At least 12 people were killed and 139 others abducted when bandits and robbers attacked some communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the last six months.
This is even as the popular One Chance gangs are fast returning and terrorising commuters on the roads.
From April to September, available statistics show that not less than 22 communities, cutting across the six area councils, were attacked with the victims paying N126million as ransom.
Some of the attacked communities included Chida in Kwali Area Council, where 14 people were kidnapped in June, Chitumu in Gwagwalada Area Council, where two people were kidnapped last month, and Kwaku village in Kuje Area Council, where five people were kidnapped in April.
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Also in April, the attackers visited Kasada village, Kuje Area Council and kidnapped six people. Thirteen people were also kidnapped in Ggau village, Gaube ward, Kuje Area Council. And in Yewuti village, Kwali Area Council, 29 people were kidnapped.
At 1,000 Housing Estate, Pegi community in Kuje Area Council, 15 people were kidnapped in May, and in Yangoji community, Kwali Area Council, five people were abducted. There were other incidents in other area councils within the period.
Fear grips residents as they abandon villages, send SOS to Wike
Reports also indicate that some some areas in the city centre have also withnessed an increase in attacks.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the situation has thrown many residents into panic, with many of them relocating from one village to another.
Most of the rural farmers can no longer access their farmlands, even when some of the produce is due for harvest.
In Bwari, some locals in remote villages that are prone to attacks, like Tokulo, Gaba, Kawu, Piwoyi, among others, are relocating to Bwari town.
Many villagers in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Kuje and Kwali are also fleeing their homes to safer towns, abandoning their farms.
Some of the residents who spoke with our reporter called on the FCT minister, Nyesom Wike to intervene.
Mr Toyin Ajayi said he had no doubt that the minister, a former governor of Rivers State, would make a change, and pleaded with him to wade into the increasing security concern without further delay.
He said, “I know he knows what to do, and no one can mess around him. He is a no-nonsense man. He should please intervene, it is so serious.’’
One of the residents narrated how a man, identified as Ramos was shot dead on September 10 by suspected armed robbers at Dutse in Bwari Area Council.
When Daily Trust Saturday visited the house of the deceased at Fo1 in Kubwa, Abuja on Tuesday, most residents were reluctant to talk about the incident.
However, Ahmed Salihu told our reporter that, “Ramos was returning from a nightclub in a cab when the incident happened. The cab driver was also shot, but he survived. They were both rushed to the hospital, where Ramos was confirmed dead by doctors. The driver is currently nursing severe injuries.”
A security guard at the house, Jibrin Baba, said, “As you can see, the house is empty, his corpse was moved to Adamawa State this morning for burial. If you had come earlier, you would have met his family members. I don’t have much information. I started working here a few weeks ago.”
Daily Trust Saturday reports that a retired primary school teacher, Barnabas Musa and his 6-year-old son were recently abducted by kidnappers at Gumbo village in Kwali Area Council.
Speaking with our reporter, Ishaya Musa, a relative of the victim, said the incident happened two weeks ago.
Musa said the kidnappers later freed the victim after collecting N5million ransom while holding on to his son and asking the family to raise an additional N3million before he was released.
“It was last Thursday that the man was released after the family struggled to raise N5m, including the purchase of foodstuff and drugs. They are now asking the family to raise another N3m before his son would be set free,” he said.
He said the family had to sell some valuable items and borrow some money to raise the N5m ransom, and appealed to security agents to come to the aid of the family in rescuing the victim’s son.
In a similar development, on September 11, robbers numbering 10 stormed Annex Estate in the Chikakore area of Kubwa.
During the attack, which happened around 1am, a security guard, Eze Okere, who sustained injury from a gunshot, was rushed to Kubwa General Hospital.
When our reporter visited him at the hospital, Okere said, “The incident happened on Monday night when it was raining. I was the only one at the entrance of the estate because my other colleagues had gone on patrol. As soon as I saw the guys numbering 10 with guns, I quickly ran into the security guards house and locked the inside, but they noticed and forcefully opened the door.
“One of them aimed the gun at my chest but I used my hand to change the direction of the bullet, which was targeted at my chest and it hit my hand. Immediately they shot me, they tied me up and went to rob people in the estate. The police came after they had finished the robbery.”
It was gathered that the robbers only attacked a house.
The wife of the owner of the house, Ronke Akinwole, said the robbers took away gold worth N3m, five phones (four iPhones and a Samsung), and N1.1m cash.
‘One Chance’ criminals on rampage
Criminals using unpainted taxis to rob unsuspected commuters are now on rampage in Abuja, our investigations revealed.
The criminals, who often load themselves in a car, leaving a chance for their victim, usually operate along the roads, claiming to be transporters.
A resident, Umar Tijani, explained that they often pick up unsuspecting commuters along the road, drive off and dispossess them of their belongings.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that a journalist in Radio Nigeria, Remi Jonshon, was on Wednesday picked up by the gang, and after some minutes of driving, they beat her up, inflicted injuries on her and disposed her of her belongings. Her husband said she was rushed to the hospital.
Another resident, Muinat Jimoh, said she boarded a car belonging to the gang unknowingly at Berger bus stop around 7pm and when they reached the Tipper Garage area, she was beaten, robbed and dumped by the roadside.
“They collected my ATM card, forced me to disclose my pin and they used the card to empty my account with a POS machine they were holding,’’ he said.
Our reporters observed that apart from the One Chance operatives, there are many dark spots within the city centre where residents are attacked on a daily basis.
A resident, Chioma Joseph, said it was risky to pass through areas like Mabushi, Central Mosque, Galadimawa roundabout, among others as soon as it is 8pm.
“I was a victim. Those boys hanging around in some of these places are looking for who to attack. They attacked me at the National Mosque area. At that potion where you have to drive slowly, they came out from the nearby bush, broke my side glasses and took a away my bag containing my computer, phones and ATM cards. I was scared and had to drive fast,’’ she narrated.
Similarly, Mistura Olasinde, a resident of Galadima and her two daughters, Hauwa and Fatima, got the shock of their lives when they were attacked on Friday, September 8.
The victim’s husband, Surajudeen Olasinde, told our reporter that the incident happened around Galadima district.
Narrating the ordeal, Olasinde said, “Their abduction happened around 7pm last Friday on their way from Garki. Immediately they reached Kabusa Garden Estate at the spot where the road is terribly bad, the kidnappers came out from the nearby bush and attacked them.
“They started shooting to scare people away before they marched them into the bush. I was not in Abuja when it happened. But I was told that the police and the vigilantes searched the bush all through 3am on Saturday without success.
“We also contacted officers of the State Security Service (SSS). They tracked the kidnappers’ movement and the search got to a forest in Kuje.
“They asked for N100m. Later, they brought it down to N50m, then N10m. But at the end of the day, they asked us how much we had. They even told us that if they killed my wife and my two daughters they could sell their body parts above whatever amount we claimed to have.
“We were able to raise about N2.8m and they directed us to bring the money around 8pm on Saturday. They told us to go to Kabusa village and pick any commercial motorcyclist to a place where we did not know.
“My brother-in-law and I climbed the same bike to deliver the ransom. When we got to the thick forest where they were, they came out and collected the ransom. We gave them N2.8m.
“It took about 40 minutes before my wife and daughters got to the point where we waited for them.”
Police warn FCT residents against boarding unpainted taxis
The FCT police command has advised residents to be wary of unpainted taxis, otherwise known as ‘kabu-kabu,’ to avoid becoming victims of ‘One Chance’.
The commissioner of police in the FCT, Mr Haruna Garba, who gave the warning said, “It is risky to board unpainted taxis.”
Garba said that while on a crime prevention patrol, police operatives rescued one Ebere Alice who boarded a Golf car and was robbed by the driver and his gang members before dropping her off.
He said the police gave the hoodlums a hot chase, halted the vehicle and arrested three suspects.
“They include Sylvester Attah, the gang leader, who has been into One Chance robbery for the past three years, Olalekan Salihu and Gabriel Okwashi.
“The suspects confessed to the crime and the Golf car with registration number,TKP 624 AA used in committing the crime was recovered. The suspects will be arraigned in court at the conclusion of investigation,” he said.
Garba said that police operatives from Mabushi, acting on a credible intelligence, also arrested one Samuel Vincent, a member of a gang that specialises in robbing unsuspecting taxi passengers of their belongings.
“The suspect was about to be lynched by an angry mob before police intervention.
‘’The suspect, alongside three others currently at large, had picked a woman (name unknown) from Karmo heading to Lugbe but they diverted the vehicle to Mabushi area and dispossessed the victim of her belongings.
“The suspect confessed to his involvement in the crime and the car used in perpetrating the crime has been recovered. The suspect is cooperating with the police on how to apprehend others,” he said.
He also explained that police operatives from Mabushi Division, acting on credible intelligence, trailed and arrested four other suspected armed robbers.
He said the suspects included Oluwatobi Precious (an ex-convict), Theophilous Elkana, Ibrahim Usman and Umar Ibrahim, an ex-convict.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspects robbed motorists of their phones while in traffic jam around Mobil filing station, Mabushi and zoomed off in a getaway Golf car.
“The suspects confessed to the crime, while the said Golf car with registration number, DKA 288 RY, grey in colour, an iphone 14 Pro Max and several ATM cards bearing different names, and substances suspected to be cocaine were recovered from them,” Garba said.
He said that police operatives from Lugbe Division, acting on actionable intelligence, arrested one Emmanuel Abraham, also known as ‘Mosquito’, a wanted and notorious armed robber/cultist linked to various cases of armed robbery/culpable homicide and other cult activities within Lugbe and environs.
“The suspect, whose cohorts are presently in prison for robbery of one Mrs Abiodun Okunde, since October 29, 2020 will equally be arraigned in court at the conclusion of investigation,” he said.
Garba said that the police operatives from Kabusa Division trailed and arrested one Adamu Idris, also known as Idi, a wanted and notorious kingpin responsible for series of kidnapping around Galadimawa/Apo, Lokogoma and Kabusa axis.
“The suspect, who took to his heels when he was sighted at Okada Junction, Kabusa, was given a hot chase and apprehended by police operatives.
“During interrogation, the suspect confessed to being a member of a 5-man gang. Other members of the gang are currently at large,” he said.
Garba said the suspect was cooperating with the police to apprehend other gang members and would be charged to court soon.
In a similar development, on September 21, 2023, one Abubakar Usman reported at Kabusa division that two persons later identified as Auwal Wada and Suleiman Hassan of Galadimawa village threatened to kidnap him and his entire family if he failed to offer them N7m.
“However, an agreement was reached that he would pay N5million. The police operatives from Kabusa laid a siege at the point of collection in a bush around Shereti village.
“The two suspects emerged to collect the ransom and were promptly arrested.
“This has been the modus operandi of the suspects as they have successfully robbed their victims in the past. The suspects will be arraigned in court soon,” he said
Garba said the police operatives from Mabushi also carried out a raid of criminal hideouts at Gishiri village and a total of 36 bags of dried leaves suspected to be Indian hemp were recovered.
“In the same operation, one Bello Ahmed, also known as Wizzy Bola, a notorious and wanted armed robber terrorising Gishiri village and its environs, was arrested,” he said.
According to Garba, all the suspects will be arraigned upon the conclusion of investigations.
‘Why kidnapping for ransom is increasing’
In a recent interview with our reporter, a 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.
The national coordinator, National Counterterrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Rear Admiral Yaminu Musa (retd), said kidnapping for ransom had become a means for terrorists to fund their activities.
Speaking in Abuja last Wednesday during an ‘Anti-Kidnap Multi-Agency Fusion Cell Media and Communication Workshop’, organised by ONSA in collaboration with the British High Commission, Musa said, “Kidnapping for ransom is also identified as one of the means of funding terrorism. Thus, carnage unleashed by kidnappers, and in affiliation with terrorist groups all over the world, leading to loss and disruption of lives and properties, is a major concern; hence the need for collective efforts in advancing measures to check the threat.”
The spokesman of the State Security Service (SSS), Peter Afunanya, blamed kidnapping on political, economic and ideological factors.
“Also, there’s disorientation in family values. The family as the most important aspect of the society has broken down. Cultural values have also disappeared,” he said.
Afunanya said the SSS had established a special unit to tackle kidnapping.
The spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force, Olumuyiwa Adejobi also said, “Kidnapping has dimensions – some are kidnapped and set free after payment of ransom while some victims are killed after ransom.
“There is a dimension whereby a victim is kidnapped, his abductors collect ransom and kill him and still negotiate before the corpse is released?
“We need to break the conspiracy of silence. We need to talk to our people to expose them. Kidnappers hide amongst our people and have their hideouts in communities. Our law should be strict about this.”
FCTA rolls out measures to check insecurity
Upon resumption as FCT minister, Wike promised to work with security architectures and support them with the necessary facilities that would enable them perform their work creditably.
He warned that after such support, the administration would not take excuse from them.
He also met with some traditional chiefs and gave them vehicles to aid their duties, saying it was paramount to ensure security in their domains.
In August, Wike reaffirmed the ban on street trading in Abuja, saying such people also aid insecurity and criminalities in the nation’s capital city.
He said, “Street trading is prohibited. People selling corn will drop their waste indiscriminately and these are the things that cause insecurity. Criminals come to buy and use the opportunity to spy and give information to criminals. It is imperative we clear the street of hawkers.”
The minister also met with the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Michael Freeman, who promised to work with the country to address the growing insecurity in the nation’s capital.