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PURE WATER ROBBERS INVADE LAGOS

By NBF News
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In Lagos, very many things happen – the bizarre, the absurd and the intriguing. As it is often said, in Lagos, anything can just happen. Indeed, Lagos is a city never lacking in things that confound.

That is why when an experienced Lagosian tells you, 'this is Lagos,' you might be mistaken to believe he is showing you the city's high-brow Victoria Island or upmarket Ikoyi and its scenic splendour. The city's growing array of parks and gardens, high-rise buildings, long bridges and unmistakable cosmopolitan character, might not be the issue. Watch out! You are being handed a caveat and told to activate your sixth sense. For you might be in for the unexpected or the dramatic. Someone might be waiting to pull the plug on you.

At a time one thinks that one has fully mastered their many strategies, they come up with some more stunning innovations. And with Christmas just a shouting distance from now, more and more bizarre things are happening. Each one leaves sadness, sorrow, tears and tales of woe in its trail.  Now, believe this because it is true! At the moment, consumption of sachet water, popularly known as pure water, while on a bus ride in Lagos, could be potentially dangerous. A new tribe of robbers is using the product to cast their victims into deep slumber before robbing them blind. Buying a sachet of water, or accepting one in the bus is now an open invitation to be robbed.

Daily Sun gathered that the robbers, who are currently on the loose, are suspected to be working in close collaboration with many pure water vendors at the popular bus stops. They simply target their victims, board the same bus with them and rob them soon after. Once everyone is seated, the pure water vendor-collaborators come in view, to display products. When consumed, the victim is in for a raw deal. Minutes after the water is consumed, the victim progressively becomes unconscious, falls into deep slumber and remains in that state while he is robbed and dumped. Unlucky ones could be abducted and taken to many of the ritualists' dens that dot the city's suburbs and would never be seen again.

For now, this new wave of crime is becoming a nightmare to many of the city's residents. Those who have fallen victim of it before now, have no sweet story to tell. Daily Sun further gathered that this crime is prevalent along the Orile-Mile 2-Badagry Expressway route. The criminals are also operating unhindered at the Alaba International Market axis. There are also unconfirmed reports of the crime along Oshodi-Sango and CMS - Aja routes.

A couple of weeks ago, two men on the staff of The Sun Newspapers, Ephraim Nwosu and Friday Egege, were victims of the crime. Nwosu was returning home from Ajegunle, a part of Lagos when he had an encounter with the criminals at the popular Mile 2 bus stop. He was going to Oluti along the Mile 2-Badagry Expressway when the incident happened. He remained in deep sleep until the following day. He could hardly overcome the situation until the next day; only doctor's intervention restored him to full health.

Soon after, Egege took his own turn. He was returning from a trip to Alaba International Market when he bought and drank a sachet of water. He sat marooned while the journey lasted; the robber took away all he had. However, he managed to reach home unconscious. He too slept all day before he woke up.

Days ago, Sunny Offor, a businessman, trading in electronic wares in Lawanson market, also became a victim. Offor had concluded transactions at Alaba International Market and boarded one of the city's popular danfo buses when he too bought a sachet of water suspected to have been drugged. Till now, he can't make a head or tail of what hit him. He told Daily Sun that it was at Mile 2 that he was eventually dumped like a corpse.

They narrated their stories:
I lost consciousness and slept till next day – Nwosu

It happened at about 10 a.m. I was returning from a hospital in Ajegunle and going to my home in Oluti area. When I got to Mile 2, I boarded a danfo bus, going to Okokomaiko, along the Badagry Expressway. I was sitting by the window side when a young man came to sit beside me. I didn't suspect anything. Soon after, a pure water vendor lumbered across. He hailed him and the lad came promptly. He asked me to assist him pick a sachet and I did. It didn't surprise me when the lad said he didn't have N5 balance to give him. Faced with that dilemma, he said: 'I won't allow this boy to go away with my balance yet again. I have lost a lot of money today; only God knows how much I have lost to pure water sellers in the past few hours.' Then, he invited me to pick a sachet of water. Not suspecting anything, I naturally picked the water, thanked him and drank it.

The moment I took the last gulp, I felt a chill within me. Something instantly told me I was in soup. But I wished that away. A little while later, I began to feel drowsy. Before I knew it, I was seized by a very strong urge to sleep. I fought back to no avail; it kept coming strongly. I was just lucky; Oluti was not far away. The moment I signalled that I was alighting at my bus stop, the fellow began to look at me. As I stepped down, I lost my memory. Till this moment, I can't tell how I managed to stagger across both sides of the busy expressway.

Safe from the robbers, a woman, who knew me so well saw my state and promptly came to my rescue. She shepherded me home. Every one said I was looking very awkward. They said the way I was talking, it was clear I was out of my mind. I was informed that when I got home, I signalled that I was hungry. They rallied for a big bowl of rice and stew and watched me finish it in a record time. I even requested for more. Seeing my plight, some held that I was dead drunk and evidently in dire need of food. But some, who did not know me as a drunk, disputed the claim.

Some believed there was more to my predicament than they could understand and they were right. Then, every one began to proffer solutions to my plight. I was also told that someone instantly bought me a king-size bottle of soft drink, which I drank in one breath to the surprise of every one. Still not being able to make anything out of the situation, someone brought a bowl of water and poured it all over me. Then, they called my wife and asked her to hurry down immediately. I was further told that in that confusion, I fell into a deep slumber. I only woke up in the evening of the next day. When I was told what happened to me, I was shocked and couldn't believe it. It was in the hospital that it was found that the water I drank contained some sleep-inducing substances. It was terrible

I was simply lucky that I didn't go beyond Oluti bus stop. The syndicate didn't know that I wasn't going beyond that point. If I had gone beyond that bus stop, only God knows what next could have happened to me. The police need to do something about it.

I slept off and was robbed of my money, cell phone – Egege

I had gone to Alaba International Market area on that day and was now returning to my home at Ijegun. I was already seated at the back of a danfo bus when a young man stormed in, clutching a gala sausage in hand. 'Wow,' he screamed as he bit the stuff, chewing as he spoke. 'What a hot day; the sun is blazing hot. Bros, I beg, if you sight any pure water vendor, hail him for me; I'm dying of thirst.' Just then, a boy of about 15 years, bowl of pure water on his head, came in view. I beckoned to him and he came. The fellow beside me thanked me for the effort. I reached out and collected a sachet for him and he paid.

Naturally, I felt like quenching my thirst too; so I picked up a sachet and he gave the lad N10 note. So I thanked him. I then drank it, not suspecting anything. Shortly after, I realised that something was wrong. But I could not utter a word as I began to feel drowsy. It was like I was losing my senses. I didn't know when and how I managed to alight at Alakija bus stop. I was in another world. I was semi-conscious as the fellow sitting beside me removed my cell phone and over N5, 000 in my wallet, leaving me with just my ATM card. Till now, I can't tell how I managed to reach home. But my wife said I arrived on a commercial motorcycle aka okada. She said I was repeatedly shouting: 'I was robbed. I was robbed!' Thereafter, I fell into a deep sleep and only woke up the next day.

I was robbed and dumped at Mile 2 like a corpse – Offor

I had finished buying goods on that day in the market. Some one then helped me to bring them to Alaba bus stop from where I was to board a bus to Mile 2. While I was waiting for a bus, I noticed four men of about 25 years and above around me. They were standing apart from one another. One of them circled me in a manner that made me suspicious. But having finished my purchases, I had nothing to fear as I had just my transport fare back to the shop on me. To deceive me, one of the boys helped me to load my goods into the danfo bus when it arrived.

As the bus began to move, a pure water boy sauntered across. I called out to him and he responded. I reached out and collected one sachet and paid and drank it. The moment we crossed the canal bridge after the main market, I started feeling funny. As we approached the expressway around Volkswagen bus stop, I lost consciousness. From that point, I couldn't tell anything about what happened to me. I later leant that I was dumped at Mile 2 bus stop and laid on the ground like a corpse. My goods were off loaded when the bus operators got to the last bus stop and all efforts to wake me up failed. I was found to be deep asleep. The hoodlums had removed my cell phone and the little money I still had.

I lay there for as long as God knows. It was a Good Samaritan who courageously searched me and saw a call card belonging to one of my colleagues. He then rang and informed him that I was lying deep asleep at Mile 2 and urged him to come quickly to rescue me. Then my friends raced down in a vehicle and evacuated me and my goods. I learnt later that I was taken to Randle General Hospital in Surulere. The doctor there, I also gathered, thoroughly examined me and prescribed some drugs for me. Some were instantly forced down my throat. My wife then arrived and from there, I was taken home. I slept till the next day. When I woke up, I was told what happened to me. It was like a scene from a Nigerian movie.

It was later that I learnt that another trader in Lawanson market had suffered similar fate in the recent past. Only God knows the number of people, who are falling victim to this new wave of crime on daily bases. I thank God that the incident happened in the day when someone could still get details about me and contact my colleagues to evacuate me. If I had stayed there till late, possibly ritualists could have made a mince meat of me.

I did not bother to report the matter at any police station. That would mean incurring more expenditure and going through another round of torture. Once you get there, they will tell you, 'we don't have money for biro and paper.' Once you provide that the next thing you will hear is: 'we need money for lunch.'