Residents of Suleja town, Niger state, have decried activities of gang members who operate openly around certain locations in the commercial town. Parents and other community leaders interviewed by Aso Chronicle lamented the number of young boys and even girls who are now joining gangs in the area.
The residents lamented that some of the areas the gangsters operate have become no-go places in the town as there had been reported cases of hand bag snatching and harassment of women.
Our reporter learnt that locations such as former Minna Garage, Unguwar Kuyambana, Kabula, Salanke and numerous other places off the stream that pass through the town, have become their safe havens where they operate unchecked.
Another area that has become notorious for gang activities is the Yan gongon site or scrap market. The area which shares boundary with the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) market, has become a source of concern not only to the traders of the popular IBB market, but also to the retailers alike who usually come from FCT and other towns in the state, to buy or sell goods at the market.
A trader in the market who sought for anonymity said drug dealers also hawk their stuff at the notorious places and they have taken the access way into the market, saying their presence makes traders and visitors to the market scared.
“As early as 9:00 am they begin to converge on the entrance to the market, their activities making life uncomfortable for other people,” he said.
It was revealed that, the situation used to be worse later around 2 pm of the day when the numbers of the gangs usually swell up, and remain active till 5pm when the market is set to close.
Another trader also alleged that the gang members target traders and snatch their phones, money and other valuables.
A community leader in the town, who does not want his name in the print, accused the security agencies of doing nothing about their mandate of maintaining law and order.
He said even when they are arrested, the security agents would extort them and release them without prosecuting them in court.
He alleged that their masters either in the illegal business or in politics would bargain their freedom, or give an order to the highest authorities to release them.
When contacted, some leaders in the Suleja main market, said the matter, though has become a source of worry to them and their visitors, there was nothing they could do about it, as the gangs were peddling more influence than them due to their closeness with some politicians that need their services during elections.
When contacted, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Suleja, CSP Lawal Shinkafi, who confirmed the activities of the hoodlums around the market area, regretted that there was no synergy among the security agencies in tackling the menace posed by the hoodlums at the market area.
He also said the community too was not cooperating with the security agencies as the hoodlums were known in their localities, advising that some of them who were dependent on drugs needed counseling and rehabilitation.