• Saturday, March 02, 2024
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BusinessDay

Fear grips Abuja residents as criminals hold sway

Fear grips Abuja residents as criminals hold sway
…we won’t rest until bandits are rooted out – Tinubu

The escalating risk of kidnapping have instilled fear in many residents in Abuja, particularly those who usually commute at night or reside in perceived high-risk areas, BusinessDay findings show.

The kidnapping incidents have occurred in various locations within Abuja, including Gwagwalada Kuje, Lugbe, Pegi, Abaji, Keti, and Kwali.

Bulama Bukarti, a security expert said Abuja is becoming one of the scariest cities in the world with kidnappers, ‘one-chance’ robbers and other criminals wreaking havoc on innocent citizens.

“In major junctions in Abuja, criminals and armed robbers masquerading as taxi drivers maim and rob Nigerians in a way that we have not seen before,” Bukarti said on Monday during Channels Television’s Politics Today Programme. “The way to secure Abuja is to take the fight to the bandits and terrorists in other parts of the country.”

Surajudeen Olasinde, a public servant, narrated how his wife, Mistura, and two daughters, Hauwa and Fatima, were kidnapped around the Galadima District.

He said the kidnappers demanded N100 million ransom, but a negotiated N2.8 million was finally paid to them.

Just recently, a suburb of the Bwari Area Council, Sagwari Layout Estate in Dutse, has become known for brazen abduction. On Sunday evening, a group of kidnappers, masquerading as herdsmen, infiltrated the estate, kidnapped eight residents and two hotel staff members.

The invasion on December 24 of Garam community, located just a five-minute drive from Bwari, by kidnappers resulted in the killing of a pastor and the abduction of 13 others.

Bandit attacks on December 28 targeted Kuduru in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) led to the kidnapping of 18 individuals.

Those who spoke to BusinessDay blame the menace on several factors including unemployment and high level of poverty, worsened by elite exploitation of ethnicity and religious differences. Other factors include unabated corruption, porous borders and weak security apparatus.

The challenges of interagency rivalry among the various arms of security apparatuses and Nigeria’s large and porous borders have also made policing of the country a huge task, experts say.

Shehu Sani, a former senator representing Kaduna, pointed to the spillover effect from neighboring states where security has remained weak.

“The deterioration of security in parts of Abuja is a direct result of the paralysis of the security situation in the states around Abuja. Abuja cannot be immune as long as its neighbors are infected,” he said on X.

Although security operatives could not respond to questions from BusinessDay on the rising security concerns, Nyesom Wike, minister of the FCT, on Tuesday summoned an emergency security meeting towards finding a lasting solution to the ugly situation.

The minister, in an opening session, assured residents that his administration and security agencies were not sleeping, urging them to not panic but corporate with security agencies.

He said: “We are all aware of the security situation in the Federal Capital Territory, particularly Bwari and some other areas that we have witnessed security challenges. I am also aware that sometimes too, the Press overblow what is happening but indeed we owe a duty to make sure that FCT is safe.

“We will do all we can and we assure Nigerians who reside here that there is no need for panic. We are taking every step to make sure that those challenges are things that we must have to resolve.”

Wike also warned council chairmen against unnecessary trips, saying they must remain in their councils and take responsibility for issues within their purview.

“This time around, we will not be happy, where Area Council Chairmen will leave their responsibilities and travel out. We have gotten reports that council chairmen travel anytime and then, if anything happens, they will not call anybody’s name except the FCT Minister,” he said.

When contacted by BusinessDay, Josephine Edeh, public relations officer for the FCT Police Command, declined to comment on the kidnappings in Abuja, citing security reasons.

Tinubu vows to eliminate criminality

President Bola Tinubu has sounded a note of warning to criminals and terrorists wrecking havoc across the country.

He spoke at the launch of Femi Adesina’s book, ‘Working with Buhari: Reflections of a special adviser, media and publicity (2015-2023)’, in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said: “It’s easy to forget the role of armed forces. But if the book is carefully read and taught in terms of substance in our various schools, the job of securing every inch of our nation may not be completed but you did a wonderful job.

“And we will not rest, I promise you, until every agent of darkness is completely eliminated.”

The President, who recalled how he removed subsidy, said: “We stopped those people fleecing Nigerians. Yes, I know they will complain. It is same thing all over.”