LAGOS residents have expressed worries over the increasing use of minibuses, popularly known as Korope, for kidnapping and armed robbery in the state.
According to residents, the vice increased after the ban of Okada in parts of the state, where motorcycles were often used to rob citizens.
A resident told The Guardian that suspected kidnappers disguising as commercial bus operators, recently brutalised his wife, in what could be described as a failed kidnap attempt.
According to him, the incident occurred on Tuesday, June 28 around Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, after she boarded the minibus at Sandfill Bus Stop in the Lekki axis.
Also, on June 7, a journalist escaped by whiskers when men in a minibus tried to kidnap him.
The kidnappers operate in a group of three, made up of two passengers and a driver.
Also, in March 2022, a young lady, Grace Ogbonnaya narrated how she escaped being kidnapped on her way to work. She said after having a conversation with the driver, she sensed damage.
However, when she noticed foul play, she screamed at the top of her voice and started banging on the door of the vehicle, which made the kidnappers speedily unlock the door for fear of drawing attention, and she seized the opportunity to escape.
Similarly, in June, a 16-year-old secondary school leaver, Mayowa and two young girls boarded a mini-bus with another passenger going from Jakande Estate to Cele Bus Stop. After the bus took off, two other passengers entered, disguising to be going in the same direction.
When the bus got to Okota area, one of the girls told the driver that she wanted to alight, at that point, the men brought out guns and ordered the passengers to face the floor or get killed. They were blindfolded and taken to an uncompleted building around Mile 2, where they also saw two other victims tied.
One of the girls was ordered to transfer the sum of N200,000 in her account to the abductors before she was released, while another girl was asked to call her family who sent N150,000 before she was released. The other boy called his family who transferred N250,000 to a UBA account 2133093412 with the name ABEL MICHAEL ODIETE, before he was released at about 1:00 a.m. and taken to Cele Bus Stop.
A family friend who narrated the incident said the case was reported to the Lagos Police Command.
“I called the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) before we paid the money, but I haven’t heard anything on the case,” he said.
Responding, Lagos State Commissioner of Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, said: “I am not aware of the use of mini-bus for kidnapping or robbery, but all buses are supposed to be registered as long as they operate in Lagos. We have the records of all of them.
“The ones that are not registered are illegal. So, enforcement will ensure that the operators are caught and prosecuted. Illegal buses should not be on the road and that is why we installed 22 cameras for that purpose.
“In what we call the intelligent transport system, we have cameras in some of our buses, Lagdrive, Lagos is implementing 300 fibre optic cables where we are implementing 2000 cameras that will enable the state monitor what is happening at various locations.
“We have systems that locate where each bus is so if they are out of the designated area they can be picked up.
“There is so much technology we are implementing through the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Lagos Bus Limited (LBL) and Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA). When the rails come on board we will have the security cameras on them too. So, we are security conscious and such an initiative is coordinated in such a way to manage what is happening in our public transport system.”
Also, Lagos State Police spokesperson, Superintendent of Police (SP), Benjamin Hundeyin, said: “We have not got any report of kidnappers using korope.
“There are pockets of ‘one -chance’ reported in the state and it has not got to an alarming stage where we have to set up a committee with the Ministry of Transportation to look into it. Maybe one in Maroko, another in Ajah, just pockets of the incident. For now we are tracing cases on an individual basis.
“ Recently, we arrested some one-chance operators inside a Corolla, they robbed a lady and pushed her out.”