What insecurity has become, absurdly, a new normal in Nigeria is no longer news. To also say that the spate of kidnappings has reached a frightening dimension is an understatement. What is, however, worrisome is the fact that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nigeria’s seat of power, which is expected to be a safe haven has been taken over by kidnappers and bandits. On a daily basis, people are being abducted from their homes, offices and while commuting.
Before now, the Federal Capital Territory had been spared Nigeria’s increasing security concerns. That, sadly, has changed with daily reports of kidnappings and abductions in the capital city a spill over from the madness in the neighbouring Northern states.
The rising number of abductions and robberies in recent months has left commuters, in particular, at a growing risk of being robbed or kidnapped in taxis operated by criminal elements commonly known as ‘one chance’.
It is terrifying to note that the increasing rate of abduction in Abuja is not only a threat to the nation by virtue of the fact that it is the seat of the federal government as well as the base of most diplomatic missions. The concern by Nigerians is that the preponderance of this state of unsafe is an issue that has left residents seemingly helpless.
Recreation centres, including gardens and parks in Abuja metropolis, meant for interaction and relaxation are now being turned into locations, where questionable elements operate from or carry out their nefarious activities.
In October last year, kidnappers abducted five siblings in Pegi community in Kuje area council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The same month, gunmen abducted a former vice chairman of Kuje Area Council, two councillors representing Kwaku and Kabi wards of the council, and nine others along the Kabbi-Kuje road and Pegi; all in Kuje. Pegi which hosts a Navy Barracks is unfortunately not spared the constant onslaught of armed robbery and kidnapping. Twelve people were reported to have been abducted in December last year.
Pegi and Kabbi communities, five kilometres apart, have been the epicentres of kidnapping in Kuje area council for the past one year. Sources have alleged that the kidnappers have camps in forests around these areas.
Apart from Kuje, Tunga Maje, Kwali and Abaji are other areas that have come under increasing attacks by kidnappers. Late last month, gunmen abducted two sons of the Chief Imam of Abaji central mosque and one other person. The sons of the chief Imam were kidnapped with another resident in the area. Sadly these areas are outskirts of towns that lead into the main city, where security is poor, and residents lack basic amenities which give kidnappers the leeway to carry out their activities. This may not come as a surprise as these security concerns are coming on the heels of a recent security alert of insurgents invading forests in the rural communities of the FCT.
It is, however, regrettable that despite these concerns, warnings and several complaints by affected residents of the city to the FCT authorities, there seem not to be much action to provide the people the desired succour.
In Tunga Maje, a suburb in Gwagwalada which is about 33 km from the city centre, 11 people were said to have been kidnapped in September 2020. FCT Minister of State, Ramatu Aliyu, who condemned the abductions expressed regret that cases of kidnapping had become rampant, especially in Kuje area council of the territory.
In the opinion of this newspaper, it is quite disheartening that abductors storm targeted communities within the FCT to carry out their dastardly acts by shooting sporadically into the air and whisk their victims away without any hindrance.
Migration to the city has no doubt fuelled the incessant kidnappings that is being witnessed today but security agents seem to have been overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of the criminals. Even worse is the pervasive despondency among the security agencies due, largely, to insufficient mobilisation, inadequate logistics and glaringly low morale. In this situation, the tendency is for the residents to develop the feeling that they have been abandoned.
This newspaper is of the view that the use of technology and high calibre equipment by security agents are of utmost importance now. Kidnappers should be wiped out as a matter of urgency. Their camps must be located and destroyed. Security agents should take proactive steps, go after the bandits and kidnappers in their various hideouts instead of waiting for them to strike before taking action. FCT deserves to remain the decent and peaceful city it was created to be. Criminals must be made to understand this. Which means that the security agencies must be firm and resolute.