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Wike, secure FCT from one-chance syndicates

Abuja, as a city and a territory, which was once considered by its residents as one of the safest in the country is now a…

Abuja, as a city and a territory, which was once considered by its residents as one of the safest in the country is now a den of criminal elements where their unabated, yet nefarious activities have made lives and property of citizens vulnerable. In a recent media report, at least 12 people were reportedly killed and 139 others abducted when bandits and robbers attacked some communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the last six months.

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, for instance 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.

Also, in April this year, 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. There were other incidents in other area councils within the period. Residents in remote villages within the FCT are forced by the spate of abduction to relocate to safer towns and communities.

The most disturbing, however, of all the security challenges threatening the safety of FCT residents is the return of one-chance gangs that are daily terrorising commuters on the roads. To mention that one-chance criminals are currently on rampage in Abuja is an understatement. This bunch of criminals use unpainted taxis to rob unsuspected commuters. Claiming to be public transporters, they often load themselves in a car, leaving only a spot for their victim who, after boarding the vehicle, is instantly attacked and robbed of his possessions. The victim is thereafter thrown out of the vehicle or abandoned in any isolated neighbourhood.

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The death of Greatness Tolulope Olorunfemi, after falling victim to one-chance attack along the Katampe-Kubwa road, is a case of grave concern. She was pounced on by a one-chance syndicate while returning from work on September 26, 2023 and later died at the Maitama General Hospital, as a result of the injuries sustained in the attack. Kike Okere, who was Olorunfemi’s co-passenger during the one-chance attack, said the latter was thrown out of their moving vehicle by the syndicate after she was robbed. It was cruel enough that even after Olorunfemi had fallen from the vehicle, the syndicate still ran over their victim with the car.

Olorunfemi’s case is just one out of many incidents, some of them un-reported in the media, that have and are still troubling the safety of FCT residents. The recent withdrawal of petrol subsidy, which forced many Nigerians to abandon their private vehicles and commute in public transportation has made more Abuja residents become vulnerable to one-chance attacks. It would be recalled that upon assumption of office as FCT minister, Wike promised to work with security agencies and support them with all they need to function efficiently and creditably. Residents of the FCT are worried that after Wike’s eight weeks in office as FCT minister, the state of security in Abuja has only worsened.

Unpainted taxis, which are commonly used for one-chance operations, still operate freely in and around Abuja city. All the red flag areas identified as one-chance operating spots are still not enjoying full surveillance from relevant security agencies. This plausibly explains why the number of such syndicates keeps surging. The recent public warning by the commissioner of police in the FCT, Mr Haruna Garba, that commuters should be wary of unpainted taxis, otherwise known as ‘kabu-kabu,’ in order to avoid becoming victims of one-chance leaves much to be desired. The police, in particular, know where, when, and how most of these criminal elements operate. Members of the one-chance syndicates are not spirits. Again, the FCT CP’s lamentation that Abuja is porous as the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in parts of Abuja city are not functioning is not a tenable excuse. The police have absolute and unreserved duty to protect lives and property.

While we call on the FCT command of the Nigeria police to increase its surveillance operations and give more attention to crime prevention strategies, we encourage the FCT minister, Nyesom Wike, to walk his talk on the support he earlier promised to give to security agencies so that they would have no excuses, thereafter, for any failures or breach of the security in the FCT.

To avert the incidences of residents often falling victims to attacks by one-chance syndicates, Daily Trust urges the FCT minister to as a matter of immediate action provide enough mass transit buses along all routes within the Abuja city-center. By extension, this measure would further cushion the effects of petrol subsidy withdrawal on residents. As citizens, the right of FCT residents to free movement must not be allowed to be usurped by criminal elements. Abuja, like every other part of Nigeria must be secured from all forms of insecurity, including the notorious one-chance syndicates.

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