To say that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is under siege by kidnappers and other criminal elements in recent weeks is a gross understatement. Incidents of kidnapping in Abuja, the nation’s seat of power in the last few weeks, have quadrupled consistently with residents living in palpable fear.
After several warnings and advisory on bandits and Boko Haram insurgents setting up camps near the FCT, the chicken came home to roost as bandits in the early hours of last Tuesday attacked the staff quarters of the University of Abuja, abducting four staff of the institution along with their children.
The kidnap incident triggered a massive security cordon around the nation’s capital, leading to the deployment of troops and mounting of roadblocks at the entry points to the territory by the Brigade of Guards. Residents living in the outskirts of the FCT like Nyanya, Karu, and Maraba had to pass through harrowing traffic experiences due to the stop and search by the military.
Four days later, the FCT Police Command announced that the police in a joint operation with the military and other security agencies rescued the six kidnap victims. The Command also announced the arrest of eight kidnappers involved in the abduction of six members of staff of the University of Abuja after a fire-fight with security forces at Shenegwu Forest in Gwagwalada Area Council.
Sadly also, a Vanguard reporter, Tordue Salem based in Abuja who has been missing for over three weeks was found dead in dead. Again, in February this year, a journalist with Punch Newspaper, Okechukwu Nnodim, was kidnapped alongside 2 others in Kubwa, one of the satellite towns in the FCT.
Also recently, bandits stormed the Junior Secondary School (JSS) Yebu in Kwali Area Council of Abuja. The Vice Principal, Mohammed Nuhu was kidnapped after the assailants invaded the staff quarters. It was also reported that, the Chief Imam of Yangoji Central Mosque, Abubakar Abdullahi Gbedako, and his two sons were taken away by gunmen suspected to be bandits.
The list is endless. In September, Mrs. Bukola Olapade, 45 years old, and her two daughters; Moyo, 17, and Glory 14 were said to have been whisked away by unknown gunmen in Pegi Kuje, who broke into her home in the wee hours.
Regrettably, another worrisome insecurity challenge in the federal capacity is the increasing incidences of car thefts. It is, however, gratifying to note that the House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, to appear before the committee of the whole on the worsening insecurity in the territory.
This Newspaper frowns at the massive roadblocks mounted at the entry points to Abuja by the military in this era of technology and the needless suffering commuters were subjected to for three consecutive days. In the considered opinion of this newspaper, deployment of technology should be used for surveillance instead of the archaic method of stop and search causing more hardship to hapless citizens.
Accordingly, this Newspaper calls on the federal government to speed up the plan to revive the $470 million National Public Security Communication System. We recall that the contract for the Abuja CCTV installation project was awarded in 2010 to a Chinese firm, ZTE Nigeria Limited, to provide audio, video, and data information for use by the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies. The contract provided for the installation of five components, including the video surveillance system and comprehensive, reliable, modern, and robust public security communication technology. The previous project has obviously failed as most of the CCTVs are not working or were not even installed at all in the first place.
Also, we suggest that the security personnel stationed at hot spots in the city should redouble their efforts in this barefaced challenge. We contend that intelligence gathering should be key in winning the war against kidnappers in Abuja and, indeed, in addressing the worrisome security challenges the federal government is battling in several parts of the country.
Furthermore, we call on the federal capital authorities to fix street lights and install new ones on all the major roads in the city. Again, CCTV should be installed on all the major roads and street corners in Abuja as we believe this will go a long way in reducing the incidences of insecurity in Abuja.
We also call on the Police to fish out the killers of the journalist, Tordue Salem. We demand a thorough investigation from the police. His killers must be found and prosecuted. The position by the Police that he was killed by a hit and run driver is, in our opinion, unacceptable.
Nigeria’s capital city cannot afford to be classified as a no-go area’ or tagged as a haven for criminal elements, especially now that the country is in dire need of foreign direct investments. Being the first city of call for investors and tourists, security in the city in all its ramifications should be taken for granted.