Lagos is not for the weak: Student edition
By Chukwunonso Obi and Feyisayo Fagbemi
Scientists and psychologists have repeatedly recommended taking solo walks in the evening as good for inner peace. Here you have your thoughts to yourself but it is almost impossible to be at ease while walking the streets of Lagos at night. And for students, nighttime has its perks.
Long walks without the intrusion of the blazing sun, an easy moment to link up with friends, a shield from people they're actively trying to avoid. It's the perfect excuse to let off some steam after being bombarded with activities at school.
However, a survey of student experiences shows that 5 out of 7 students have been either robbed, attacked, harassed, or knows someone who has experienced any of these. Many of these incidents happen daily, regardless of gender with little to nothing being done to curb this growing danger.
According to Chidera, a student resident at Abule Oja, she alongside other residents has gotten so used to constant gunshots at night that they just “move on and act as nothing happened”. The closest she has been to being attacked was her roommate calling her to hurry into the house because there were speculations of a cult clash that night.
Nifesi, another student while sharing her experience, narrated an incident in 2019 when according to her, around 3 am, she and her roommates were robbed of their phones, a laptop, and a digital tablet at their hostel at Abule Oja. She added that one of her roommates had a gun pointed at her.
Irewole, a 300 level student resident at an apartment opposite Konga retail store along University road, explains that although he has not yet been a victim of robbery, he has been constantly bothered by a thug soliciting for money. He found this act strange because according to him: “There's a difference between when people who are less privileged beg and when a thug or an agbero is asking you for money.”
Another student, Faith described her experience from back in 2019 where she was stranded at Yaba around 9pm because the campus shuttle and keke drivers were not in sight. As expected, the bike men had hiked their prices. Trying to figure out how she was going to sort out herself with the 100 naira with her, she saw a face she thought was familiar, only to realise it was a different person.
The guy however continued to follow her and as she got to a really dark part of the road, she prayed he wouldn't strike or go violent. Her saving grace was the sight of two keke’s at the park ahead. In her words, "I japaed for life."
The issue of harassment and theft is however not restricted to being approached while walking on the road. Even in moving vehicles, these rogues find their way to carry out their cruel activities.
On one of these occasions, Godspower who miraculously evaded being robbed of his phone in broad daylight expressed his shock when two Area boys jumped on top of the moving tricycle he was in, alongside other passengers, and was asked to drop some money. Acting on reflex, he smartly tucked his phone in-between his legs and explained that he didn't have money as other passengers looked on without uttering a word.
Silence is a common trait that has been adopted in most Nigerians who witness an occurrence like that. So long as they are not at the receiving end, most people act like nothing is happening. Godspower explains it thus, “They wouldn't want to interfere. They'll just allow it to happen and afterward, tell you sorry”.
These areas in the Akoka axis are home to the bulk of UNILAG students and the records of sad stories about attacks and harassment, happening along University road and opposite the school has a direct impact on the University of Lagos.
The best way to put an end to this is by deploying security officers strategically around the area, and a synergy between the street associations and the police force to ensure the members of these street associations actively carry out their community service by assisting the security operatives.
With this in place, students and other individuals residing in that area can be sure of a safe and secure environment where they can carry out their daily activities during the daytime and nighttime without the fear of being attacked.