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Riding on the wave of keke robbery



By Emeka Chiaghanam

EBELE as she identified herself, boarded a commercial tricycle, popularly referred to as Keke at the St Faith Pro-Cathedral Loading Pit, adjacent the Eke Awka Market.            

  Her destination was Umuike Village, Awka. Onboard the Keke was three other passengers. A pregnant lady, who sat to her left, while she was in the middle, and another male passenger sat to her right, another male passenger seated at the front with the Keke operator.

  ”As we approached the INEC polling unit at Ichie Nnebe House, the pregnant lady told the Keke operator that she would alight, but the Keke operator paid no attention; the woman made the call repeatedly, and the operator wouldn’t stop.

  “I intervened but was asked to shut up. The pregnant lady struggled and fell out of the Keke. I tried to follow suit but was pulled back by the man sitting by my right brandishing a gun at me. They asked me not to make a noise or my life would be wasted.

  “I was taken to a bush at Agu Oye, where I was searched and beaten for not having money on me. One of them got angry with me and threatened to kill me for not having a dime on me. A member of the gang intervened that they should let me go. An argument ensued among them, and I seized the opportunity to escape with a battered face. I thank God that I’m still alive,” she said.

  In another incident, a young man boarded a Keke at the Arroma Junction, Awka, going to School Gate, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He took his seat in the middle, sandwiched between two other male passengers. The man was a visitor from Nnewi. Moments after passing the Second Market,Ifite, the passenger sitting to his right raised his shirt, pointing a gun at him. They instructed him to cooperate with him or he would be killed.

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  They took him to a house in Amansea Town, where he was asked to place a call to people to solicit the amount of money they asked since he hadno money on him. He was ordered to do so, in no distress situation or they would kill him.

”Simply beg for money for an emergency,” they told him. After the robbers had enough transfer to their account, through the young man’s transfer, he was stripped naked and videoed in sensual explicit positions to be uploaded online if he dares give any details about them.

  In recent times,there has been reported case of rising incident of Keke robberies and other related thefts activities involving the use of Keke in Anambra State and across Nigeria.

  One of the reasons why the last administration in Anambra State banned commercial cyclists known as Okada in major cities and towns in the state was due to insecurity and robbery. Many people opposed the ban, citing its fast and easy means of transportation, and dangers of throwing many Okada riders into the labour market. But the introduction of Keke even afforded more people employment and society more secure.

  In a twist of events, more robberies take place today than in the days of Okada operators, even more sophisticated and dangerous. 

During a visit to some Keke loading pits in Awka and Amawbia, some operators who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity said they concurred with the reporter on the nefarious activities of some of their members, but there is nothing they can do about that.

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  One of them said,” Bros, them no dey write for face who be robbers among us, until you enter keke, na only God we go pray to protect us.”

Another, said, “Ogawetin you talk na true some of our members be thief, but you know say, sometimes, armed robber dey rob us or even steal our keke from us to rob people, so for that kind situation, wetin you fit talk,” he said.

  A plea from our  reporter to obtain the leaders’ phone number was turned down, and many said they don’t even interact with them much more their contact. Some of them speaking in Igbo said: “What business have we got with them, they are only bothered with money remitted to them.

  Visits to the Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria (TOAN), Anambra State office was met with no success as either no staff would talk to the reporter or the place was under lock.

  A victim of Keke robbery, Mr. Kenechukwu Onwuka, described the rising incidence of Keke robbery as most unfortunate. “When the Obiano administration banned Okada, I was of the opinion that robbery would reduce. But not in my wildest imagination would I have envisaged the nefarious act of Keke operators. They have incorporated kidnapping into it. Something that was rare in the days of Okada operation.

  Mr. Onwuka called on the appropriate agenciesto ensure proper registration for Keke operators in the state. ”I identify one area that can limit this menace and that is proper registration with a database from government and not to be left in the hands of Keke operators, as most towns and cities operate independently,” he said.

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  A concerned citizen by the name, ChigboAnataogwu, whose niece fell victim to keke robbers, raised the issue of proper identification of Keke operators. ” For security reasons, every Keke operator should display their ID in their Keke.This gesture may be small but will help a lot. It gives confidence when you board a Keke with the ID of the operator displayed. It helps to identify the name and some other details of the Keke operator.”

  A security expert, Mr. Nonso Oramalu, wants the relevant agency of Keke operations to issue a standard delineation of routes and pits for every Keke operator in the state.” Security-wise everybody gains from with proper delineation of routes and pits.

  “It should raise security concerns when a Keke is found outside its delineated route. Now, you would be security conscious to board a Keke outside its delineated route and any of such Keke should be detained for questioning. Any act of multiple violations, the operator’ slicence should be revoked.”

  Mr. Oramalu argued that proper checks on the activities of the Keke operation will banish fear of insecurity and create more economic activities in the state, as a peaceful society breeds economic prosperity.

 He equally called on ndi Anambra to be conscious of their safety.

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