By Franz Ndulue
Armed robbers have devised another strategy of using commercial tricycles popularly known as ‘Keke’ to carry out their criminal activities around Awka Capital City and its environs in recent times.
Our roving crime burster uncovered that the night marauders now disguise as ‘Keke’ operators to attack and rob unwary motorists, commuters and other members of the public.
The gangsters operate along the Zik Avenue (former Old Awka/Onitsha Road) between Nawfia and Umuokpu to Ugwu Tank axis of Amawbia, and usually move in groups of four or five persons clustered in their tricycles.
According to a commercial bus driver who was attacked last Friday, near St. Edward’s Catholic Church at Ugwu Tank, Adabebe quarters, Amawbia, the gangsters accosted him around 8 pm as he parked to drop a passenger.
In the ensuing encounter, one of the bandits alighted from the tricycle, blocked the driver’s door and asked him to “perform” which perhaps meant he should give them money, while others stayed put in the ‘Keke’.
Thinking that they were just ordinary touts, he gave the rogue some money he had collected from passengers who dropped at the point, but the bandit insisted that he should “put hand deep inside the pocket” for “good money.”
The driver said that as he was still contemplating what to do, the assailant told him that, “You know that things are bad now,” and then raised his shirt for him to see a locally made pistol which was hidden in the waistband of his trousers.
At that moment, the robber attempted to open the from door of the driver’s side, apparently in a bid to snatch the bus from him and he immediately zoomed off with the only female passenger in the front of the vehicle.
It would be recalled that a gang of armed robbers struck at Arroma Junction, Awka, last week, where they indiscriminately snatched handbags and telephone handsets from people but luck ran out on them, as some policemen reportedly arrived at the scene and opened fire which made the bandits to abandon their ‘Keke’ and fled.
Our crime reporter gathered that an angry mob immediately descended on the tricycle and set it ablaze while frantic manhunt was launched in search of the fleeing marauders to no avail.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of Anambra State Command, Mr. Tochukwu Ikenga, confirmed that they received a report about the new wave armed robbers operating with tricycles and the police would spread their dragnet to nab the culprits.
The PPRO also appealed to members of the public to always contact the police any time they notice robbery attack or the presence of strange and suspicious elements around their vicinity for urgent police intervention.