It is no longer news that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and, indeed, other parts of the country have been witnessing pockets of security challenges in recent times, ranging from kidnapping, armed banditry, armed robbery, car snatching, communal clashes and even the outright vandalism of public facilities.
Reports and explanations given by the relevant security agencies indicate that criminality has taken a dangerous dimension in the FCT just as it is assuming a more sophisticated trajectory with street urchins, with intention to cause mayhem, are applying very disingenuous means to perpetrate crime and criminality in the territory.
For instance, last month, several armed bandits reportedly invaded Tungan Maje community in Gwagwalada area council and abducted an unspecified number of residents after a gun duel with operatives attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the FCT Police Command. It was gathered that the hoodlums, in their numbers and armed to the teeth stormed the community located on Abuja- Kaduna Expressway, overpowered the local vigilante members and started shooting sporadically to alert the villagers of their presence.
According to the sources, the hoodlums arrived the community and operated for almost two hours before the arrival of the police who engaged them in a fierce gun battle during which five of the abducted residents were rescued while the bandits reportedly escaped with others.
Only last week, some residents of Kuje area council had raised an alarm over suspected criminal activities at the popular Kuje Forest Market, located along Gwagwalada road in the area. A resident narrated how activities of hoodlums inside the market have continued to pose a serious threat to lives of residents of the area, and added that some hoodlums have taken advantage of the forest to attack innocent passersby dispossessing them of their valuables, especially at night.
There have also been rising cases of car snatching from both car owners and dealers by persons posing as mechanics, passersby or buyers. There are also increase in cases of some unscrupulous persons using private vehicles or registered commercial taxis to rob unsuspecting passengers, a term popularly known as “one chance” in the FCT.
Added to these problems are the recent cases of kidnapping along the Kuje and Abaji axis of the FCT, where scores of persons have been kidnapped and huge sums of money collected as ransom before their release.
Coincidentally, the rising insecurity cases are coming after the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) reportedly raised an alarm through that members of the Boko Haram sect had infiltrated the FCT, and its environs and were set to strike at any moment.
Many factors have been given as reasons for the increasing security situation in the FCT. For instance, the influx of people from other parts of the country, in search of jobs in the FCT has contributed to the rising crime rates in the territory. Many of these job seekers end up not getting their preferred jobs and at the end of the day, some end up taking to crime.
Again, the lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to the rising crime rate in the territory. It is obvious that many small scale businesses in the territory folded up during the lockdown. This is in addition to the job losses from private business owners, who have laid-off many of their staff as a result of the recession.
Also, the ongoing demolition of illegal structures in parts of the territory, have worsened the security challenges in the territory. This is because many victims of the demolition exercise have had their means of livelihood destroyed, and have resorted to crime to fend for themselves
Speaking during a visit to the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, FCT minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, warned that the administration had concluded plans to deal decisively with the culprits, adding that the administration is currently partnering with the FCT Commissioner of Police to bring the menace to an end.
Much as there have been emphasis on the need for all the relevant security agencies in the FCT to do their work with added vigour, we believe that the FCT Administration and the security agencies, as city managers and security officials respectively, need to take a more incisive look at the strategies for combating crime to be able to match this new level of sophisticated criminality.
It is in this light that this newspaper is of the opinion that the FCTA should partner with the area councils and the security agencies to come up with a more robust approach in tackling insecurity in the territory .
But much more importantly, in our view, is for the government to address more aggressively the issue of unemployment among the youths of the country. A busy youth population, we dare say, will have a less inclination to crime. There may be a few incorrigibly bad elements already avowed to a false life of self deceit but their number will not be as much as the crowd of idle hands milling around presently literally begging the devil to engage them.