9 December 2012

Nigeria: National Hospital Visitors Panic Over Incidents of Robbery in its Environs

At present, the recent attacks on a male staff and a relative of one of the patients on admission at the National Hospital, Abuja, by hoodlums lurking around the environs is causing panic among people who live in the area and those whose relatives and friends are on admission at the hospital.

The road where these people were attacked last week is the only road around the area which is often used by people in the area or those visiting the hospital because it is a shorter route.

Residents of the area and visitors to the hospital who spoke to our correspondent last week expressed fears over the attacks and urged FCT administrators and security agencies to take measures to stop the hoodlums from carrying out further attacks on people because there are no alternative roads closer to the hospital and its environs other than the road which for now appears to have been taken over by hoodlums.

Florence, a staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC], expressed fears over the incidents. She was particularly worried because it's the only road she uses on a daily basis going to or coming back from her office in the area. "I use this road every day. When I'm going to office, this is where I pass as early as 7a.m. and when I close just as you can see now it's this same road I pass through. I must tell you that I'm now afraid of this road, they should just help us to do something about it because there is no shorter road around here other than this."

She added that the road is not a regular route and because of the bush around it, it's possible for the hoodlums to hide anywhere around there to carry out their attacks on innocent users of the road. "As you can see, there are no street lights around here, at times when you are passing you won't see anybody on the road so I think it's because of this that they are carrying out the attacks," she said.

Last week, two separate robbery incidents were reported around the road leading to the hospital. A staff of the hospital who does not want to be named was robbed as he passed through the road which is often used as a short cut to the hospital from under the bridge on Area 1 Express Road. His attackers did not only rob him of his phone, money and other things found on him but they also inflicted knife cuts on him before he spiritedly escaped from them.

In a similar manner, a relative of one of the patients on admission at the hospital was waylaid as she made to link the hospital through the road from under the bridge on the expressway. She was also dispossesed of her phones and other personal effects in the attack.

The hoodlums, according to our findings, lurk around the area any time of the day. They carry out their attacks on people using the road mostly when it's lonely and flee the scene.

A visitor to the hospital who simply identified herself as Jennifer told our correspondent that she was on a visit to the hospital to see one of her friends on admission there. She said: "Well, this is my fourth visit to the hospital in two weeks, I use this road anytime. I'm coming here because it's the closest route to the hospital from the bus stop on the expressway. Yes, the road is lonely, I have never witnessed or heard of any attacks but anytime I passed through the road I always had the fear that I could be attacked because of its loneliness and the bushes around it."

The police last week confirmed the two robbery incidents on the road and promised to beef up security around the environs. But a resident of the area, Ali Shehu, told our correspondent that they are yet to witness police presence there. "No, we have not seen them around here at anytime of the day. But I think people are more vigilant now."

Following the attacks, the hospital authorities called for the presence of security agents around the area. The hospital spokesperson, Tayo Haastrup, also called on the FCT administrators to lights up the area. He said "the light in the area had stopped working for some, time now"

However, the FCT police public relations officer, Doris England, while speaking to our reporter over the incidents, said they have drafted police patrol team to the area to curb the menace of the hoodlums.

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