The Mowe-Ibafo-Magboro-Warewa stretch of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Ogun State has for a long time been a nightmare to motorists and those living along the axis due to the operations of armed robbers and sundry criminals.
In January 2013, a family narrated how they were nearly hacked to death by armed robbers who waylaid their vehicle on the expressway.
On June 2012, a retired Brigadier-General, Sylvester Iruh, who was stabbed to death by robbers suspected to be Fulani herdsmen at Warewa on the road.
Iruh had stopped to change a bad tyre and the bandits jumped him and the occupants of his vehicle. He lost his life due to the stab wounds he sustained in the hands of the bandits.
However, CODEWIT has learnt that the bus stop opposite the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry Church at Magboro has been converted into a den of rapists and robbers.
The recent death of a victim, who was raped and murdered by her assailants at the bus stop, has generated an outcry from people living around the area.
The victim, Mrs. Adetoun Egbedeyi, was coming back from work on March 20, 2013 and had gone to park her car in the premises of the MFM church, our correspondent learnt.
Adetoun worked with Insight Communications, Ikeja before her tragic death.
A resident of the area, who identified himself simply as Adeye, who was privy to efforts made to locate her after she went missing, told our correspondent that Adetoun’s husband, Deji, usually picked her after she parked her car.
The road leading to their house is in a poor state, which was why she usually parked her car in the premises of MFM and crossed to the other side of the road to proceed home.
The resident said, “She called Deji that night on the phone around 7pm and told him to meet her at the bus stop as usual to take her home, but he had gone out. So, she told him not to worry, that she would find her way home.
“She went missing between that bus-stop and her house.”
When our correspondent drove through the area on Tuesday, it was noticed that the bus stop is situated beside a ditch thick with grasses.
The stretch of the road leading to the murdered woman’s house is lined with shacks built with planks and tarpaulin by men of Northern extraction. About 50 metres away is the expansive premises of Buildwell Plants and Equipment Industry Limited.
During a visit to the area, our correspondent saw young men of questionable character smoking Indian hemp with reckless abandon while some others washed their clothes at the front of the shacks. They shouted obscenities at our correspondent, when he attempted to take the photographs of the area.
It was clear that that is where they live and sell engine oil and black market petrol and diesel.
Adeye said, “When Deji got home that night and was told his wife was not yet home, he went to the premises of MFM where she had parked her car and was she had left.
“The case was reported that night at Ibafo Police Station but the police told the husband that he would have to wait for 24 hours before they could declare her missing. The following morning, when a search party went to the vicinity of the bus stop again, they found one of her shoes and her body close by. It was obvious she had been raped and strangled. There were marks on her neck.”
When CODEWIT learnt that many other women and men had been attacked in the area, our correspondent went in search of some of the victims.
The residents of the area said bandits operating in the area sometimes throw metal objects or rocks at passing vehicles in order to force them to stop.
“The evil these people perpetrate here is unimaginable. They rob any motorists who slows down around
here and rape women they are able to waylay,” a resident who identified himself as Adebayo, told our correspondent.
We were able to track down a victim who barely escaped being raped, it became clear that the attacks had been going on for a long time.
The woman, a lawyer, reluctantly agreed to tell her story under the condition that her name would not be published.
“I live in this area and I don’t want anybody to come after me please,” she said.
She said she was saved by a hoe she was holding that day in November 2011 when a stranger suddenly grabbed her on the side of the road.
She said, “Earlier in the day, my mother-in-law had told me to buy a hoe she wanted to use to weed some parts of the compound. I was going home that evening and had the hoe in a plastic bag I was holding as I stood on the other side of the road, waiting to cross to the MFM side.
“Suddenly, I felt a hand on my left arm. My initial thought was that it was somebody I knew. But when I turned to look at who it was, I realised that the person could only have an evil intention. I could not see the details of the face of the man and he did not say a word.
“He started dragging me towards the ditch beside the road. I was screaming and shouting ‘help, help.’ “Those on the other side of the road heard my screaming but they were afraid to move closer toward where I was. My bag fell down but I still held on to the hoe.”
The lawyer said her assailant succeeded in dragging her into the ditch but she continued screaming.
As she tried to fight off her attacker, the assailant brought out a machete and inflicted some deep cuts on her hands.
But fear gave power to her arms as she lifted the hoe and hit his assailant on the forehead.
She told CODEWIT, “As I hit him, he reeled backwards and fell down. I continued screaming as I clawed my way out of the ditch and quickly ran to the road. Those standing on the side of the road quickly moved towards me when they saw me come out.”
“I spent a month in hospital treating the wounds on my hand. I still cannot use the hand properly till now.”
Our correspondent also spoke with Judith, who lost her 40-year-old husband, Mayowa, to robbers at the bus stop on February 26, 2013.
When our correspondent tracked her down, she recalled the sad experience with much pain.
“My husband left his office in Ikorodu late in the night that day. He had called me as he was leaving and told me he had some money with him. I think the money was up to N500,000. He also had some clothing merchandise in his boot.
“We were waiting for him around 11pm that night, when someone called me with his phone and said, ‘madam, come quickly, your husband was in an accident and is lying down bleeding on the road at MFM bus stop.
“It was when we rushed there that we learnt what happened. They threw a tyre rim at his car, a Benz 190, and he crashed.
“By the time we got there, they had taken the phones, money and all other valuables in the car. They only left the merchandise in the boot. I cannot forget the thought that they were robbing my husband as he lay dying.
“There was no blood in his vehicle. I was told he was found outside the vehicle bleeding heavily. What I was able to piece together was that the bandits pulled him out of the vehicle after the crash and hit him with an object in the head,” she said.
Judith said when she got there the person who called her with her husband’s phone was nowhere to be found.
She said policemen from Ibafo put the body of his husband in their van but was angry that they made no attempt to take him to the hospital.
“We have not heard anything about the case since the incident. We have also not heard from the police. The body was released to us since he was pronounced dead in the hospital he was taken to when we got to the scene of the robbery,” Judith told our correspondent.
Another resident, who identified himself as Segun, said he once saw a woman crying at the bus stop after she had been attacked.
“She was taken to the MFM clinic for treatment. I heard many victims have been taken to the clinic for treatment in the past,” he said.
At the clinic, a nurse said attacks in the area were a regular occurrence.
“These criminals even snatched a baby from the back of a woman once. A lot of attacks take place in there. I just hope the police will do something about it because this has been taking place for a long time,” she said.
The bridge before the bus stop was also identified by some residents as a black spot as criminals are said to hide under it to attack people at night.
The road under the bridge is the one leading to Akeran Village and Magboro 2.
Residents of the area have labelled the bus stop a black spot where nobody dares to wait once it is nightfall.
“Those who get attacked in that place are usually those who do not know the history of the place. Those who know about the attacks there avoid the place like a plague. We are certain that it is those men living in those shacks that carry out the attacks,” a respondent told CODEWIT.
When our correspondent contacted the police spokesperson for the Ogun State Police Command, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi, he said he needed to make some findings from the Ibafo Police Division.
However, on Thursday morning, a day after the police spokesperson promised an action on the area, policemen were seen dismantling shacks and setting them on fire at the bus stop, an action that has attracted praise from residents.
However, those who spoke with our correspondent suggested that the companies around the area should also complement the work of the police by clearing the shacks and surrounding bushes.
“The police have done well by dislodging those living illegally in those shacks. But that is not enough, given the state of that place. There are many companies around the area, they should try to clear the thick bush used as hideout by the criminals as their corporate social responsibility,” a resident told CODEWIT.