April 29 - May 5, 2019
Is Abuja secured but not safe? A
By Chuks NZEH
peaceful society is critical for infrastructural and human development, as such environment allows for strategic planning and execution to meet set targets. The Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, is home to the political class in Nigeria as it hosts the office and residence of the president and headquarters to several government institutions include all security outfits. Ordinarily this position would require the FCT to be properly secured and be the safest city to live in in Nigeria, yet the pace of insecurity in Abuja, leaves much to be desired. Most times, men of the underworld seem to be a step ahead of the security arrangements on ground, thereby instilling fear on the citizens. The vigilante and intelligence gathering groups set up by traditional rulers with the directives of the FCT administration seems not to be doing enough to curtail most of the crimes at the hinterlands. Even though some communities in the FCT are benefiting from the activities of the security group. Last year during a meeting with district and village heads, the Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, Abdullahi Candido, cautioned the village Head of Tudun Fulani in Jiwa district. The community leader was alleged to have been supporting criminals in his community. Confirming the allegation, the district head of Filin Dabo, confirmed that the activities of the Village head of Tudun Fulani, Jiwa, has crippled several efforts at maintaining peace and security in the community. “I supervised the composition of members of the local vigilante group in the community following the increase in cases of burglary, harassment, bag and phone snatching, and other social vices. “While the efforts were being made to strengthen the security system in the community, Gwadabe neither supported the plans nor made any contribution to the effort. “But within the first week of the vigilante exercise, we successfully apprehended eight known faces in the community who were caught in burglary. After interrogation by the vigilante, they were taken to the police for further investigation and punishment. But to my greatest surprise, these criminals were released few minutes after I left the police station. “I was later informed that their bail was facilitated by the village head of Tudun Fulani on the ground that the woman who buys the stolen items from criminals is related to village head. “Several times has he shielded criminals arrested by the vigilante from facing justice and that has increased the confidence of the criminals in the society to continue to visit the community and other neighbouring communities with terror. “The worst was that he embezzled the community money in his custody. The money was supposed to be used to pay the vigilante officials and solve other sundry problems. These actions led to the end of vigilante services in the community
City gate of Abuja.
thus paving the way for crime.” Cases of ‘one chance’ experiences in commercial vehicle has also been on the rise and so most commuters are now weary of the vehicles they board to their destination. Passengers now take their time to thoroughly assess vehicles and their occupants before boarding cabs because of gory experience some have had in the hands of criminals who disguise as taxi drivers to prey on unsuspecting residents. Earlier in the year a young lady simply identified as Ify, who fell victim to the dreaded one chance, along Kubuwa express road, recounted how she was disposed of her bag containing cash, 2 smart phones and 3 ATM, Cards before she was thrown out of the moving vehicle. The state of insecurity in the FCT has been an issue for some time now and yet to be substantially addressed. One can recall easily that in June 2011, the Boko Haram terrorists took their war to the Louis Edet house of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, in Abuja, where a suicide bomber, detonated a bomb killing at least 6 people and several others injured. In August 2011, the security agencies in the FCT and United Nations Building in Abuja were out smarted by Boko Haram terrorists who detonated an explosive that left close to 30 people dead and several others injured. Also in April 2014, at about 6:45am the dreaded the sect beat the security arrangements and a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at the popular Nyanya bus terminal killing close to a 100 commuters, leaving several others maimed with permanent disability. Aside terrorist attacks, security outfits have also been attacked by robbers who kill and dispose officers of their ammunitions. Just last July 2018 The FCT Police Command confirmed the brutal
attack on some officers who were stationed at the Police Post at Galadimawa roundabout, killing seven of them and a civilian, by Unknown gunmen. Recently, the House of Representatives charged the Minister of FCT, Mallam Mohammed Bello, to urgently provide street lights in all major roads, streets under the bridges and roundabouts with the FCT. The House also urged the Inspector General of Police to hastily deploy more police officers and men to patrol major roads and strategic areas in the FCT. The house was prompted by increasing cases of insecurity and activities of men of the underworld who are perpetrating evil and making the city less receptive and attractive to residents and visitors. As cases of suicide bombings seem to have been checked, the police in the FCT may be facing other forms of crimes. In recent times kidnapping for ransom has been the most lucrative for the men of the underworld. There have been several cases of arm robbery and kidnapping along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway, a staff of Daily Trust Newspaper, recount his ordeal with the daredevil kidnapper on his way to Kaduna after work. The journalist recounted how the driver of the vehicle he boarded was killed on the spot, all passengers of a full bus were kidnapped and made to trek about 50 kilometers to the kidnappers’ den. Their families were contacted and given 3 days for ransom to be paid or the victims be killed. Though he has been released from captivity, not much is known of the fate of other passengers he left behind. Only recently in March, Friday Okeregbe, a staff of Channels Television was kidnapped from Lugbe. Investigations have revealed that he was not the original target but only
stepped into the scene and was kidnapped as a consolation prize for the criminals who came for that mission but missed their target. The recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the security chiefs to deal decisively with the situation, has yielded some positive results. Although Friday and some other luck kidnap victims have been released and some of the suspects arrested, others might not have been lucky enough to have made it out alive. The spate of kidnapping, armed robbery, one chance, petty stealing in the FCT and environs, calls for concern and concerted effort by the authorities to be proactive, especially by enhancing community policing and intelligence gathering. The federal government should ensure that they plan incentives for agricultural programs that can take millions of young people out of the streets. The high level of youth unemployment is the major fuel for these crimes and it should be urgently addressed holistically. Security agencies should as a matter of urgency build structures that would enhance intelligence sharing amongst them and properly coordinate their action plan to harmonize their response to this obvious brutality. The police should also know that they cannot gather intelligence from a society where they are not friendly with the people. The public must have some level of trust and confidence in them before they can volunteer information that can nip some of these crimes in the bud. It is import for the security agencies to device ways of endearing themselves to the populace to access information that would ultimately mitigate some of these heinous crimes being committed randomly.