Civil servants and other commuters were stranded on the ever busy Abuja-Keffi road yesterday as operatives of the Nigerian Army mounted a roadblock and carried out a stop and search operation of vehicles entering the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
But the Commander Guards Brigade Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Mohammed Usman, explained that the military checkpoint along Mararaba-Nyanya is based on intelligence reports following the abduction of lecturers at the University of Abuja staff quarters on Monday.
Usman who spoke through the Commanding Officer 7 Guards Brigade, Lt Col SY Hassan, said the initiative is for the interest of the people in Abuja.
He said Abuja remains safe despite pockets of attacks on schools within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He said, “We took the initiative to mount the checkpoint based on intelligence. When things happen in a place at times they may also happen in other places too. We have information and that was why the checkpoint was put in place.
“It is there based on intelligence, there is nothing to panic, nothing to worry about, we know what we are looking for and once what we are looking for is addressed, the check point will be lifted off the road. It is for the interest of people in Abuja, however, we’ll try to be considerate as possible,” he said.
He however added that the Nigerian Army will continue to operate within the confines of civil law and humanitarian laws.
Earlier, the Commander Guards Brigade Garrison, Lt Col OJ Okwoli, said the Army is combing the bushes to rescue those abducted at the UNIAbuja quarters.
Okwoli, who blamed the abduction on the lack of perimeter fence, called on the school authorities to fence the quarters.
He also urged Nigerians to form the first layer of security within their localities to fend off minor attacks.
The commander said “Our troops have combed the bushes around the University of Abuja in search of the kidnapped victims.”
Stressing that the search for the abductees continues on the trail of the kidnappers, he said “The quarters is not fenced, it will do us a lot of good if such institutions are fenced”
He nonetheless assured that the city of Abuja and its environment remains safe.
While noting that the prevalence of abandoned buildings within the city provides a safe haven for criminals, Okwoli called on members of the public to provide timely information to the military in order to effectively tackle the criminals.
However, thousands of commuters were stranded on the ever busy Abuja-Keffi road as a result of the roadblock.
The military, it was observed, started the roadblock at the Kugbo Mechanic Village section in the Abuja axis of the road. Car drivers resorted to applying the wrong lanes in a bid to maneuver through the long queue which stretched from Kugbo Mechanic Village to Masaka near Keffi.
Civil servants and other workers who left their houses as early as 5am were still trapped in the traffic gridlock as of 2pm when LEADERSHIP visited the scene.
Passengers alighted from their vehicles and resorted to trekking several kilometers in order to meet up with appointments.
Commercial motorcyclists popularly called Okada riders exploited the situation to make brisk business as they charged as much as N1000 to convey passengers to Kugbo, to cut off the gridlock.
Most of the commercial drivers who spoke with our correspondent lamented the sudden military checkpoint on the road and pleaded with government authorities to look into their plights.
A stranded motorist, Mr Donald Izuchukwu, said the roadblock was as a result of the bandits’ attack at UniAbuja on Tuesday. He said the military probably has an intelligence report on infiltration of bandits or criminals from the Nyanyan axis of Abuja.
Also, a commercial driver, Solomon Dogo, who spoke with our correspondent said “We are not comfortable with the situation on ground even though we heard that a military officer was attacked. But we are yet to get the real truth of why they (military on roadblock) came back again,” he said.
Gunmen Attack Abuja School, Abduct Vice Principal
Meanwhile, suspected gunmen have invaded Junior Secondary School (JSS), Yebu in Kwali area council of Abuja, kidnapping the schools vice principal, Mohammed Nuhu.
The kidnappers who invaded the staff quarters of the school were reported to be wielding sophisticated weapons to scare away residents during the invasion.
An eye witness who pleaded anonymity explained that some of the kidnappers surrounded the quarters, while other gangs climbed the fence into the compound, broke into his apartment and whisked him away.
He said the kidnappers tied down the security guard manning the gate before they forced the victim’s door open.
“Some teachers that are staying inside the quarters could not come out because of the sporadic gunshots,” he said.
According to the eyewitness, the incident happened last Saturday night.
Chairman of the FCT wing of the Nigeria Union Teachers (NUT), Comrade Stephen Knabayi, confirmed the vice principal’s abduction.
He said the incident happened a few days after the Chief Imam of Yabgoji Central Mosque, Abubakar Abdullahi Gbedako, who is also the vice principal of Junior Secondary School, Kwaita, in Kwali area council, was abducted.
Knabayi said the union had written several emails to the FCT administration and some area council chairmen to complain over the incessant abduction of its members.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the FCT police command, DSP Adeh Josephine, said she is currently in a meeting.
She promised to call our reporter back after the meeting but had not done so as of the time of this report.
Abductors Of UNIABUJA Lecturers Demand N300m Ransom
In a related development, gunmen who invaded the University of Abuja Staff Quarters on Tuesday have demanded N300 million ransom.
A national daily in its online edition yesterday said the gunmen contacted the mother of one of the abducted boys and asked for N50 million each for the victims.
It was also learnt that the gunmen had reached out to the families, asking the woman to pass their demands to the families of other victims.
According to the source, “The kidnappers contacted the woman whose son is with them. They allowed her to speak with the boy then they told her what their demands are.
“The kidnappers asked for N50 million each for the six persons kidnapped.”
Asked if the university is involved in the negotiations, the source replied, “The university is not involved. They contacted the woman whose child they abducted and they permitted her to speak to her son.
“They refused to speak with individual family members. It is not advisable for the university to get involved directly. That is the truth.
“If the families are negotiating, they may even get a better deal so to speak. If it is the university that is negotiating with them, you know that they will not budge. It is better for the families to negotiate, when they come down then the university can do whatever it deems fit to do. I think that is the strategy.”
Also confirming the development to journalists, the university public relations officer of the , Dr Habib Yakoob, said, “They got in touch with the family, the parents of the abducted children were contacted. We learnt they are asking for N300 million for all of them.”
And less than 24 hours hours after bandits invaded the University of Abuja staff quarters and kidnapped senior staff, the school was attacked by another set of gunmen.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the unknown gunmen invaded the permanent site of the University at about 11am on Wednesday morning and attacked one Dr. David Okoroafor who is from the Economics department in his office, with an aim to kill him.
Confirming the attack, Okoroafor said he narrowly escaped death from the hands of the attackers as they were determined to kill him.
In a message he sent to ASUU officials, which was obtained by LEADERSHIP, Okoroafor said, “Dear ASUU members and UNIABUJA community, I wish to formally bring to your notice that today (Wednesday) I was attacked in my office located at Room 6, 1st floor, Faculty of Social building, at permanent site.
“At exactly 10am, when I arrived the building, opened my office and began to pray in my usual way, suddenly two men brandishing weapon bunched into the office and ordered me to lay down flat on my face or they blew me up.
“I pounced on them and the gun. But the duo started to hit me hard. I began to shout on the top of my voice for help. When my voice went higher, they ran out and students pursued after them. But when they brandished their gun, the students became afraid and ran back, giving them room to escape into the bush.
“But during the scuffle in my office, their car key fell off which I picked and handed over to the university security unit,” he said.