Highbrow areas of Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, have been witnessing an upsurge in crimes as many people have been waylaid, robbed, or killed in recent times, Daily Trust reports.
Criminality is turning life into a nightmare for residents and visitors who inadvertently keep to late nights around Abuja’s Central Business District, Maitama, Asokoro, Apo, Garki, Wuse, Katampe, Jabi, and others, despite being the abode of people behind high walls, and tinted vehicles.
Daring drive-by criminals, ‘one-chance’ operators, armed bandits, robbers, and petty pick-pockets are demystifying the fortresses of Abuja’s high and mighty, the rich and the powerful, with such ease that befuddles the observer.
Survivors recount ordeal
On Sunday, February 6 around 6.20 am, Brother Ike was driving to church at the Dunamis Gospel church along Airport Road with his younger brother when his vehicle developed a fault making him park by the roadside to look for a mechanic.
He said as soon as he crossed the other side of the expressway, three men with rifles accosted and bundled him into a tinted Corolla car and drove off.
After driving him around town, the criminals dropped him off miraculously unhurt and zoomed away without traces. He lived to share his testimony the same day in the church auditorium.
But Emmanuel, an accountant in a private firm, was not as lucky. He was robbed on the street on February 3, after he left his brother at the National Hospital, Central Business District, to get some foodstuff at home in Mpape around 7:05 pm.
Emmanuel said as he crossed the other side of the deserted road, he noticed two guys were following him intently but he wasn’t too sure, so he continued to walk.
“The next time I looked back, I noticed one of them was already behind me with a knife, and I was holding my phone and a backpack containing my official laptop, wallet, ATM card, and international passport, he collected my phone immediately.
“Because they had weapons, I didn’t attempt to fight them, so they went with my phone and bag.”
The next morning, he returned to the place to see if the robbers left off any of his items, and he narrated his ordeal to gardeners, who told him they see the activities of the bad boys in the area and pointed to the bush where they normally drop off unwanted properties of their victims.
A life trainer, Solomon Buchi, narrated on his Twitter handle how on December 30, 2021, he and his brother were abducted at Wuse 2 after dining at Kilimanjaro Restaurant.
He alleged that some persons, identified as security operatives through their radio communication, double-crossed his bolt taxi ride and took them away at gunpoint, and extorted them of the sum of N500,000 via ATM withdrawals.
“They handcuffed us and pushed us into the boot. I nearly choked because I am claustrophobic and I had to take a double dose of medicine,” he said.
Umoh Edison (Not real name), was robbed of his two expensive Gionee phones and ATM card at gunpoint at the Central Business District after some men abducted him at Apo Quarters around 9 pm while returning from a meeting.
“After a long meeting with my client, while moving along the deserted, unlit road, a white car suddenly screeched beside me, and two armed men, in trousers appearing like military camouflage, accosted me and started beating me that I was part of some crime around the scene, which I denied,” he said.
After he was let off at the Central Business District, he raised the alarm and dashed to a junction where he found a police patrol team who drove him to the bank to block his account number through the security men at the gate, who helped him contact the bank headquarters and to report the incident at the police station.
“I found out they had already debited my account to my daily limit before I could block it. But I have been able to retrieve my MTN SIM cards,” he said.
“I witnessed a terrifying experience. I don’t wish that on my enemy.”
John Uche (Not real name) recalled how his two android phones and bag were snatched by one-chance operators along IBB Way, Maitama, around 9 pm in December 2021.
“It was a Volkswagen Golf car with four males and one female. As we drove a little from the Alvan Ikoku Road junction towards the National Lottery Commission, the lady started acting funny about her sitting position, the next minute, the man beside the driver started shouting that his hand has been clipped by the door, and before I realized, they have stolen my gadgets and pushed me off,” he said.
“I rushed to the junction where police vehicle is usually stationed to help give a chase, but they were not there.”
Other survivors and witnesses narrate tales of car-snatching and other robbery incidents around Katampe, Minister’s Hill Expressway, Central Business Districts, and other poorly lit areas of Abuja regularly.
Influx of people, lack of proactive policing responsible – Experts
Speaking on the situation, security, peace, and development consultant, Dr Ndubuisi Nwokolo, attributed the situation in the heart of Abuja to the influx of people in the face of banditry in neighbouring Nasarawa, Niger, and Kaduna states.
“The masterplan of the city has been distorted and everything now goes, giving rise to slums around Abuja,” he said.
He said lack of proactivity on the part of the police, and poor design of the touted community policing was responsible for the inability to curtail criminality in Nigeria’s capital city.
Similarly, security risk management and intelligence specialist, Kabiru Adamu, said the “unprecedented influx of people” into Abuja without any means of livelihood, who found residences in shanty towns and abandoned buildings, is a major contributing factor.
He said the security agencies appear to be more reactive than preventive in curbing the menace and lack surveillance equipment, and capabilities even as the city groans under poorly lit streets.
“The continuation of this deteriorated security situation affects Nigeria’s standing in the global committee of nations and affect the inflow of investments thereby denying Nigeria the much-needed foreign direct investment,” he said.
“The way out is to ensure all residents are registered and identified; the same should be done for all professions, take over uncompleted and abandoned buildings, and the security agencies should strategize to ensure surveillance in all parts of the state.
He also called for a city-wide security coverage plan, while the minister should consider setting up a trust fund for security in the city.
Residents not reporting crimes – FCT Police
The Nigeria Police Force, FCT Command, has explained that residents of the city do not report cases of robbery attacks, pick-pocketing, one-chance operations, and many other crimes in the city.
The spokesperson of the FCT Police Command, Josephine Adeh, asked FCT residents to develop confidence in the Nigeria Police by ensuring that security challenges are promptly reported to get quick action from the police.
Daily Trust had in a report on September 13, 2021, exposed how victims of stolen phones and cars in the FCT pay huge sums to the police and tracking companies in an attempt to try and recover their properties, which shows the growing incidences of criminality in the city.
But the police spokesperson said, “I am saying that there is no way police can react or investigate matters that have not been reported. We have our numbers out there, we have our Public Complaints Bureau where you can report the misconduct of police officers to also.
“If you reported and the police officers in that division refuse to take action, you can call that number and report those police officers.
“Nobody has reported, and I cannot react to what has not been reported.
“The media should please help to encourage people to report these cases to the police. If they don’t have confidence in the police before, they should report this time around to the police, so that we can know that there is a problem going on, we will look into it and tackle it.”
Adeh maintained that the FCT Commissioner of Police, Sunday Babaji, and his team are not relenting in bringing the criminals to their knees, saying the Command would ensure all the places mentioned such as Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse, Garki, and other places in the city are made safe for residents to live in.