As Christmas season approaches, robbers disguised as tricycle operators, otherwise known as keke drivers have resurfaced in Imo State
‘One-chance’, as they are called in Owerri, are commercial tricycles used by robbers where the operator and a member of his gang disguise as driver and passenger. Unsuspecting commuters, mostly women, who get on such keke are hypnotised and robbed of all their valuables.
Some of the victims of the one-chance robbery in Owerri, who spoke of the activities of ‘one-chance’ keke operators said they were dispossessed of between N85,000 and N250,000 in addition to other valuables.
The new wave of one-chance operators in the state, it was gathered, is more rampant on the IMSU Junction/Okigwe Road, Wetheral Road and World Bank axis of the state capital, an act many attributed to the ember-months when people usually go out to make money at all costs for Yuletide celebrations.
As a result, hardly does a day go by without residents coming to the aid of victims, who were robbed of their possessions especially heavy amount of money belonging to other people.
According to one of the victims who sold fruits in front of the All Progressives Congress, APC, state secretariat, said she ran into the one-chance keke on her way to the Relief Market to re-stock her wares.
The victim, who spoke to our reporter on the condition of anonymity, said “I boarded the keke from IMSU Junction here and one guy was already inside it. So on our way, the keke man picked another guy making us three passengers. Soon afterwards, one of the passengers came down at Government College and paid the driver in dollar and left”.
She added “It was then that the keke driver showed me the money, telling me that the guy looked like a foreigner. I told him to give back the money or take so that I can get to where I was going to. He called back the guy and that was all I can remember that happened.”
The victim said she was dispossessed of N85,000 with which she was going to the market, her phones and her handbag.
It was also the same story for another victim, Sandra, who was robbed of N250,000 by the same people. According to the victim who assists in her aunt’s shop at the IMSU Junction shopping plaza opposite Amanda Hospital, she boarded the keke and soon afterwards one of the occupants alighted and paid the driver with a dollar note.
“This provoked the keke man who told the young man that this is not the currency we use in Nigeria. The guy begged him to accept the money and that he just came from outside Nigeria and that he only had dollars on him. His English was badly disjointed. With this, I actually felt he is a foreigner. So I told him to go to Ama Hausa to change the money to naira.
“It was then he started begging me to assist him so that people will not rob him. Initially, I declined, but he insisted that I help him. I agreed and told him that that would be possible only when I finish my transactions. That was all I can tell about them. I don’t know how they made me collect the N250,000 my aunt just brought from the year-long thrift”.
For Oluchi, a staff of Ebere Links Filling Station, Item Street, Ikenegbu Layout, Owerri, she was dispossessed of about N200,000.
Oluchi, who was still in detention as at the time of filing this report, was said to have returned to the station and went straight where the money was kept and took it to the gang, with the hope of getting hundred folds of the amount given out in a few minutes.
According to her colleagues, she was deceived by the keke man and his passenger who pretended to be a foreigner.
The Imo State police spokesman, Andrew Enwerem, could not answer his call nor respond to message sent to his phone by our correspondent who was trying to confirm the incidents.
However, the deputy state commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Ade Atunde Michael, told newsmen recently that the outfit was aware of the return of the hoodlums in the state.
He, however, assured residents of their security and safety at all times; adding that the city was under security surveillance by his men as well as other security agencies in the state.