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Abuja comes under siege from criminals

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Underneath the splendour and serene beauty of Abuja, Nigeria’s Capital City, is a fast growing crime culture that has left many residents living in fear of their lives.
Criminals now operate within Abuja and environs with unbelievable level of impunity and daredevil courage that has exposed the loopholes in the capital city’s security architecture.
It is easy to forget that Abuja is the seat of political and security power in the country going by the way criminals brazenly snatch bags from moving vehicles and abduct residents for ransom. Homes are under siege from armed robbers, ritual killers are on the prowl, while rape has become common crimes.
BusinessDay investigations have identified the notorious criminal hideouts or black-spots to include; Bolingo junction, Banex and Mabuchi junctions, Idu Industrial Estate junction/National Judicial Council axis, National Mosque junction, restaurants, and even some worship centres in some parts of the city.
Not even security personnel are immune from criminals. A Police Officer in one of the police stations in Abuja told BusinessDay that an Air Force officer in uniform was recently robbed.
Criminal activities tend to thrive more in areas without streetlights and during power outage across the territory, security officials have told BusinessDay.
But even at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, there has been a sharp increase in reports of car battery theft which has become a daily occurrence at various car parks, despite the overwhelming presence of the personnel of Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), as well as State Security Service (SSS) and Sergeant-at-Arms. Till date, there is no record of recovery or arrest of those perpetuating the act.
A legislative aide working at the National Assembly told BusinessDay, how his Honda Jeep was stolen at the Jumat praying ground at the entrance of the FCT Minister’s office penultimate Friday, less than 10 minutes after going into the Mosque.
Even of more concern to victims of criminal attacks in the city is the allegation that security operatives often fail to respond or even investigate reports of attacks. Some security officers are also accused of extorting money from victims ranging from N500 to N5, 000 before they could be allowed to give statements. Some also hide under the guise of lack of petrol in the police patrol vehicle(s) to get money from the victims.
Already, the insecurity level is impacting negatively on businesses across the city including; Parks and Gardens, Restaurants as well as small and medium enterprises.
This prompted the FCT Administration to hold a meeting recently, where it mandated its security committee to flush out criminals in the FCT.
Benedict Ibogi, strategist and chairman Anaconda Resorts and Gardens, said the insecurity situation in Abuja has forced his business to invest more in provide security.
“We now inspect vehicles that come in. We are using security gadgets, employing the services of professional security outfit who inspect vehicles and pedestrians. This has helped us in keeping our customers safe”
But another garden operator in Karu axis who pleaded anonymity confirmed two cases of car theft in the last one year.
“In February last year, one of our loyal customers parked his car in front of our garden. Then he got a call from a friend who told him that he just sighted his car in another part of town (Lugbe).
He (the customer) rushed out immediately and his car was gone. We tried all we could but the car was not found. The second incidence really affected our sale because people stopped coming to this place because in this case the car was snatched at gun point.”
“Presently, we have private security guards who man our gate and also sometimes, we have policemen around. So, we are gradually bouncing back. The security situation in Abuja and in the country at large is affecting our sales in the sense that people don’t stay out late for fear of being robbed. The security situation has cut our revenues by as much as 30%.”
Those on the outskirts of the city are even more at risk. Margaret Nyitse, a 33- year -old Lady, lost one of her limbs at 1,000 units, Abujaat30, Pegi, Kuje, during an alleged attack at about 7:30pm, in the estate, few weeks ago.
Narrating her experience, she told BusinessDay she was on her back from an outing at around 7:30 pm.
“I took a bush path from Pegi to 1000 units where I live. Suddenly, I saw a man walking in the same direction, and he was in front of me but suddenly he stopped where there was a growing tree. He did as if he wanted to cut part of the tree, I now passed him. But after passing him, I felt something was not right, so I increased my pace. But as I increased my pace, the boy too increased his pace but I was conscious that someone was following me and suddenly, he was right behind me and there was nothing like bring your bag or your phone.”
“He just started cutting me with his machete and in the process he cut off my left hand from the wrist, that was when I realized that the boy wanted to kill me, because he continued cutting me with the machete, on my arm and shoulder, I was not struggling with him or anything, and he collected my small bag. And I started running for my life towards the main road, and the boy ran after me. But when I got to the main road from Pegi to 1000 units and he saw an on-coming car with light on, the boy ran back into the bush path. Good Samaritans took me to Kuje hospital where I was referred to Gwagwalada Specialists Hospital.”
David Anpitan, who also lives in the same estate also narrated his horrible experience with armed robbers in the same place.
“On the 3rd of January, 2018, three men came to my house at 3 a.m while we were sleeping; the noise of someone trying to remove one of the windows’ burglary woke us up. We saw three men trying to enter the house. They were armed with cutlasses and they were trying to remove one of our burglary windows. I started struggling with one of them. I was trying to defend myself but when he saw that I might overpower him, he called for help from one of the other gang members.”
“While all this was going on, we called the Police in 1,000 units but they told us they were not equipped, they asked us to call Kuje police station, they too said they can’t come because of lack of equipment. We now called the Navy, they said they were in another location trying to deal with a similar incident.
“The robbers were in my house for two hours from 3 a.m to around 5 a.m, it was after they left that Nigeria Navy now came. They advised me to leave the house and rent another apartment,” he said.
In another incident on 3rd April, 2018, suspected armed robbers who were dressed in Army Camouflage raided a Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Tunga-Maje area of Zuba-Abuja and carted away money and phones, amidst sporadic shootings.
But Emmanuel Okeh, spokesperson of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), told BusinessDay that based on reports of increased insecurity in Abuja, the Corps, with other sister agencies, have formed a task force. He claims that this task force has already been deployed to strategic areas like markets, malls, under and overhead bridges to help improve security.
“We have put not just our uniform personnel but also undercover officers have been deployed.”
Similarly, Sadiq Bello, Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, who also confirmed the report on rising cases of insecurity in the FCT, told BuisnessDay that the command in March 2018 alone has arrested and paraded 40 suspected criminals.
“We are doing the best we can with our limited resources, manpower and equipment. We will continue to do our best to serve the good people of FCT as well as Nigerians in general.”
He disclosed that the police plans to expand the Division so that it would have presence in several parts of the FCT.
Jimoh Moshood, the Force Public Relations Officer did not pick several calls to him. Not even a desperate text message which an Abuja BusinessDay staff, who was attacked, last month by the criminals sent to him to ask him to help get his men track a stolen phone that was still being used by the criminals who stole the phone, was replied.
Worried by the increasing levels of crimes and kidnapping, a FCT security Committee said they are committed to stem the menace through heightened surveillance. But Abuja residents now live in fear and desperate to have a safe city once more.

 

INNOCENT ODOH, LAIDE AKINBOADE & STELLA ENECHE

The post Abuja comes under siege from criminals appeared first on BusinessDay : News you can trust.

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