The intensification of security in the city centre of Federal Capital Territory without replicating same in the suburbs by the FCT administration has reduced it to robbers’ den, thereby putting residents in perpetual fear, Ochiaka Ugwu writes.
For Chilaka Izugbe, it was a day and experience he will never forget in his life. Mr Izugbe is a fabric dealer who shuttles between Abuja and Kano for his trading activities. The Imo State born trader buys goods in the ancient city of Kano and retails in Abuja. According to him “it was late last year, when I was returning from Kano, after purchasing my wares, that I encountered these ‘one chance’ people. It was around 7 pm when the vehicle I boarded from Kano dropped me at Zuba flyover ostensibly to get a car that will take me to Wuse. Immediately, a car pulled by with about four male occupants and the driver pointed at my direction making me to flag him down. I joined them, at first it was all discussions on various issues. But all of a sudden one of them brought out a pistol and asked me to cooperate. I became hysterical and pleaded with them to spare my life. They said that could only happen if I kept my peace, they drove me to a nearby bush, pushed me down and sped off with my goods. My brother, that was how I lost all, am just scratching now” he concluded.
According to Peoples Daily investigation, actually unable to withstand the heat of eagle eyed police onslaught in their former base of Abuja city centre, robbers operating in both commercial and private vehicles (aka one chance) may have found a sanctuary in the outskirts of the city.
The criminals now operate under the guise of being taxi drivers, and have been brutalizing unsuspecting passengers and dispossessing them of their belongings along some routes in the city. The affected roads, Peoples Daily investigations revealed, are in the outskirt of the city along Deidei – Kubwa and Zuba –Giri expressways. Other dark spots which have become notorious for the crimes, committed with impunity under the cover of night, include Deidei junction in Deidei town of Bwari Area Council and Zuba town flyover, a major transit point for commuters travelling to northern and southern parts of the country. It is also where several people have been robbed and maimed by bandits in the past.
The criminals, who act as if they are taxi drivers and passengers usually, rob unsuspecting and innocent Nigerians of their cash, personal effects and other valuables under the cover of darkness. A taxi driver, Mr. James Mark, told Peoples Daily about one of such incidents he witnessed in the past. He said that a lady was robbed of an unspecified amount of cash, her laptop and other items after she boarded a taxi at Deidei junction.
The victim was returning from Kaduna, where she had gone to purchase some goods and had boarded the car ostensibly used by the dare devils to perpetrate their nefarious activities. The criminals were said to have brought out a gun and demanded that the victim surrender all in her possession when the vehicle got to Kagini junction which is a sleepy town located along Kubwa Expressway. The source said she promptly obeyed them, after which they threw her out of the car and zoomed off.
Unsubstantiated reports also stated that the criminals sometimes drove their victims into the adjoining bush along the expressway where they beat up and rob their defenceless victims without anyone being aware of the evil acts.
Many residents have suffered a lot in the hands of these individuals who don’t have any compunction in unleashing terror on their victims.
Residents living in the areas on both sides of the expressway are now very cautious of keeping late night or boarding taxis at night especially taxi with predominately male occupants inside.
A resident of Saburi, Tony Agada, told Peoples Daily that he has already warned his neighbours and friends not to keep late nights, and to be extra careful whenever they want to enter public transport.
Our correspondent visited Deidei police post to know what they are doing to arrest the ugly incidents but was told to come back the following day since the officer in charge of public relations was not within reach.
But an officer who doesn’t want his name in print, as he was not authorised to do so, told our correspondent that the police were not aware of the new trend.
He blamed this on failure of members of the public to give reasonable and useful information on such cases. He stressed that members of the public should notify the police when such incidents occur.
His words “If a case of robbery is constant and there is nobody to go to the police station to report, there is no way the police will know. He however said that the police high command has ordered greater surveillance of some areas of the satellite town to improve the security in the capital city.