Lately, residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs have been witnessing an upsurge in crime, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
Crime comes in diverse forms in Abuja, ranging from robbery, pick-pocketing, burling to car-theft, which is another aspect of criminality that appears to have defied the security agencies.
In March this year, the FCT administration’s ministerial task team raided and removed thousands of squatters from illegal settlements in the country’s capital.
Hundreds of squatters were removed from settlements in the green area at Wuse Zone 3 in the heart of the capital city, while their shanties were completely demolished.
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The senior special assistant to the former FCT Minister on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement, Ikharo Attah, said it was unacceptable to have such notorious settlements along the river belt in the heart of the city, where criminal acts are traced to the shanties.
“It is a notorious settlement. To our shock, it is far wider than what we expected as we spent the whole day here. We had to remove everything, all of the illegal shanties. We hope the rate at which criminals come from under bridges and attack people, stealing from them, would be reduced across the FCT,” he said.
On Tuesday, May 9, Jide Olusola, one of Daily Trust’s reporters, had a nasty experience as his vehicle was stolen in front of his new house in Kubwa.
He said, “I parked in front of my house in Kubwa. I had just moved in there, so I was inside arranging my things bit by bit. I came out around 11am to pick some money inside the car to buy drink and snacks. I picked my car key, went outside and behold, I didn’t see it where I parked.”
He said the matter was reported at the Phase 4 police station, Kubwa, adding, “But sadly, the officers were asking me to open a file and it would require money. I have forgotten about it.”
Another Daily Trust member of staff, Abdullateef Salau, narrated how his vehicle disappeared in the Lugbe area of the territory on June 18.
“My car, a 2005 model of Toyota Corolla (Sport) with registration number: KSF167CX, was stolen where it was parked on the side of the street in my place of residence at Sector ‘F’, Federal Housing Authority (FHA), along Airport Road, Lugbe, Abuja.
“I parked the vehicle at the place on June 18, 2023, around 2.30pm and then left for work.
“There are two entrances to my street. Where the car was parked has a small gate through which we access my house and it is usually locked when night falls. And vigilantes are stationed there.
“When I returned from work at 10pm that day, I used another entrance to the street, knowing that the gate at the other side must have been locked by that time.
“Since it is my usual place of parking for over five years, with the presence of vigilantes, I decided to just walk into my house without checking. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the car there the following morning when I wanted to take the kids to school.
“We suspected that the vehicle was stolen in day-time when security around the area was more relaxed. It is a traumatic experience to find out that your very important property acquired with hard-earned money had disappeared without any traces. It is very sad,” he said,
Salau said it was reported to the police at Lugbe station and, “As usual, an investigative police officer was assigned to handle the matter.
“The officer told me that he had done what was required of him, including sending report to the police command headquarters. He also said they would communicate to the Department of Road Transport Services for them to be watchful of such stolen vehicles when registering. Mine is yet to be found,” he added.
On June 27, Saawua Terzungwe, the Deputy Politics Editor of this paper, escaped an assassination on his life.
The journalist said he was on the production desk till some minutes past 11pm before he left office to his residence at the Mararaba axis in Nasarawa State.
Narrating his ordeal, Terzungwe said, “It was actually an assassination attempt. They didn’t demand any money or debit cards from me. Even when one of them ordered me to surrender my car key, their boss was angry with him.
“He ordered them to kill me and forget about other things. But God helped me despite shooting at me severally. I later escaped through the backdoor and navigated my way through a bush path to the police station. One of my neighbours said they were still looking for me in the mini estate and shooting, threatening that they must kill me that night. But I really thank God for saving my life.
“They, however, made away with my car key, wallet and one of my phones when I had already escaped. They picked my wallet and the phone from my car, which I was yet to lock before the attack. They followed me to the gate in a small car. I came down from my car and opened the gate.
“After parking my car, I was going back to lock the gate, when three of them gained entry and confronted me with guns. Their boss ordered them to kill me. But I really thank God, I am safe now. I spent the night in my uncle’s house.”
He said the incident was reported to the police.
Other survivors and witnesses also narrated regular car-snatching and other robbery incidents around the Central Business District, Katampe, Minister’s Hill expressway and other areas of Abuja.
Joy Michael, a trader at the Maitama Ultra-Modern Market, Kubwa told Daily Trust Saturday that, “In the first week of June this year, I was on my way back from the market around 7pm when I was approached by two young guys in the Pipeline area of Kubwa. The area was a bit lonely. They took away my phone and my wallet.
“My debit card was in the wallet. I didn’t report to the police because I felt it would be a waste of time and energy.”
An information technology expert, Tunde Olusegun, who had an encounter with ‘one chance’ car criminals, said he was yet to get over the traumatic encounter, which happened on Tuesday, June 20, 2023.
Olusegun said he was commuting from Area 1 to Kubwa when the incident happened.
He recalled that his attackers were only two in the cab he boarded around 9pm on that fateful day.
“When I noticed that the driver was not picking more passengers after I entered, I asked him why and he replied that he would pick at the next bus stop. When he did not do that, I inquired again, but this time, he ignored me.
“I was robbed of my laptop and mobile phones after I was threatened with a knife. They slowed the vehicle down and pushed me out before Nicon Junction. I was lucky that I sustained minor injuries,” he said.
The impunity with which the criminals operate suggests a more fundamental crisis in the country’s security architecture.
Experts have posited that there is a correlation between the adverse economy and the growing crime rate in the country.
In an interview with Daily Trust Saturday, a senior security expert, Tajudeen Abdulmaleek, who also narrated his sad experience in the hands of hoodlums near the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, said, “The harsh economy has rendered many people jobless. The government in power did not do anything in terms of creating jobs except giving free money, and free money is not always there.”
He attributed the inability of the police to deal with security issues to poor “funding, motivation and welfare package for police officers.”
He lamented that Abuja is porous, adding that due to corruption, the closed-circuit television (CCTV) facilities that are supposed to be all over the city have either failed to function or were never installed.
Abdulmaleek, however, expressed optimism that the current acting Inspector General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, would correct some of the anomalies in the Nigeria Police Force.
Another expert who wished to remain anonymous also attributed the upsurge in crime to poor economy.
“Without a deliberate policy to revamp the economy and create jobs for the teeming youth, nothing will stop these desperate youths who are determined to perpetrate crime to survive. The government must change its strategy,” he said.
Yusuf Muhammed, a resident of Lugbe, told our correspondent that although it was his first time encountering ‘one-chance’, his experience was frightening.
Muhammed said the robbers had threatened to push her out of the vehicle while it was still on speed.
“I mistakenly took an unmarked vehicle because I was in a hurry to meet a friend at the Lugbe Police Sign Board and he was already waiting. Sadly, I was not sensitive to those guys’ plans until we got to the express along Kuchingoro. It was in the night and they had to turn again and start carrying me around and for almost one hour we were on the express.
“I do not have a deep knowledge of Abuja like that. So, it contributed to my falling into their hands. That day, I had N45,000 which I just cashed. I also had two phones which they took away.
“At a point, sensing danger and sitting among four dangerous looking men, I was ready to let go of my money for the sake of my life but not the phones, including an iPhone, were hard to let go.
“They kept dragging and threatening to throw me out. In fact, one punched me hard in the stomach and chest and I became weak. In short, he was about to open the door of the vehicle and when I saw that they meant it I had to give up the fight. I was thrown off the moving vehicle,” Anas lamented.
Nnaemeka Prince, a civil servant, while relating his experience, said he was thrown out of the vehicle after being disposed of his phones and laptop, “but for God, an oncoming vehicle would have crushed me.”
He said: “I boarded the vehicle in the night around 8pm going to Apo Bridge. I met three people at the back seat but we were two that fell victim eventually. When they wanted to rob us, they parked and warned us to cooperate or they will kill us and nothing would happen.
“We were rough handled so much that the only thing on my mind was to just give them whatever they wanted and move on. I had just N3,500 and they asked for my ATM but I was not carrying it with me. Once I don’t have much money in my account, I don’t usually carry it. That was a saving grace for me. They collected the other guy’s ATM and forced him to give them a pin number.”
When contacted, the police public relations officer, FCT command, Josephine Adeh, said residents hardly reported cases of robbery attacks, car theft, one-chance operations and many other crimes to the police. She encouraged residents to develop confidence in the police by ensuring that security challenges are promptly reported.
In a report on September 13, 2021, Daily Trust had exposed how victims of stolen phones and cars in the FCT paid huge sums to the police and tracking companies in an attempt to try and recover their properties, which shows the growing incidents 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 (PCM) where you can report the misconduct of police officers also.
“If you report and the police officers in that division refuse to take action, you can call that number and report those police officers.”
“The public is, therefore, urged to maintain vigilance and report suspicious activities to the police through the following emergency numbers: 08032003913, 08061581938, 07057337653 and 08028940883, while the PCM desk could be reached at 09022222352.
“In cases like car-snatching, we immediately inform all states, our stop-and-search points and radio our borders so that they will be on the lookout. But when they are not reported, the criminals would escape with the stolen vehicle.”
She said the Commissioner of Police in the FCT, Haruna Garba and his team, were not relenting in bringing the criminals to their knees, saying the command would ensure that the city is made safe for residents.