Visibly feeling traumatized, anxious, angry, and jittery Hadiza Mustapha was receiving an intravenous medication in her bed space when her kinsmen visited.
Mrs Mustapha who was feeling violated as a result of the disturbing experience could hardly acknowledge the sympathy offered by her kinsmen who surrounded her.
She was admitted to the hospital due to pregnancy complications and was on admission at Grey Ward in Garki Hospital when the incident occurred.
The sad incident occurred in the early hours of Thursday 31 March 2022 beside Nurses Bay. The suspected robbers tactically breached the hospital security while allegedly pretending to be a relative of an admitted patient.
During the robbery, the belongings of patients from the ward, dialysis centre, and their family members were all carted away.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that it was the second time that the hospital would be attacked in March 2022. The hospital was burgled three weeks ago.
“Don Allah ki yi hakuri” “Keyi hakuri” “Hakuri za key” “Allah yasa mudace”, said some of her kinsmen repeatedly in Hausa language, meaning sorry for your loss, while urging her to take solace in the fact that God will replenish everything she lost during the attack.
Narrating her ordeal, Mrs Mustapha, a civil servant (not real name) said she was not expecting her obstetricians (doctors who specialize in pregnancy and childbirth) at that odd time, adding that she was very terrified when she observed that the hospital had been invaded by burglars.
According to her, “I was not slated for injection or treatment at that time of the night. So, I was not expecting any medical expert at that time. Immediately I saw one of the burglars. I became very jittery and pretended I was sleeping because I don’t have the strength to face them. They carted away my phone, money, and other belongings inside my bag.
“When the burglars left, I observed that my handbag was already scattered. The burglar that came into the ward unzipped and stole all the valuable contents inside the bags. My mobile phone was also taken. I quickly rushed out and asked a patient who was next to me in the ward if she noticed any movement or anybody and she said yes, she did.”
Speaking further, she said the hospital security operatives told her that she was captured by the CCTV camera walking in and out of the hospital, adding that immediately the burglars left the Grey Ward, they rushed to the parking lot and drove off.
She averred that she was surprised that such an incident can happen inside a hospital that is located in the city centre of the nation’s capital.
She continued: “I keep imagining how someone can confidently walk into a hospital and cart away the properties of patients at that odd time without being interrogated carefully by the hospital’s security operatives.
“I was very terrified. They can steal babies here or even kill someone. I could not raise the alarm that I was under attack because the burglar was armed. I was scared of my life. Sequel to my condition and because the burglar was fully prepared.
“I was also told that the burglar went to the Dialysis Ward and cart away their phones and belongings before she left without being interrogated by the security operatives.”
At the moment, she said she will proceed to retrieve her SIM by doing a welcome back to retrieve her SIM card.
She stressed that she felt so pained losing her phone, money, and other valuables.
“The hospital security operatives came to meet me earlier at 6:30 am, the same day the incident occurred and I explained to them what transpired. However, I am yet to get feedback from them,” she added.
Corroborating Mrs Mustapha’s claims, a patient in the Dialysis Ward, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Weekend on the condition of anonymity explained that it was unthinkable that ae could be burgled inside the hospital which is located at the heart of the nation’s capital.
The victim while narrating his ordeal on how he was burgled said he was fast asleep when the burglars came in.
“Sadly, I have to lose my phone and other valuables in the hospital,” he said.
He urged the security operatives in the hospital to brazen up.
How the syndicate defrauds patient’s account with SIM
While phone theft is on the rise in Nigeria, a more worrisome dimension is that some of the thieves are more interested in the SIM cards of their victims, not even the phones.
LEADERSHIP Weekend investigation shows that after burglars steal the phones of their victims they sell the SIM cards to hackers. The hackers easily gain access to SIM cards, and hack into their personal and confidential information such as Bank Verification Number (BVN), and banking details via sending shortcodes requesting for BVN number.
When a syndicate described as ‘’Digital Thieves’’ led by one Muritala Mohammed alias (swallow) was paraded recently he noted that once they gain access to the BVN of victims, they proceed with other hacking tricks using other computer applications.
He said he has mastered hacking data from Access Bank, UBA, and GT Bank. He further said the computer application easily provides the account number and account name of the SIM card.
Mohammed said if he confirms the money in the victim’s account they generate a transfer code and transfer the money to another suspect Ali Hassan whose job is to provide other account numbers for the transfer.
He also explained that he can also get random account numbers from unsuspecting members of the public where he transfers the money into their accounts.
CSO confirms invasion
The chief security officer, Garki Hospital, Alex Goji who confirmed the incident said the CCTV video footage shows that the suspect, who is a lady, gained access to the hospital premises by pretending that she was a patient.
In Garki Hospital, we take a zero-tolerance approach to theft and treat all such offences with the utmost severity,” he said. He noted that they are currently working closely with the police to support their investigation.
“A suspect came into the hospital. She was a lady who pretended to be a patient, she took their bags and money. She did not only burgle the Grey Ward, but she also went to the Dialysis Ward,” Goji said.
He noted that the security operatives in the hospital always ensured that all doors are closed at odd hours.
He, however, said the doctor on call forgot to close the door, perhaps in an emergency.
“Same thing downstairs a cleaner was on duty but she had no ground,” he said.
The CSO said that he has informed all the victims and affected patients to come along with their SIM packs so that they can commence an investigation to track the burglars.
“Three weeks ago, a burglar also maneuvered the security operatives and pretended to be a relative of a patient and carted away phones of patients. But, we were able to track her and retrieve the handset.
“We also told the patients to quickly inform their bankers to block their account number,” he said.
Goji noted that the attackers are syndicates who network amongst each other.
“The attackers are syndicates who network amongst themselves. From the findings and information, we gathered, they do go to National Hospital and Asokoro Hospital.
“We do communicate with other security operatives in Abuja. We are fully on the ground and beefing up security. We have also placed our surveillance.
“Most of the burglars are women. She even collected cards like other patients. We can not embarrass patients. So, we are also courteous. We looked at the camera. The footage shows that she also acted as a relative of a patient during a burglary attack.
“They steal and eat patients’ food as well as other consumables,’’ he added.
An ideal hospital environment
A security expert, Samuel Ugobo noted that theft can be an issue in hospitals. He decried the rise and incessant attacks on hospitals in the nation’s capital.
Ugobo noted that it was sad that cases of repeated burglary attacks will be recorded across major hospitals in the FCT.
“This record is not good for the nation’s capital amid growing insecurity in the country,” he said.
He advised patients not to bring valuables such as jewelry, lots of money, or valuable personal items while coming to the hospital.
The security expert said It is okay to bring a small amount of cash or change for newspapers and other small necessities.
He, however, urged patients and caregivers to only bring along only essential items that are needed during the stay.
He said, “If patients are admitted to hospital through the emergency department, it is apt for you to ask a friend or relative to look after your valuables while you are being treated and to take them home. It is pertinent for hospitals to start accepting valuable items for storage in a safe after patients who are in an emergency have been formally received in the hospital.
The security expert also urged patients to clearly label all their belongings