, the practice persists.
A senator, Oluremi Tinubu spoke on the practice in 2021. “In a country where emergency response is almost non-existent, and getting victims to the hospital is already burdensome, it is sad that where the victims make it to a hospital alive, they are still denied treatment and left to die.”
Seven years after the amendment, the public is still not enlightened. Abrahams first went to a police station in Mabushi before eventually going to Maitama District Hospital.
He recalls the doctor and on-call matron exclaimed, “not again”. He would later find out their exclamation was in response to similar cases.
Do hospitals request police reports before treatment?
The Chief Medical Director of Maitama District hospital, Imuentinyan Igbinovia, told The ICIR in October 2021, “When someone has been mugged and has a cause to come to the hospital it will mean that either the person has physical damage or psychological damage.
“Once the person comes to the hospital, the first thing we do is to give first aid and immediate treatment as would be necessary to help the patient, then while that is going on, we, the hospital, will send for the police – who have been very cooperative with us – to take the police report.”
Igbinovia confirmed that the hospital has treated multiple mugging related robbery incidents but could not say if the cases had increased or reduced.
Wash, rinse, repeat – muggers targeting drivers in distress for years
In 2019, two years before Abrahams’ mugging, a journalist Buchi Onyegbule was robbed in the same area: under the Wuse cloverleaf intersection and in a similar manner.
“Car inexplicably started overheating on my way home, and after refilling with water twice, I stopped intermittently to allow [the] engine cool in bits, and then on one-stop, the good ol’ boys of Wuse 2 pounced,” he wrote on Twitter.
He was also dispossessed of his valuables—phone, money, wristwatch, and the grilled fish he had bought earlier on his way.
He told The ICIR he did not report to the police because he “finds the police investigations to be a hassle. So I weighed that against what had been stolen and decided against it.”
Commercial motorists are not left out
In December 2021, Jimi Oladipupo, the chairman of the Wuse chapter of Abuja Painted Taxi Union, told The ICIR that Commercial drivers also fall prey to muggings—when they are engaged as “drop” and not “along”.
‘Drop’ here refers to when the driver picks an individual or a group going to a given location, whereas ‘along’ refers to a shared ride, where a driver maintains a predetermined route with passengers alighting at different stops.
Many taxis have picked up muggers at the Wuse intersection on Sani Abacha way. Another danger spot is a section just before Next Cash & Carry supermarket on Ahmadu Bello way. Eugene, another taxi route leader at Nicon Junction, also points out that Mabushi and the supermarket axis are hotspots.
“At night, two or three guys will stop you,” Oladipupo explains. “When they get to the road, especially around that Cash & Carry side, they will say they want to alight. The one behind would hold the driver – a chokehold, while the one in front will come out with a dagger.”
He narrated how a driver in his union lost his phone and money in one such robbery. “It happened around 8:30 to p.m,” he recalls.
Drivers who stop to pee by the highway side can also be vulnerable, he said.
When in such a situation, “The best thing is to obey them,” he advised.
Abuja city gate – different axis, same mugging format
This advice rang true for an engineer Adekola Lekan who was mugged on Constitution Avenue – just before the City Gate at 7 p.m. He was mugged in the same fashion as Abrahams and Onyegbule.
His car developed a mechanical fault. When he stopped to check, three men robbed him.
While one threatened him with a pair of scissors, the other two went straight to the car, picked out his valuables and ran off into the bush. He was fortunate that he was not hurt.
He reported to the police at Wuye, but only because he needed the extract to retrieve his mobile number. This was the case with many of the victims interviewed. At the police station, he learnt, mugging at that location was a recurring incident.
Several months later, Lekan said he noticed a police van now stays at the spot at night.
This was confirmed by the reporter who drove through the axis multiple times on different days in February 2022 – at dusk, a police van can be sighted just before the Amusement Park gate, across the road from the stadium.
However, it was not confirmed if the cases of mugging necessitated the development.
Another issue motorists contend with on the Wuse market axis is car theft.
According to Oladipupo, car thefts were rampant, most especially during ’ember’ months, because there was no security outside the market.
He, however, stated that as of December, when he had the interview with the ICIR, there had been no incident of car theft.
“For a year now, we have not seen any attack [car theft],” he stated with pride. “By this time last year, we recorded five to six car thefts.”
He credited the success to the association’s good relationship with the DPO of Zone 3 Wuse Police Station.
When the police station boss assumed office, he met with the union to talk about improving security. One effort was to insist and enforce that motorists park at designated places – in the market or the car parks – where a fee is paid and security provided.
The marshals stationed at different locations enforce the order by clamping wrongly parked cars.
Ride-hailing drivers target for carjacking
Another group vulnerable to carjacking are ride-hailing drivers.
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abdulganiyu Adeladun told The ICIR how he fell victim to an attempted carjacking.
He was driving two passengers from Gwagwalada heading toward the airport. One sat in front, the other in the back. The one in front grabbed the steering wheel, causing the car to veer off the road. When it dawned on him that it was a carjacking, he flung away the key.
The men followed him out, and a fight broke out.
“It was like a movie,” Adeladun recalls.
He was beaten up, his clothes torn on that evening in 2020.
“They attempted to shoot me with a gun, but it didn’t work. Maybe it was a toy gun,” he said reflectively.
Porbeni Joshua is one of the coordinators at the taxi ramp for e-hailing drivers at the airport. He is known as the ‘Airport Landlord’. He said, “We, the e-hailing drivers, have been going through danger at the job, mostly at night and sometimes during the day. Because riders are not profiled, any random person can pick up a SIM card and register with any name.
“You see names like Snake, Wizard, Ghost, Terrorist, we will be forced to carry them because once you accept a request, you have to carry the person; otherwise, the driver will get penalised for not carrying the rider,” Joshua told the ICIR.
Gwagwalada, Wuse Market area, Mararaba and Kubwa axis are dangerous at night. From Kubwa, a carjacker can head straight to Niger state, he stated.
Joshua’s list of locations he calls “grey areas” where jackings and muggings frequently occur are exit points from the FCT, except for Wuse market, which is within 3km of Mabushi bridge.
In March 2022, six months after a protest to demand stringent profiling and onboarding of riders, the Deputy Coordinator of the National Coalition of Ride Sharing Partners (NARCORP), Fred Aleburu, told the ICIR that nothing has been done to that effect.
He noted that drivers still fall victim, but getting a list of incidents is challenging since not all drivers are part of the union. However, a news report on the Punch website puts the figure at ten carjackings in the first eight months of 2021.
“The attacks are still on` especially now that the economy is tough. The bad guys are devising ways to collect vehicles from their drivers,” Aleburu proffered.
“Third-party riders are the biggest threat,” he said.
These are riders whose rides are booked for by another person.
“I am advising all our drivers to be careful with such riders because the app companies do not have records of their riders, not to talk of third parties,” Aleburu said.
When picking up a third party, he advises drivers to get the person’s photo and phone number and send it to their families or colleagues as a safety measure.
He also advised drivers to avoid night work. If it is unavoidable, they should not carry more than one person at a time, and the rider should be asked to sit in front.
Ride-hailing platforms react
A mail sent to the mobility company Bolt using the email on their website was not responded to.
In recent times Bolt has faced criticism on Twitter concerning the security of drivers and riders. In a thread archived here, many commenters faulted Bolt for falling short – in terms of security compared to similar services.
In response to The ICIR query on drivers’ demands, Uber said, “We take the concerns of drivers seriously. Safety is important to Uber—whether a person is in the backseat or behind the wheel.”
In response to enhancing rider verification, Uber said they launched Rider Selfies, a safety feature for new cash riders without a valid credit card on file. The selfie has to be of one person, with no face coverings like sunglasses or masks, and not be a photo of a photo and is linked to a Facebook account.
They also said drivers also have access to an in-app emergency button to third-party security to get help if needed. The app displays the driver’s location and trip details so these can be shared with emergency services.
This is in addition to the Injury Protection provided to both riders and drivers, at no cost.
More drivers identify spots susceptible to mugging
A woman who wants anonymity also told The ICIR she was mugged by two people when she stopped due to car trouble along the Mabushi express in September of 2021 around 8 p.m.
She said she was injured; however, the injury was “just scratch”.
Four other drivers told The ICIR they were mugged at “Wuse Market Bridge”, “On top of Jabi Lake Bridge”, “Airport road, opposite VON junction” and “Bannex under the bridge”.
Bannex – Gwarinpa: passengers attempt to rob another passenger, driver
Sani Kadiji, a cab driver, was mugged by passengers he had picked up at Bannex bridge on Ahmadu Bello Way. He was driving to Gwarinpa, which means passing Cash & Carry route.
“I later found out that three of my four passengers were together”, he told The ICIR.
The passenger had repeatedly put the car gear to neutral. Kadiji had thought his gearbox was malfunctioning. When he realised what was happening, he stepped on the brake. The three men started hitting him and the other passenger.
Fortunately for him, the sudden stop in the middle of the road led to a traffic build-up, and the robbers fled.
He did not report to the police. “Aside from the beatings, I did not lose any valuables; therefore, I didn’t see the point. I was grateful for God’s protection.”
Jabi – Airport junction route: snatch and dash
Abubakar Alhaji Hassan, unit chairman for Jabi – Aiport junction route taxis, said on the ring road connecting to Umaru Musa Yaradua, at Dantata` bridge, which heads to Lugbe and airport, mugging – mostly phone or bag snatching has reduced.
That’s because the speed bumps which slow drivers down on the unlit, un-demarcated road flanked on both sides by an expanse of undeveloped land were removed in 2019
VIDEO: After several reports of criminal activities at the speed bump spots along Jabi by Airport road, the bumps are presently being removed to ease movement for motorists.
— ABUJA FACTS (@Abuja_Facts) September 15, 2019
The thieves loiter in the dark, and when a driver comes through with the windows down, they dash for the car to grab anything they can. This could be the driver’s or passengers’ belongings.
Hassan stated this is still the case once you join the express at the Dantata Bridge, Aleita, Chika and Shoprite.
“As soon as you stop at the bus stop for a passenger to alight, they grab a bag or phone and run,” Hassan narrates.
Motorists dread having a mechanical issue on that route at night because tyres, mirrors, radios and other parts of the car would have been stolen by daybreak.
“These people (thieves) move with their jack and wheel spanner to remove the tyres,” he notes. Other drivers passing will think they are the owners of the car.
For cars that break down there at night, Hassan advised the drivers to get the car towed away immediately.
This, he said, is not without its challenges, as the police often stop them if it is not a towing van that is doing the towing.
However, he urged security agents to note when they see another taxi at night towing another, even if it is a private car, they should know that it is because the location of the breakdown is a dangerous area.
Mugging gets fatal
Not everyone is fortunate to get away with just scars or loss of valuables.
In December 2020, when his car developed a fault under the Mabushi intersection, Nasir was stabbed. It was 30 minutes before someone stopped by – a relative whose number Nasir knew by heart was called and had spoken to the ICIR anonymously.
The relative believed the delay contributed to Nasir’s death.
The case was reported to the police by those who stopped to help.
“A military guy was killed around that side, so I wasn’t surprised when they told me the police didn’t do anything,” the relative tells the ICIR.
In 2019 a military officer was found dead around the Mabushi bridge, multiple media reports show.
At the time of the interview, the incident was over one year. “The Police called the wife at some point to come and make a statement, but the family were not interested. “There is no point as long as it is not bringing him back,” the relative stated.
How to aid a mugged victim
When you stop to assist someone mugged, ensure you call for help, Chijioke Oguno, a doctor, tells the ICIR.
He also said to call out to the person, and if there is no response, check that the person is breathing.
He explained that objects might obstruct the person’s airways – nose and mouth. He also said to check for a pulse.
“If the person is not breathing and does not have a pulse, you need to start Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).”
For a stabbing wound, you need to control the bleeding by applying compression.
To do compression, get a clean piece of clothing and use it to put pressure on the wound. “It’s one of the ways to stop continuous bleeding,” Oguno explains.
Another alternative is to tie if the stab is on the leg or in places that can be tied. He, however, noted tying should be for a short time.
Oguno also said elevation is another way to stop blood loss. “If you have a bleed on the leg, you can raise the leg up, reducing the bleeding by virtue of gravity.”
He warned against pulling out the knife or instrument, as it may be lodged in a vital vessel.
Post mugging experience
The ICIR spoke to Abrahams three months after his mugging incident. Does he think he will ever be able to live down the experience?
“I probably should have seen a psychologist or psychiatrist for trauma counselling to avoid PTSD,” he says.
He is a social person, so he was able to pull through with support from friends, family and colleagues. Not everyone is as social as Abrahams. He also has an advanced degree in health psychology.
“So, I did everything to stay positive. I never knew these kinds of attacks were happening.”
After the incident, he started hearing stories of people who had survived similar incidents.
Now, when he passes that road and sees a car parked at that spot, he tries to warn the drivers.
Multiple attempts to speak to the police were fruitless.
In March, several calls on different days were placed to the FCT police public relations officer (PPRO) Adah Josephine. None was returned or responded to.
A call was placed to the FCT emergency police line, where the call reps advised to visit the police station. Because the number of the incidents tracked happened around Mabushi, The ICIR went to Mabushi police station, and the DPO – the person the policemen referred to as the boss – who gave his name as Garba, declined to comment on the ground that only the FCT spokesperson can respond.
However, the PPRO still did not respond to subsequent calls.
The emergency line for the FCT is 112 and it is toll-free, says Nkechi Isa, the spokesperson for the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
She notes that FEMA responds to domestic emergencies, be it natural or man-made.
For other emergencies the call rep will direct the call to the appropriate agency, she explains.
The FEMA also have other numbers listed on its website for emergencies, when the ICIR called one of them to make enquiries, it was promptly responded to.
This report by the International Centre for Investigation (The ICIR) is produced in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).