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Bandits in military uniform abduct 20 in Abuja

Gunmen in military uniform numbering about 50 have raided Dawaki community in Abuja, and abducted at least 20 people, Daily Trust reports. Witnesses said it…

Gunmen in military uniform numbering about 50 have raided Dawaki community in Abuja, and abducted at least 20 people, Daily Trust reports.

Witnesses said it was yet another daring onslaught by the attackers, who they variously described as bandits, armed robbers, terrorists, among other names.

Dawaki, a heavily populated neighbourhood, where thousands of workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) live, is located opposite the Gwarinpa Estate, the biggest organised single settlement in Nigeria, located along the Abuja-Kubwa Expressway.

It was learnt that the invaders, armed with different categories of weapons, stormed Dawaki around 7.30 pm on Sunday, and operated up till around 8.30 pm.

The incident took place not long after kidnappers assaulted Shagari Quarters in Dei-Dei, which is about five kilometres away on the same Abuja-Kubwa Express way, and abducted the family of a Customs officer.

A resident of Dawaki, Hosea Christopher, said the bandits abducted 17 residents from three houses and on the street along Fulani Junction.

He, however, said five of the abductees escaped while being taken towards a mountain in the outskirt of the area.

He said while the bandits were heading to a forest around the Usuma Dam, they were confronted by DSS operatives.

“They immediately opened fire on the security men but there was corresponding response. Despite the fierce offensive by the DSS operatives, the bandits were able to escape,” he said.

Other sources said more than 20 people were abducted.

Abel James, a resident who escaped abduction, said, the attackers “Wore uniforms and had face masks.”

According to him, “But I doubted their genuineness when they started shooting sporadically. As they moved towards the community, I headed into a house under construction and climbed upstairs from where I kept looking at their operation, with gunshots as they were leaving towards the hill.

“We later learnt that two of the gunmen were captured by the security men that included DSS and soldiers who joined them later around the Usuma Dam, where the fire exchange took place.”

A community leader in the area said most of the parked vehicles around Fulani Junction were hit by bullets.

The FCT Commissioner of Police (CP), Benneth Igweh, confirmed the incident on Monday.

He said he led the rescue operation on Sunday around Ushafa- Shishipe through the Mpape hills.

He said that the operation followed a distress call after an attack on some residents of Dawaki by gunmen.

“We advanced towards the assailants, tactically ambushing them at Ushafa Hill via Bwari down to Shishipe, resulting in a fierce gun battle with the hoodlums, which forced them to flee with bullet wounds and we rescued some of the abducted victims,” he said.

Igweh added that the rescued victims were in the hospital receiving medical attention.


Attackers becoming daring

Daily Trust reports that during an earlier attack in Dei-Dei on Sunday, the attackers arrived in the area around noon and went straight to the compound of a senior customs officer, where they picked his wife, three of his children and a younger brother.

“They spent more than two hours before proceeding to the neighbouring Dakwa community. The man used to work in Abuja, with the Police Rapid Response Squad (RRS) car always parking around his house. But they are no longer around following his deployment to Lagos, though his family is still living in the compound,” a source said.

It was learnt that the gunmen later released the officer’s wife who was said to be heavily pregnant, but left with his children and younger brother.

An attempt by the bandits to attack some houses in Dakwa town was said to have been unsuccessful, following a fierce fire exchange with security men, which forced them to withdraw, according to the Chief of Dakwa, Dr Alhassan Musa Babachukuri.

The traditional ruler lamented that the bandits have created a base behind the Zuma Rock in Chachi community near Dakawa in neighbouring Niger State, which leads to some forests around Bwari.

He called on the government to take serious action against the bandits before they escalate their activities.

Residents of Abuja believe that of recent, there is a resurgence of attacks by sundry criminals around the seat of power, after they went underground following serious operations between February and March, this year.

The operations by combined security forces were in response to public outrage following the January 2, abduction of Mansur Al-Kadriyar, a father, alongside his six daughters, when they attacked their residence in Zuma 1, Bwari area of Abuja. 

The Al-Kadriyar incident, which led to the death of the eldest sibling, was followed by similar onslaughts by the bandits in many locations around Abuja.


Estates arm vigilantes

Daily Trust learnt that some estates have started buying Pump Action and other guns for the vigilantes manning their abodes.

Abdullahi, a resident of one of the estates along Kubwa-Zuba Road, said they had vigilantes guarding them for a long time.

“But then, the happenings around Abuja are scary…People are getting agitated with the way armed men are encroaching into the town day and night.

“I think this is why the leadership in our estate sent us a message that we should not be scared whenever we see our vigilantes with guns,” he said.

He said when he was going out for work yesterday, he saw some of the vigilantes well kitted with their guns.

“As far as I am concerned, this is a welcome development because if you solely rely on the conventional police, they have a lot of challenges and they are not everywhere. We are not the only estate providing guns to our personal security outfits, many estates are doing the same,” he said.


We’ve been tasked to fix police vehicle

Mr Adeyemi, whose neighbourhood is under siege, said residents in the area have been contributing money to fix a police patrol vehicle.

“They (bandits) disturbed our sleep with heavy gunshots. The vigilantes that we hired could not do anything because their guns had no bullets. They too ran away when the bandits arrived,” he said.

Another resident said: “We had some policemen in our neighbourhood in the past, but they were withdrawn last year. Because of this latest abduction, the community has contacted the police. But we were told that it is either we buy a patrol vehicle for the police or we repair one of their vehicles for them to come.

“We have agreed to repair the vehicle for them. This is going to cost N900, 000. Each house has been asked to contribute N25, 000.”


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