How I Risked my Life to Save my okada – Robbery victim

Taiwo Olanrewaju reported that the residents of Aromolaran, Old Ife Road area of Ibadan did not believe that armed robbers could swoop on the area at 4.00a.m. and still had a field day as they did on Thursday, 13th September, 2012; attacking two buildings.

In the first building attacked, close to a popular bakery in the area, one of the residents, a shoe-mender cum Okada operator was macheted all over his body. The man, in his late 40s, who was lucky to have survived the attack, had machete cuts on his head, arm, thighs and legs.

The cobbler, who pleaded that his name and photograph should not be published, said he did not know who was after him. According to him, his ordeal started a few months back when armed robbers stormed his former residence and made away with his Okada (motorcycle). Members of his ACOMORAN Unit rallied round and got him a fairly used one in replacement, which had been developing one mechanical fault or the other.

He disposed of the okada for a paltry sum of N9, 000, he said, and was thinking of how to get another one when his wife, who was pregnant with their fourth child went into labour and died after giving birth to a baby girl. The baby also died 40 days after birth.

Thinking that the problems were too many for him and heeding the advice of friends, the cobbler decided to change his residence. That was after one of his friends had introduced him to someone who gave him a new Okada and to whom he paid a thousand naira daily. After five or six months of regular payment, the Okada would become his.

That was the arrangement. He, was, however barely two weeks old in his new one-room apartment when armed robbers struck again.

On that fateful morning, “I was hearing some strange voices in our passage when some men banged on my door and asked me to open my door or else they would make life miserable for me if they had to force the door open. I was in the room with my three children. I quickly opened the door and welcomed them.

“They were four in number, males, who couldn’t have been more than in their early 20s. Two of them were fully dressed up, in pants and tops while the other two had no tops on. But only two of them came into my room. They asked if I could recognise them and I quickly knelt down and dropped my head on the floor asking my children to do the same. After ransacking the house, the only useful thing they found was my okada key, I parked the okada in the passage beside my door. They took the okada key and bolted my room’s door from outside.

“I overheard one of them asking another to collect the okada’s document from me.

So they came inside my room again and asked for the papers. I told them that the papers were not with me as I was paying instalmentally and that until I finished paying, the original document would not be released to me. I did not also have the photocopy of the document with me when the robbers came, so it was a herculean task convincing them that I did not have the papers.

“They turned the whole house upside down and threatened to kill one of my children if I did not release the papers. I cursed and cursed and cursed myself and the day of my birth over and over again before they left us in the room and went back to the passage.

“As soon as they locked us in again, I opened my room’s window and jumped out with the aim of alerting some night guards nearby. Our house has a boys’ quarter besides the main building, so, as I jumped down into the passage of the boys’ quarter, my neighbour, an elderly woman shouted that someone had jumped out and I told her that it was me. But the deed had been done, as the two robbers guarding the entrance ran after me.

I ran with my strength shouting thieves, thieves and scaled a fence but somehow, I fell and the robbers met me there. They dealt four machete cuts on my head alone, followed by my thighs and legs. “Sensing that I could be killed if the matcheting did not stop, I feigned death. But the men of the underworld were not convinced that I was dead, so, they dealt another terrible cut on my arm and even lifted my hand to confirm that I was dead.

I did not know how many minutes had elapsed after the attack, but after what seemed a long time, the breeze blew on me and I moved my body to confirm that I was not really dead. I could not walk but I slowly crawled home,” narrated the cobbler.

Taking up the narration, a neighbour of his, who did not also want his name in print, said the cobbler was rushed to a hospital in the vicinity with his hospital bills totalling N15, 000 after being on admission for three days. The landlords and tenants association of the area was able to raise a donation of N5, 000 and a loan of N3, 000 for the victim.

“I don’t know where to start from. Thank God I took the risk of jumping out and shouting, those guys would have made away with my okada. It was the desperation of not wanting to get into more debts that made me did what I did. It is not as if I wanted to die.