How Agbowo Became a Den of Theives
by: Matthew Shotola
Agbowo, a neighborhood located directly across the University of Ibadan, now teeming with a colossal number of residents, has become the den of larcenists and butcherers of innocent souls. Agbowo has always been a densely populated community. However, recently there has been an upscale in the number of people residing there. This was due to the deadly virus that swept the cosmos from 2019: the Coronavirus. Thus the leadership of the University of Ibadan made it clear, before students resumed school in the last week of February 2021, that the doors of school’s hostels will not be open to any student. This was done, not out of cruelty to the students but for their safety. As a result, Agbowo courted a huge number of students who could not school from home and thus became an ephemeral hostel for many students.
I am oblivious of how safe or unsafe Agbowo was before the inundation of students in the neighborhood, but one thing remains undeniably obvious – since the massive arrival of students in the neighborhood, there has been an execrable rise in the measure of incidences of crime in the area. Students in Agbowo cannot sleep with their two eyes closed. I am concerned about the safety of all the students resident in Agbowo. It is for this reason that I write this article. Perhaps those in authority will see this and come to our rescue. Students lose their properties virtually every night. Students who do not lose their gadgets to thieves are susceptible to data theft, cyber attacks, social engineering, plus the potential for financial and reputational damage. Apart from the fact that students’ properties are being stolen at gunpoint, a few others have been killed when they resist these criminals.
In addition to all these, female students also stand the risk of being raped. It is only wise to cry out to those who can help curtail this growing menace. It is conspicuous that the olodes (local guards) and the landlords cannot curb the terrorism. How these evil men could enter a gated house and spend several hours doing mischief with no restraint from anyone remains a wonder to me? We need help. We need to be secure. Our parents worked so hard to purchase the gadgets these evil men come in the night to steal from us. We need help. Come over to Agbowo and help us!
On Wednesday, 23rd of June 2021, I was at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Agbowo, to join my friends for the evening service. We used to worship in school but we have made St. Paul our new worship place since the school management disallowed such gathering on campus in order to prevent the spread of covid-19. While I waited for the service to begin, I sought a place to charge my phone. Then I and some others were approached by the vicar of the church – Reverend Canon Adeyemi. The vicar, like a good father, advised us to desist from ending the service late. He mentioned incidences of people who were murdered in Agbowo in recent times. It was at this point that I knew I had to play a role in seeing that Agbowo is restored to its peaceful past. Peace in Agbowo is not unachievable. However, something must be done to cut the sinews of this menace.
Virtually all students living in Agbowo have something ill to say about the security of the place. Temi, a 200L student of the University of Ibadan, living in the Morayo area of Agbowo, shared her encounter with me. Armed robbers have been to Temi’s place twice, even though she lives in a gated house. Temi had been concerned about the security of Agbowo even before moving to the place. For this reason she refused to live in houses save for the one with a gate, with the hope that it will bolster the security of the house and also stymie possible criminals’ visit. Unfortunately, Temi’s house has been visited a couple of times by robbers. These evil men were not only able to enter the compound but were also able to enter the rooms. In their last visit to Temi’s house, they carted away two laptops, several phones, #5000 and they also damaged the house. Temi told me specifically that students in Agbowo live in fear. Since the second visit of these robbers, Temi’s roommate has left the house – never to return. Temi is now frightened to the bone. She hopes that she will be protected. She hopes that she can live safely. She hopes that her dream to become a graduate of the premier university will not be thwarted. She wants to be able to sleep at night.
I make an aside. About a couple of years ago, an unforgettable experience happened to a family very close to my parent’s house. Before the break of dawn one day, we heard people talking loudly. It was a strange thing to hear people talk simultaneously at such an hour. Everyone was curious. “What could be happening?” We all asked. We learnt that a 2000 Toyota Rav-4 had been stolen. The thief came with a master key. He had opened the vehicle with this key and ignited the engine. The owner and his wife knew immediately that something was wrong. Before they could open the door of their home, the thief’s right leg was already on the throttle. They watched helplessly as their car was driven away. It was the last time they saw the vehicle. This incident led to prompt actions from the Landlord Association. They knew something had to be done to ward off any recurrence of such a horrible event.
Another student, a finalist, shared his experience with me. For security reasons, he had asked me to do away with his name and department. I name this student Godwin for the sake of this article. Godwin is back in school. There has been no case of covid-19 since students started returning to school. For this reason, the school has allowed students to return to the hostels. This has made it possible for students like Godwin, who are sick and tired of living in a neighborhood where properties and lives are not secure, to move back to the school hostel. Godwin shared his experience with me. He and his two roommates were in the room one night when some uninvited, gun-wielding, property-snatching, criminals walked into their house. According to Godwin, these men spent close to three hours on their street. Depriving students of their properties with no restraint from anyone. Someone was killed two houses away from where Godwin lived. They killed the guy because he recognized one of the robbers.
A careful reader would observe that I have said nothing about other residents of Agbowo. I did so deliberately because it appears that they are not the targeted ones. The students are. The students who have improved the economy of the place in no small way are now being recompensed with the deprivation of their properties.
A thousand page book cannot contain the experience and concerns of students resident in Agbowo. I have chosen to share the experiences of only a few students with the hope that it will goad the people in authority to attend to our concerns. Having Amotekun personnels patrolling Agbowo and its environs from 6pm till dawn will be a great step in securing lives and property in Agbowo. It will register fear in the consciousness of the perpetrators. It will be a good step in eradicating the menace.
Matthew Shotola is a student of the University of Ibadan.