There have been reports on what appears to be an organised crime against operators of Point of Sales, POS, outlets in some parts of the country. More often than not, the operators do not live to tell the story.
Just recently, about five young men believed to be members of a robbery gang attacked and killed two POS operators in Abia State. There have been similar reports in neighbouring states of Rivers, Imo, Bayelsa, et cetera.
They are mainly believed to be using motorcycles and tricycles for their attacks and mostly in the evening hours. But this is even as most of the POS dealers have made deliberate efforts to secure their business premises.
In some cases, they rob, cart away money from the POS shops or even go the extreme by killing the operators found in those shops.
The case of a lady, identified as Ezinne Grace Iroh, a POS operator, who was murdered in cold blood is still very fresh. She was reportedly shot dead by a robbery gang who came to rob her at her POS business at Ukaegbu road, Ogbor Hill, in Aba of Abia State, on Friday, 29th January, 2021.
According to reports, Ezinne was shot around her chest region at close range. It is believed that she was struggling with the robbers while trying to protect her bag believed to be containing money for the day’s business. After shooting her, they still carted away all the money, collected her POS machine, and left her in a pool of her blood.
Before now, POS business was not popular. But because of lack of jobs and the need for people to eke out a decent living, POS operators have now flooded every nook and cranny of Nigeria’s towns and villages.
Apart from helping people to undertake their financial transactions in a seamless manner, without having to get to their banks, they are also helping the banks to boost their activities. But the operators appear to be exposed to more risks than they are benefitting from the business. Despite the security measures some of them have put in place, they are still seriously exposed and under attacks by men of the underworld.
While a few of the criminal elements who go after the operators have been arrested by security agents, it is doubtful if a tenth of the criminals have been apprehended, as they are still harassing and intimidating the POS dealers.
We agree that POS operators are a part of the larger society. We also agree that even banks sometimes experience periodic attacks in the hands of criminals. But it is our view that deliberate efforts should be made to protect these low level financial dealers who are trying to survive.
It is our considered view that constant police patrol would go a long way in checking the activities of the criminals. Rather than position themselves on the roads and streets to extort commercial drivers, policemen should embark on regular patrols. Once the criminals know that they could be caught by the security operatives in the course of their patrols, there is the likelihood that they would have a rethink.
We also suggest that the services of approved and recognised vigilante groups be employed where necessary. Chances are, that if the criminals are aware that some locals could go after them in the course of their operations, they would also apply the brakes.
Security, as has been said always, should not be left in the hands of the government alone. Neighbours and passers-by should always endeavour to show some concern once there is a security threat to the people around their locality.
Also, operators of the POS business should always be on the alert. They should ensure that they have the phone contact of policemen in their neighbourhood, particularly the Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, so that they can raise the alarm once it becomes necessary.
The country cannot afford to remain docile while criminals have a field day, harassing people who are trying to run their legitimate businesses.