How Abuja residents are ’defending’ their communities
v dir="ltr">The rate of insecurity in the country seems to be at an all-time high, with reported cases of kidnapping, banditry and other violent crimes being on the increase in most states of the federation.
The security situation in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja is not any different as reported cases of kidnapping, armed robbery and car snatching are now daily occurrences in the seat of power where hapless citizens are being abducted right from their homes.
Only recently, the media was awash with stories of the kidnap of a journalist with the Punch Newspapers at his Arab Road, Kubuwa residence with the children of his neighbors. They were later released after alleged payment of undisclosed ransom by the family and friends of the victims after four days. This is one of the many abductions for ransom that depicts the sorry state of security in the FCT and its environs.
The neighbor of the kidnapped journalist, a widow, Mrs. Faith Gbeyide, according to media reports said her son agreed to open the door for the kidnappers when they threatened to kill them if they forced the doors open, they entered and made away with the N9,000, from her purse and her first son, Victor, and when they saw the second son, Gbenga, was following them they took him also.
A children’s home, Rachael Orphanage, in Naharati, Abaji Area Council, was also attacked on January 24 this year, when armed men forced themselves in through the main gate and made their way straight to the room and kidnapped about 11 persons. Though the victims were later released, reports have it that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of N10million for their release.
It would be recalled that earlier in the year precisely the second week of January, 2021, the force headquarters reported that a notorious kidnapper, Mohammed Amodu, was allegedly kidnapped by a relatively unknown kidnapper Buba Babu, and the sum of N1. 6 million was paid for his release.
Gunmen also attacked Pegi community ion about two weeks ago where one person was kidnapped while on their way home. The community which has suffered similar attacks in the past was in the news, last week, when its residents blocked the entrance into the Federal Capital Territory Administration demanding government’s attention to their plight which they blamed on the deplorable condition of the Kuje-Pegi road.
With plethora of kidnap cases, residents of the FCT have since taken to self-help. Resident associations have become some sort of government of their own, engaging private security outfits and even local vigilantes to protect neighborhoods.
It is therefore not unusual to see road blocks and even burn fires on neighborhood streets. Our correspondent who went round some neighborhood in AMAC and Bwari area councils observe that most streets conspicuously had road barricades, car rims and other equipment depicting the presence of local vigilantes.
Some residents who employ these alternative security arrangements told METRO that the equipment serve as some show of force to wade off potential attackers and give residents some semblance of safety in their homes.
A chairman of one of the resident associations in Abuja Municipal Area Council who simply gave his name as Chidi, told our correspondent that most residents are more comfortable engaging the services of private securities and vigilantes as most of them are more daring than the police.
He said “Though most of them local securities are not trained in the job, they are more daring than your average police who will arrive with sirens to dispel criminals during an attack and that is why most of us are more comfortable with them. Besides government has left us with no choice but to engage these guys since we do not have adequate police to cater for our huge population, the available ones are over stretched and sometimes culpable in some of the crimes going on in the country.”
The chairman however urged the government to as a matter of urgency, place security as a national emergency issue and address some of the challenges that gave rise to the level of insecurity currently being experienced.
A financial expert Damilola Adekoya, is of the opinion that the amount of money being received as ransom form victims consistently would only make the industry thrive and attractive for yet to be conscripted persons who may be tempted by the successes and monies made from kidnapping.
She advised government to emphasize a no ransom payment policy by all agencies of government and other stakeholders to serve as deterrent to those who would want to ply the dreaded trade, because that would be the only solution to the problem.
Adekoya said it is unfortunate that most youth now only celebrate the extravagant lives of people without a care for the sources of their wealth. She stressed that if the government and citizens can formulate and adhere to a non-ransom policy, then the business would be unattractive because money is not being made from it.
Amadu Kaffi, a business man who lives at the Orozo area of the FCT, said it is now difficult to sleep with both eyes closed because of the desperation of men of the underworld who seek to make money off unsuspecting residents.
Kaffi said “It is unfortunate that we have gotten to this path of criminality that looks very difficult to reverse given the kind of money these kidnappers make from it and the reluctance of government to end the anomalies in our society.
He narrated an incident where a neighbor of his was recently sacked from his work place due to the impact of COVID 19 pandemic. “My neighbor was kidnapped and was initially told to pay N10 million, but with the effort of family, friends and well-wishers, we were able to raise pay N800, 000, before he was released by the kidnappers and he vowed not to stay out later than 8pm, which was about when he was kidnapped after sitting out with friends.”
Though the FCT Administration and security agencies particularly the police, have continually assured of their commitment to tackle the growing challenge of insecurity, many want the security operatives to increase their response time to all security challenges reported to them and endeavor to engage locals who can reach them in good time and also help them with intelligence gathering.