It was quite a high drama. The scene was on Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos. It was penultimate Friday. Three armed robbery suspects, who had stripped a victim naked inside his own car and robbed him, ran out of luck.
The victim, who all the while was held hostage, in a rare show of bravura, held the steering from the back seat, forcing the car into an abrupt halt.
He then ran out naked and started shouting, ‘Thief! Thief! Thief!’ The stupefied robbery suspects too ran after him, shouting ‘Thief! Thief! Thief!’ to confuse everyone.
A Rapid Reponse Squad(RRS) team on patrol on the bridge saw the scene, packed their van and gave the suspects a hot chase.
Two of the fleeing suspects, in their desperation to avoid arrest, were said to have taken a deep plunge into the lagoon!
But the third suspect who could not take the plunge of death was eventually arrested. The suspect, Stephen Aderemi Abayomi, aged 35, from Odigbo in Ondo State, is now cooling his heels in the cell of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, Lagos.
Stephen, in explaining his role, narrates the whole saga thus: “I’m a commercial driver. I drive cars or buses. I have five years driving experience. I am married with two lovely boys and one beautiful girl. I reside at Ore, Ondo State. I have a friend at Obalende Park in Lagos. He is a bus driver. I can’t remember his name.
“He told me on the phone to come to Obalende on Friday. He was to give me his bus to drive for him on Sunday.
“As I was going to Obalende, I branched at Ibafo and met a friend called James who is also a driver. I met him in a beer parlour, drinking . He asked me to sit down and take one bottle. We were there till 11.30pm that Friday, and I ended up consuming over 13 bottles of beer and a packet of White London and small weed.
“I became tired. Because it was late, I suggested going to his house to sleep so that by the next day being Saturday and an environmental sanitation day, I would go to Obalende to see my friend who invited me.
“James then told me that since that day was Friday, it would be better for both of us to proceed to Victoria Island for enjoyment in some clubs around the area. We went as suggested by James.
“We were four in number, namely, myself, James, who was with his car, and other two gang members whose names I don’t know because that was my first day of meeting them. One of them is an Igbo guy, tall and black.
“When we got to Victoria Island,we rocked some girls. We also drank heavily. When I asked James why this fun, he urged me to enjoy myself, telling me I didn’t know what the future held in stock for me. I did not ask him any more questions.
“We left Victoria Island around 4.30am on Saturday, and James decided that we would drive straight to Ibafo to rest before the sanitation exercise would start. Later, James asked me to drive towards Berger to enable him buy can beer.
“I then told him that I wanted to go to Obalende, but he complained of time, stressing that I should wait and understand what he was telling me.
“As I was about to stop, we saw a Toyota Camry; he told me to pursue the car, claiming that the owner of the car was owing him some money. He wanted to seize the car so that the owner would come for it, and he would collect his money.
“I told him that my car was not fit to pursue the car,but he pressurised me to try, saying that gallops ahead would slow down the car, and little effort was required to get the car.
“While pursuing the car, we hit a Honda Accord, and we stopped. As I was begging the driver of the car, the other two members of the gang told the man that no damage was done to the car.
“The man later accepted our plea. As he was about to enter his car, the guy brought out a short gun and ordered the man to the back of his car and he complied.
“I was ordered to drive the Honda Accord by James. As we were going, they started searching the man and the car. They collected all his money and mobile phone. He was also stripped naked.
“As we got to the Third Mainland Bridge, he asked me to stop.He said he wanted to drop the owner of the Honda Accord. As I wanted to stop, the man held the steering from the back so strongly that there was no control of the vehicle again, thereby forcing the car to lock. It was about 7.00pm.
“Before we knew his plan, he jumped out of the car naked, while the two gang members with him at the back seat came out. One of them shouted: ‘I will shoot you. Do you know what you are doing? Are you mad?’
But the man threw caution to the winds and started running and shouting: ‘Thief, thief, thief. They are robbers! They have just robbed me .They have taken my car!’
“At this stage, the RRS operatives on patrol on the Third Mainland Bridge noticed the drama, and started pursuing the victim assumed to be feigning madness and the three armed robbery suspects, including me, who were equally shouting: ‘They are armed robbers! We have been robbed! That mad man is not mad ooh! He is an armed robber. He and his gang members just robbed us.’
“But the RRS men were determined to arrest everybody. Two of the robbery suspects decided to jump into the lagoon from the middle of the Third Mainland Bridge. In my own case, I didn’t have the courage to do so.