The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has witnessed seemingly never-ending killings, kidnappings, one-chance robbery and other forms of criminality. As a result, residents have become apprehensive; even as they plead with the authorities to save their lives and properties through being committed to tackling the menace. GBENGA OMOKHUNU reports
Apprehension has become the norm in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This is because of the never-ending cases of killings, kidnappings and one-chance robberies, among other crimes that are reported almost always. The situation has elicited a feeling that the FCT is no longer safe.
Findings have shown that, at least, 12 people were killed and 139 others abducted when bandits and robbers attacked some communities in the FCT in the last six months.
From April to September this year, statistics show that no less than 22 communities, cutting across the six area councils, were attacked with the victims’ relations parting with N126 million as ransom.
Some of the attacked communities were Chida in Kwali Area Council, where 15 people were kidnapped in June, Chitumu in Gwagwalada Area Council, where three people were kidnapped last month, and Kwaku Village in Kuje Area Council, where seven people were kidnapped in April.
The one-chance form of criminality involves criminals who disguise as commercial taxis or even private vehicle operators and pick innocent victims, who they convey to secluded places and dispose them of their belongings, often at gunpoint.
This form of criminality is prevalent in Abuja.
A victim of the one-chance robbery, Mr. Ade Ojo, a civil servant, told our correspondent that, two weeks ago he boarded an unmarked car from NICON Junction to Area 1.
Instead of driving toward the agreed destination, the driver headed towards a secluded place around Jabi, where the hoodlums, who were wielding all kinds of dangerous weapons, robbed him and another passenger.
Ojo said: “They first detained me and the other passenger and robbed us of our belongings. They also seized our ATM cards and tested them with the POS gadget they had, and when it was confirmed, that we had cash in the account, one of them quickly rushed to the bank while the other two detained us at gunpoint. They withdrew all the money we had in the bank before they set us free. It was a traumatic experience; I don’t know what Abuja is turning into.”
A businessman, who spoke to our correspondent in confidence, lost his car to robbers about two weeks ago, in front of a bank in the Central Area of the FCT.
He said it is “better imagined than experienced to lose your possession just like that.
“In my own case, it was when I reported to the police that I got to know that in that particular area, the police have been receiving reports of car theft.
“So, I expected that since they have been receiving reports about car theft at that particular spot, they should not be told before they beef up security around there,” he said.
He further said that “even if they (police) are not going to beef up security, I expected that they can do discreet operations not necessarily going there with their patrol van. They also can mix with people around there in an undercover kind of operation. My view is that those who perpetrate that act hang around that place.”
A resident, Emeka Onu, a radiographer, urged the government to take intelligence reports seriously, adding that beefing up security in Abuja would help forestall attacks.
“I have read and heard the news of the increased killings, kidnapping and one-chance robbery. I don’t think any information on security should be ignored. It should be treated with utmost importance.”
Amara Chukwudi, a civil servant, argued that insecurity in Abuja should not be treated mildly as it could affect the image of the country.
Her words: “It’s disheartening that Abuja, the seat of government, is not exempted from insecurity. One would think that people from other parts of the country should run here for protection; as all sorts of security agents are here in their rank and file. But then, they’re incapacitated and lack the capability due to under-fortification in terms of equipment and technological intelligence.
“We should be able to take precautionary measures in order to forestall impending dangers. It will cost us nothing to protect ourselves. But it would cost us more to be recalcitrant to happenings such as increased kidnappings, one-chance robberies and killings and jeopardise our lives.
Last week, two journalists were robbed of their valuables by a one-chance syndicate and pushed out of the vehicle they boarded. It took the grace of God for them to survive.
It was observed that following the recent development, there have been thorough checks on motorists entering the passport office of the Nigerian Immigration Service located along Dukpa Road, Gwagwalada, National Mathematical Centre, Sheda, along the Abuja-Lokoja Highway, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada.
Military operatives were seen patrolling the Karu-Jikwoyi axis, while there were thorough checks at the army checkpoint at Giri along the Airport Road, Zuba-Kubwa Expressway and at the Abaji-Abuja-Lokoja Highway, as vehicles were completely stopped for a search.
On the increasing level of criminality in the FCT, a private security expert, Ibrahim Ahmadu, said: “These are symptoms of a worse security situation coming,” adding that the police are “under-trained, under-equipped and under-motivated,” to tackle the spate of crime ravaging the capital city.”
According to him, unless a country gets its police right, its security architecture can’t be right. You can see evidence of a complete collapse of intelligence gathering. The police performance is inferior; with only occasional successes here and there. Part of the problem is the over-centralised police.”
He added that “every crime is local and yet, we insist on a central police force. State police have since become inevitable but politics hasn’t allowed us to face that reality.”
Ahmadu averred that the troubling security situation in Abuja can be solved using creative intelligence gathering and incentives.
“Through intelligence, it is possible to understand how the gangs operate and locate their hideouts. They are not spirit,” he added.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command confirmed that there were reported cases of abduction/kidnapping within the Territory which necessitated a swift response from the police.
The police said they have rescued and reunited some of the victims with their family members.
Equally, the Command said it has arrested 11 kidnappers in the past month, adding that the investigation is ongoing.
Some of the arrested kidnappers, according to a statement issued by the FCT Police Public Relations Officer, Josephine Adeh, a Superintendent of Police (SP) are assisting the police to effect the arrests of fleeing members of the gang.
However, Adeh said the figures/numbers in the news getting the rounds are inaccurate and misleading, as it may incite panic in the public.
She said: “The FCT Police Command is fully aware of the news getting the rounds about abducted and kidnapped people in the Federal Capital Territory communities.
“The FCT Commissioner of Police, CP Haruna G. Garba (PSC), wishes to reiterate the Command’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding the life and property of all and ensuring residents of the FCT sleep with their eyes closed.
“He equally advises those circulating misleading information to create the impression that there is a sense of insecurity in FCT are not helping the issue. As a Nigerian, you have an obligation to partner with the police and other security agencies to make the city safer instead of creating trepidation in the minds of the people. FCT remains the safest place in the country.
“Members of the public are, therefore, advised to give information to the police, in doing so you may be saving life and property.
“The CP urges members of the public to promptly report suspicious elements through the following emergency lines: 08032003913, 08061581938, 07057337653, and 08028940883 in addition to the Public Complaint Bureau (PCB).”
Another thing that is fast gaining ground in the FCT is the disappearance of male organs in some parts of Abuja.
About 10 of such cases had been reported.
But the police refuted the cases of male organs disappearance.
He said 14 complainants who claimed that their male organs disappeared were taken to the hospital where the medical doctor confirmed their organs were intact and active.
Garba said: “The FCT Police Command has recorded over 10 cases of alleged disappearance of male organs across the Territory and the escalating incidents of mob action by irate youths. It takes the intervention of the Police Command to prevent the loss of life and property and restore law and order.
Fourteen complainants who claimed their male organs had disappeared were taken to the hospital where the medical doctor confirmed that their male organs are intact and active. Consequently, they were charged in court for giving false information and inciting public disturbance.
“I wish to seize this opportunity to appeal to the residents of FCT to warn their wards and children to desist from raising false alarms. In addition, they are enjoined not to resort to jungle justice or mob action as innocent lives may be lost in the process.
“In the same manner, I wish to advise residents of the FCT to be wary of the kind of vehicles they board. It is advised that they should board painted taxis from designated motor parks. It is risky to board an unpainted taxi otherwise known as kabu-kabu as they may fall victim to these one-chance robbers.
Worried by the sad development, the Minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike, ordered Garba and FCT Commandant, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Olusola Odumosu, at the last security meeting, to tackle the menace.
The Senate last week summoned the Inspector–General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, Minister of Health Ali Pate and Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike over the death of Ms Greatness Olorunfemi at the Maitama District General Hospital.
Senate President Godswill Akpabio described her death as ‘avoidable’.
The deceased was pushed out of a moving vehicle on September 26 by one-chance robbers. She was taken to Maitama District Hospital by a Good Samaritan but was allegedly refused treatment for lack of a police report.
Wike has also launched an investigation into Ms Olorunfemi’s death.
The Mandate Secretary of Health Services and Environment, Dr. Adedolapo Fasawe, last week, inaugurated the nine-member panel.
Fasawe also said the Health Services and Environment Secretariat will begin a mortality review in the FCT health facilities to reinvigorate the process. The panel has one week to conclude the findings.