If Gladys Haruna, a school teacher in the Lokogoma area of Abuja knew that she would spend her night in the den of criminals on October 12, she would not have stepped out of her house.
Gladys was a victim of car robbery syndicates popularly known as “one-hance”. On that fateful day, she had boarded a commercial taxi from the popular Wuse market in Abuja and was heading to her residence in Lokogoma, but unknown to her, she had entered into the trap of criminals.
She was driven to another location where she was beaten to unconsciousness, stripped of all belongings in her possession, and forced to transfer all funds from her bank accounts to the criminals.
Narrating her ordeal to BusinessDay, she said, “On that fateful day, I had gone to Wuse market to purchase a laptop. After I was done, around 5 pm, I boarded a taxi which already had some passengers on it. Shortly after we took off, they diverted to another route. Then I started to panic, I knew I was in trouble. All the passengers were criminals.
“They started threatening to kill me if I didn’t call people to send me money, after taking everything with me and withdrawing every dime from my bank account. They used phone to call people including my school proprietors who all sent money. This operation lasted till 4 am the next day. They beat me until I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I was in the hospital. These criminals dropped off on the road. It was a horrible near-death I will live with forever”, she cried.
Abuja residents are now living in constant fear, with many people reporting being robbed or knowing someone who has fallen victim to a one-chance robbery.
The nation’s capital is witnessing a surge in the activities of these one-chance criminals, and residents, particularly those who do own cars are grappling with this reality.
“One chance” is a form of organized crime that involves criminals posing as public transport drivers, such as taxi or bus drivers, and then robbing their passengers.
The criminals may drive around with passengers for a while before robbing them, or they may drive to a secluded area to carry out the robbery.
Sometimes to create a safe atmosphere, these criminals engage female cohorts who often pretend to be a passenger with a fake pregnancy to further deceive their victims.
Even more terrifying is that these one-chance criminals can become more brutal and kill their victims, throw them out of a moving vehicle, or inflict serious injuries on them. More often, the survival of victims largely depends on the value and amount of money they give to the criminals.
In what has been described as an ugly development, one-chance robbery has seemingly found a new breeding ground in the heart of Nigeria. These criminals are taking over the roads of Abuja to rob unsuspecting passengers on lonely roads and even on busy express roads in broad daylight.
Another victim, Paschal Kelechi, a student of the University of Abuja was heading to Dantata Bridge along the Airport road from Gwagwalada. He boarded a taxi, last week which also had passengers in it who unknown to him were criminals.
“I entered a taxi, but not long they started harassing me. I couldn’t scream all calls for help, because they were holding knives, daggers, and a screwdriver. After taking everything with me including my phones, cash, and laptop. They pushed me out of the car. I sustained serious injuries on my legs and hands, and I am still recovering ” he said.
So many other victims did not live to tell their story. A popular case is the tragic death of a human resources consultant, and member of the Yali network in Abuja, following a harrowing encounter with a one-chance criminal driver.
The Federal Capital Territory police have so far arrested eight suspected “one-chance” syndicates while eight operational vehicles used by them have also been recovered. If
Haruna Garba, the FCT Police Commissioner, announced recently that the police has intensified its crackdown operations against the one-chance criminals and other violent crimes in the FCT.
He made this disclosure in Abuja following the Security Committee meeting, which was chaired by Nyesom Wike, the FCT minister said two separate joint task forces have been set up and have since commenced operations.
According to the FCT Police Commissioner, decisions were taken to set up one task force consisting of all the security agencies in the Territory to tackle the menace of “one chance” and the other to curtail the activities of armed robbers, kidnappers, and all other crimes within the FCT and its environs.
The Police commissioner who noted that these two security operations have commenced in earnest, assured the residents of the FCT of their resolve to rid the Territory of crimes and criminalities.
He assured that the FCT will soon witness a notable decline in the activities of the “one-chance” robbery syndicates.