There was a man (the helper) who shared a testimony in my church about how he escaped armed robbers on his way home from an out of state engagement. He was on his way back home one beautiful Sunday afternoon from a trip to Kaduna state and he decided to assist this couple who were stranded on the road. As fortune will have it they were going towards the same direction with him, Kubwa.
As they approached their destination, the couple decided to drop under the bridge so that they would take *”along” to their home but as soon as the man attempted to slow down, he was stabbed in the neck by the man sitting at the back seat, while the woman who sat in the passenger seat in front started struggling to take the car keys from the ignition and also push the “helper” out of his car.
The “helper” managed to remove the knife from his neck and in turn stabbed the woman. Seeing that his partner had been stabbed. The man started shouting “thief thief”.
The helper finally pulled the car over at the side of the road, and out, came three people covered in blood. The “helper” holding his neck to stop the blood flow, the woman with the knife sticking out of her side and her partner tending to her wound, shouting and pointing accusingly at the “helper” who in turn was pointing at the couple and shouting “thief”.
In the midst of the confusion, “people” in arms gathered brandishing makeshift weapons ready to dish out jungle justice to the suspected culprit but were confused as to who the real thief was?” They were even more astounded and amazed when the helper insisted that the “people” take them to the police station so as to determine the real culprit.
We all know that in Nigeria, as much as they say the police is your friend, even if you are innocent or guilty of whatever crime, you’d rather settle it without the involvement of the police, right?
Fortunately for the helper, the people didn’t have to look far because there were the *MOPOL men nearby who swung into action and were able to determine that the couple were the culprit through identification of car papers and drivers license.
When he spoke in church, he said” I am lucky to be alive because the knife just missed my jugular by a few inches”
As for the culprit, he didn’t say what happened to them but I believe they should still be in police custody for attempted murder, aggravated assault, and robbery.
The above narrative may look like another story but it’s a real-life event.
As I listened to the story, so many thoughts crossed my mind, like what if the people had just concluded that the helper was the thief and the couple the victim, would he have been lynched or worse still would he have been burnt alive?
What if the police weren’t there to diffuse the situation?
What if the people did not listen to the helper at all, what would have happened to him?
These were and still are the questions that go through my mind when I see people on the road flagging down free rides or hopping into cabs, *along or *keke. And the realization that this could happen to anybody whether you are the owner of the vehicle or a passenger in a public transport.
People must move, go to work, travel, and hustle but doing so in safety leaves a big question mark.
There were times when you could hitch a ride and both parties would get to their various destinations safely but not anymore. Even if you do not assist a commuter with a free ride, a hoodlum would either smash your car window, point a gun or knife at you or grab your personal belongings leaving you with both physical and psychological damages and trauma.
Yes, you are alive but the trauma and expenses you go through to become sane again issa long one.
Assisting strangers you see on the road these days comes with its attendant risks and a luxury I cannot afford. I know it’s good to help people when you can but giving strangers you meet on the road a lift is very dangerous and risky. So I’d rather not be caught in that mix.
Slowing down at evening/night time to drive over speed bumps is risky because hoodlums would creep out of the green reserves open your car door(s) and steal from you, so you have to risk spoiling your car shock absorbers, spring, and shaft than getting robbed.
Anytime I drive at night I stay in the middle of the road instead of one lane, I no dey do obedient citizen for night.
Even traffic lights stops are not safe anymore, you can get attacked. A couple was attacked a few months ago at a traffic light. Anytime I notice that the road is deserted and light dey tell me red (stop), stop for where! Na go I dey o. I know God has got me, He watches over me but I cannot come and go and put myself in harm’s way when I know it’s dangerous. I cannot risk it.
With the Christmas break fast approaching and the crime rates are at an all-time high, all those who thought that by December they would be driving a car but are still riding a bicycle are not pleased so they must take that which belongs to you for themselves.
According to a friend of mine, person eye dey shuk, eye dey red, anything to survive as long as you know kee person and no sell drugs, any way na way.
If those who own cars are attacked, what about public transport, nko? Those aren’t safe anymore too. It is a fifty-fifty chance you don’t enter “one chance”.
A friend of mine got into one and she was so fortunate to have been robbed of only her mobile phone because she doesn’t carry her debit card around nor use a bank mobile application. All these took place after a few slaps. The other two passengers weren’t as fortunate as my friend as it turned out that in a bus of about 10 passengers, 3 were victims.
What about *keke assaults or just standing on the road and getting attacked. An aunt of mine was waiting to get “along” to the hospital to visit a relative of hers and was attacked by hoodlums who crept out of the bush, used an iron rod to smash her head and snatched her handbag from her. She ended up being the one requiring a hospital visit.
The list of sad incidents are inexhaustible, the most important thing is to be safe and careful.
So here’s some advice to be safe during the Yuletide and always;
1. If you must hangout late in the night, please make sure you have a SOLID plan of how to get home. If you don’t please stay at home. You will not die if you don’t attend that party or see that movie. Safety first.
2. If you enter any public transport, kindly stay by the door. So if *kasala burst you can easily jump out. I have done it before, a few bruises here and there but I survived.
Secondly, do not let anyone tell you to move inside making the argument that they will be getting off soon as their destination is close by. Kindly come out let the person sit in the middle if he or she insists on sitting by the door due to gender arguments, let him go and buy his car till then the door space is yours.
3. Please do not use your phone if you stay by the door because your phone can attract hoodlums on the streets and may probably get snatched. Leave it in your bag, not in your back pocket and wait till you get home to reply any message or view any pictures.
4. If you are by the roadside waiting for a cab, while you wait kindly hold a pen by the side of your wrist so that when attacked you can easily defend yourself using the pen as a defense weapon probably targeting sensitive areas like the eye. If and when you do that, please RUN. I’m not advocating violence but you must defend yourself when attacked.
5. Carry pepper spray or little bottles of perfume or insecticide in your handbag and car but be careful not to spray in your eyes o.
6. Always lock your car. If it does not have a central lock control system make sure you take your time to lock each door and your windows should be more than halfway up. It doesn’t matter if the weather is hot, just do it.
The list is endless, please feel free to add yours in the comments section and I’ll gladly respond to them.
*Along: A popular public transportation system where the driver picks and drops off passengers along a particular route
*Kasala: The pidgin word for “trouble”, “disaster”
*MOPOL: Mobile Police
*Keke: Tricycle used as a means of transportation in Nigeria