DAVID ADUGE-ANI and CECILIA OGEZI write on the incessant cases of abduction in Kuje Area Council of the FCT by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers
Residents of Pegi community in the Kuje Area Council are still in shock and apprehensive over recent kidnap cases in the community following recent kidnap cases in the community. On 7 October, 2020, at about 8:10 pm abducted three persons after firing several shots in the air leaving the residents in the community in great fear.
The gunmen said to have been dressed in black attires fired shots at a Volkswagen saloon car. It was gathered that other occupants of the vehicle were wounded while they left with one person who resides in Pegi, condemning the vehicle with bloodstains of the occupants.
Barely five days after, on Saturday 10 October, 2020 not fewer than 15 people were again kidnapped by gunmen while coming from Kabi Mangoro community in the area council. It was gathered that the incident happened at about 6:00 pm, while people were returning home after going to congratulate the new education secretary of the council, Mr. Yunusa Zakari.
Among the victims are former vice chairman of the council, Mohammed Baba, transport officer, SA media, HOD Food Services and some council legislative members. The kidnappers were said to have hijacked their bus and seized all occupants at gunpoint. A source, who spoke to newsmen said, “The staff went to congratulate the new executive secretary and, on their way, back the kidnappers hijacked the bus and took all of them into the bush. This is in addition to a recent abduction of 12 persons on 10 September, 2020 at Tungan Maje, a community on the outskirts of the nation’s capital, after gunmen invaded the area.
The chairman of Pegi Community Development Association (PECDA), Mr. Taiwo Aderibigbe, who also confirmed both incidents expressed sadness over recent happenings in the area, adding that the abductions most times take place on the highway when residents are coming home in the evening but recently they go from house to house to kidnap people.
Aderibigbe disclosed that two of the persons who were abducted on the 7th of October were released at about 11 am on the 14th of October and are currently receiving medical attention at an undisclosed medical facility. He added that a resident, Mr Victor Nwaluo whose 7-year-old son and brother-in-law were abducted on the 10th of October is yet to be contacted and would not talk with the press for fear of jeopardizing the process of rescuing his family members.
He further noted that the families of others affected in the last incident were yet to be contacted, adding that those kidnapped earlier were asked to pay the sum of N10 million as ransom. The chairman called on the government to intervene in the matter as police in the area are handicapped and overwhelmed by the situation, adding that there have been spates of robbery incidents in the area even though they play host to a Navy Barracks in the community.
A spokesperson for the FCT Police Command, Maltida Mari, who confirmed the incidents, said that they were making efforts to rescue the victims.
Meanwhile, a victim, Rilwan Abdulwahab who was kidnapped on the 6th of December last year narrated that they were moved to two places after he was picked alongside two others. He disclosed that one of them was shot on the shoulder during the attack, even as he revealed that they trekked for about six hours to get to their hideout and was only released after his elder brother paid a ransom.
Worried by the incident, a spokesperson for Original Indigenes of Abuja, Yunusa Ahmadu Yusuf, called on the FCT minister to resign if it cannot guarantee the safety of the common man in the territory. “Today, 10th October, 2020 a former vice-chairman Kuje area council, transport officer, SA Media, HOD Food Services and some council legislative members were kidnapped on their way back from a community call Kabi we insist that the FCT Administration have failed in their primary responsibility of protecting the vulnerable communities. This is worrisome that we seem to have a minister in FCT whose utmost priority is not clear in protecting the lives of the people under his watch.”
Recently, some residents of Pegi community staged a peaceful protest following recent abductions and attacks in the area. The protesters barricaded the entrance to Kuje area council secretariat, holding placards with inscriptions such as “Kidnappers are on a rampage in Kuje”, and “Give us security in Pegi community.”
The protesters alleged that the Kuje council and FCT Administration had failed to complete the road project linking Kuje town to the community, and have distorted the original master plan of the community. Mr Taiwo, the leader of the aggrieved persons, told newsmen that the protest was aimed at drawing the attention of authorities to the insecurity, negligence and hardship experienced by the residents.
“The master plan of Pegi Resettlement site that was originally mapped out in 2005 by the former minister of the FCT, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, had been altered. This community has suffered hardship as a result of infrastructural deficit and security challenges.”
Taiwo said that the activities of armed robbers and motorcycle-snatchers have become rampant. “They always take advantage of the bad road linking the community to attack innocent residents, especially civil servants while (they are) returning from work. Some gunmen dressed in military camouflage, on Monday night, fired shots at vehicles and over four people were kidnapped and some residents were seriously injured.
“About four persons, including a 10-year-old boy, were among the victims that were kidnapped on Monday in the community. The attackers could not be less than 20, as they fired indiscriminately. Bullets deflated tyres and created deep holes on vehicles.”
He said the Monday attack was the second time that kidnapping was recorded in the community recently. More than six persons were kidnapped in 2018 at the same location. We are pleading with relevant authorities to come to our rescue.
“We, the residents of Pegi community have been neglected and several distortions have been made to the original master plan of our community, we call on the government to also intervene. We are also calling on the Kuje area council and FCT Minister to come and address the rising spate of insecurity in our community,” Taiwo urged.
Addressing the residents, the Chairman of Kuje area council, Hon Abdullahi Sabo, assured them of improved security and peace in the area, adding that the area council in synergy with security operatives was on a search-and-rescue mission to ensure that the victims were rescued.
The chairman also assured that the council would ensure that dilapidated roads in the area were fixed and a police out-station is established in the area. On his part, Divisional Police Officer for Kuje, Mr Harrison Oruruo, appealed to the protesters to open the council secretariat gate to prevent miscreants from hijacking the protests.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, FCT Commissioner of Police, CP Bala Ciroma, said everything is being done to ensure the security of life and property in the FCT. Ciroma, who did not reveal details, due to security reasons, however, disclosed that police officers have been deployed to all parts of the territory to ensure the security of lives and to end cases of kidnappings in parts of the territory.