In what appeared like a new wave of crime in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, a gang of robbers has devised the use of passenger bus to unleashed terror on the residents, motorists and pedestrians around Rumuomoi/Rumuola axis, just as they carted away valuable items from their victims, daring anyone to stand in their way.
The incident which took place over the weekend in the evening, led many scampering for safety in different directions.
According to an eye witness, Ugochukwu Dan,the development occurred as a shock, “because no one was expecting a tragedy like that to hit the streets. But in the twinkle of an eye, everything changed as the boys filed out with dangerous weapons including machetes, guns and others which they used in molesting innocent people.”
Ugochuckwu recalled that, the boys numbering about seven took position at strategic places, stopping and searching anyone who crossed their path.
“From where I took cover, I witnessed how ladies were robbed of their bags, containing money, phones and other items. Men and boys were not spared either. They warned their victims not to be confrontational before they dispossessed them of their valuables, especially phones and money.”
He expressed surprise at the turn of event that warranted the use of passenger but to carry out a criminal activity like that.
Another victim, Kemi Usman, who would have been robbed but was lucky to have dropped an empty bag threw some light on how she escaped. According to her, she was returning from Rumuola market that evening and saw people running toward her. In her words: “I decided to see why people were panicky and, so , as I walked close to where one of the bad boys was standing without noticing, he pounced on me and warned me not to move but surrender all I have . Before then ,I made sure nothing more was in my bag after hiding my things in my jean trousers .But, I managed to escape from his grip by dropping the bag on the floor. So, he left me and went for the bag.”
Similarly, a resident of the area who pleaded to be anonymous stated that the robbery gang took advantage to raid shops along the road. The panic stricken resident regretted that Rumuola and Rumuigbo axis had developed into a notorious area for criminality, citing how three policemen were attacked and got killed late last year.
She was of the opinion that if patrol by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad,(SARS) had been consistent, the gang would have been caught up with in their adventure. She expressed concern that what happened could be a new trend in a political time to fuel disruption of law and order in the state.
The pandemonium generated by the gang also led to traffic build up along Rumuola Road as the fear had spread that the situation may escalate. Other eye witness reasoned that the situation got some motorists agitated to the point where some decided to either make a u-turn or increase their speed on the road. Many pedestrians were equally seen running helter skelter for their safety.
Meanwhile, In a related development, a mobile policeman attached to the M-Tel office (formerly NITEL) around Garrison area of Port Harcourt has pulled the trigger over some disagreement with a man whom the officer alleged threatened to kill him.
The incident which took place at about 7:am Friday, attracted attention from onlookers, even as the gun shot from the mobile policeman sent jitters down the spine of many.
National Network was at the scene when the conflict broke out. The police officer who released bullet into the air was seen dragging his opponent into the compound where he was attached to provide security. But some men who were privy to what transpired made frantic efforts to rescue the man from the policeman who became furious for the alleged threat from a civilian.
But, in a swift reaction, an elderly man who simply gave his name as Dede, condemned what happened. He noted that the policeman overreacted to what happened between him and a civilian. He appealed to the police authorities to caution their officers. ”It is not right that a matter like that would result into wasting of bullet. The man in this case is armless,” he said