September 5, 2019 began like any other day for the Acting Head of the Abuja Bureau of The PUNCH Newspaper, Mr Olalekan Adetayo. On leaving the venue of an event that he attended somewhere in the Federal Capital Territory, he decided to carry out a quick transaction at the Coomassie House branch of First Bank Plc, before heading to his office.
He parked his car, a silver-coloured Toyota Camry with registration number, LSR 355 AR, in front of the commercial bank at the Central Business District and sauntered to the ATM points, but found out that the machines were out of service.
Adetayo walked back to the parking lot only to discover that his car was no longer there. It had vanished.
“I parked the car in front of First Bank and I went to the ATM gallery to carry out a transaction, but I observed that the machine was not functional. So I left. When I got to the park, my car was nowhere to be found.
“Initially I thought the car had been towed away by officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, but checks at their car dump, which is located at Eagle Square, showed that they did not carry out a towing operation around the bank’s premises,” he told our correspondent.
He reported the incident to the policeman attached to the bank, who informed him that the Police had received similar reports on car thefts within the same parking lot.
Despite reporting the theft, Adetayo has not received any update on the investigation of the incident from the police. Items taken away along with the vehicle include an iPad, hair clippers, house keys and some vital documents.
Another victim, Justina Auta left her Toyota Corolla car, with registration number, MKA 103 AY, beside the Ministry of Health at the Federal Secretariat on September 30 for only a few minutes. When she returned, the vehicle was nowhere to be found. Obviously it was stolen.
Dumbfounded, Auta quickly sent messages on WhatApp, soliciting information on the whereabouts of the car. Looking quite worried on Monday, she told our correspondent that the car had not been found.
A Correspondent with The PUNCH newspaper, Okechukwu Nnodim, also recounted how his car battery was stolen right in front of his Kubwa residence on Sunday afternoon (October 13). “I parked the car outside the building because I planned to drive out shortly after. But on coming out, I observed that the bonnet was open. I quickly checked the engine of the car, only to see that the battery had been stolen. I also learnt that a similar thing happened to my neighbour not quite long ago. The security situation in Abuja is really becoming scary,” he said.
A reporter with BusinessDay newspaper, Innocent Odoh, whose car was stolen on the premises of the Church of Assumption, Asokoro, attributed the surge in car thefts in the FCT to the harsh economic situation in the country. According to him, the government needs to do something about thousands of jobless youths in the city, many of whom, he said, were taking to crime for survival.
On September 14, a routine trip to a shopping mall in the Asokoro area on suddenly turned into a nightmare for Miss Aisha Ardo. She was kidnapped and her disappearance threw her family into panic.
Aisha was eventually freed after her father, a People’s Democratic Party chieftain, Umar Ardo, paid $15,000 ransom in bitcoins to her abductors. Four other victims were also reportedly kidnapped in the city within 24 hours. They include two teenagers returning from an Islamic school at Wuse Zone 6. One of them, Mrs Hannah Azuibuike, was reportedly abducted near Habiba Plaza in the Maitama area. The other victim, a lecturer with Baze University, Jabi, Abubakar Alkali, was rescued by law enforcement agents.
Unrelenting in their nefarious activities, unidentified gunmen on October 7 kidnapped 10 persons in Pegi, a sleepy community in Kuje Area Council. The attackers were said to have ambushed their victims, including a 12-year-old boy, around 8p.m. The gunmen, who were dressed in military camouflage, reportedly shot and injured an officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps before taking away their victims. Five days later, eight of the victims, including a commercial motorcyclist, were released after paying more than N5m as ransom to their abductors. The kidnappers reportedly molested victims whose families failed to meet their demands.
About three days after the kidnappers struck at Pegi, another NSCDC officer and his two sons were abducted from Dafara community, also in Kuje Area Council of FCT. The criminals also killed a member of the local vigilante who ran into them during the attack on Wednesday night.
From the foregoing, it is evident that these are not the best of times for residents of the Federal Capital Territory. The rising incidence of kidnapping and car thefts clearly seem to have put many residents on edge. All of a sudden, Abuja, which used to pride itself as the safest urban area in Nigeria, appears to be under siege from criminals, despite the efforts of the police.
Criminals have in the last three months relentlessly terrorised the city, stealing vehicles from public parking lots, abducting victims at will for huge ransoms and generally making the streets of Abuja unsafe. Assurance from the police authorities, like plaster on an open sore, has not been helpful and adequate to stem the tide of criminal activities in the city. Although various police units, such as the anti-car theft and anti-kidnapping squads of the FCT Police Command have been active, the activities of criminals have not abated, thereby indicating that the security agencies need more intelligence than they are getting.
Commenting on the situation, the Chairman of Pegi Community Development Association, Mr Taiwo Aderibigbe, said the spate of abductions showed that criminals had laid siege to Abuja.
“The truth is that Abuja is under siege. But sadly, some people are playing politics with our lives, which is uncalled for,” he noted.
To buttress Aderibigbe’s statement, for example, one Abayomi Adigun, a member of the production crew of Kaakaki, a current affairs programme on African Independent Television, who was recently redeployed to Abuja, was murdered by ‘one chance’ robbers on September 1. The police reportedly recovered his corpse along the Kubwa-AYA Expressway the following day.
Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway: A favourite spot for robbers
Weighing in on the development, a security analyst, Ben Okezie, said the police need to rejig their operational strategies to manage the security in the FCT. While noting that the Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, was doing his best, the analyst said the command lacked the resources required for effective policing of the city.
Okezie, who was a victim of mugging in the city, said he would have died, but for the prompt assistance of a passerby who came to his aid after he was robbed and stabbed by two hoodlums.
Stating that the security situation in Abuja had deteriorated, he said, “I was oncve a victim. I was robbed in broad daylight and almost bled to death, but for a Good Samaritan who saved me. My car broke down on the road. While I waited for my driver to get a mechanic, a young boy came and demanded my cell phone. I told him off, but he refused to go away. Then his colleague came from nowhere and hit my head with an object. The criminals stabbed me, took my phones and wallet and ran away. I almost bled to death.”
In his reaction, an Intelligence and Security Consultant, Dr. Nwokolo Amaechi, admonished the police to be more proactive, noting that ‘one chance robbery’ had reached epidemic proportions in Abuja. He blamed the situation on the large number of unemployed youths in the city.
Amaechi said the black spots where the robbers carried out their nefarious activities include the Kubwa Expressway, AYA Roundabout, Area One and Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway and Gwagwalada.
He stated, “In Abuja, one chance robbery is becoming a bit alarming. I heard of a DSS officer who was almost robbed by one chance robbers along Kubwa Expressway, but luckily, he had his service pistol, which he fired to disperse the robbers.”
Amaechi, who once worked in the Police Service Commission and the Ministry of Defence, added, “I know a soldier who lost his life at a spot between the Barracks and Suleja because he had money on him. He tried to struggle with the robbers, but they stabbed him to death. Also, a pregnant lady was attacked between Area One and Abacha Barracks. The criminals beat her just to collect her N21,000.”
The FCT police spokesman, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, could not be reached for his comment on what the police were doing to address the situation, but the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had explained that the force was coming down hard on criminal activities across the country.
Speaking during the monthly conference with senior police officers at the Force headquarters last week, the IG said 1,151 high profile suspects were apprehended nationwide between August and September.
Adamu explained that 470 armed robbers, 216 kidnap suspects, 335 suspected cultists, and 130 murder suspects were also nabbed, noting that 231 kidnapped victims were safely rescued and reunited with their families, while 78 stolen vehicles were recovered from the criminal elements. A total of 228 firearms of various specifications and calibres were also recovered in various police operations across the country.
CKN News investigation also revealed that a top officer of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps and his wife are currently being held by kidnapers.
They were kidnapped with their son a week ago at their residence in Kuje area of the FCTaccording to a family member who spoke with CKN News
Their son was released two days ago to go and source for the ransom which the kidnappers pegged at N10m.
Additional Info:CKN News