In this piece, CHIKA OKEKE of Leadership Newspaper writes that crime rate rises in the Federal Capital Territory as the economic recession bites harder, especially along the city’s soft spots.
When the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun announced that Nigeria’s economy was technically on recession, there were palpable fears by the public on how Nigerians could sail through the tight spot.
While the nation’s economic think tank mulls way out of the economic quagmire, it is feared that the hardship induced by economic recession has unfortunately translated to increasing crime rate, especially in the federal capital territory.
Within the last five months, the number of cars reportedly stolen is alarming. This is even as other belonging including common items like bag and others are reportedly being snatched, sometimes in broad day light.
Alarmingly, one -chance operation, petty stealing and sexual assault on women are reportedly on the increase.
Investigation revealed that residents living in satellite towns of Nyanya, Lugbe, Kubwa, Mararaba and other villages are worst hit by the activities of men of the underworld.
Further findings indicated that the pedestrian bridges at Airport road –Lugbe, Mabushi, Area 3, Wuye and Nyanya are danger zones for commuters especially at nights.
Other locations known for notorious robbery are Wuse, Apo Bridge even as unlawful sale and consumption of hard drugs are increasing daily in the Federal capital city.
Lugbe, Chika, Aleita Airport Road
At Lugbe, Tudun wada and Federal Housing estate Lugbe, it’s a mixture of crime and criminality perpetrated by okada riders, commercial sex workers, scavengers, Fulani herdsmen and jobless residents.
These areas appears bugged with different categories of crime such as car snatching, bag snatching, one chance operators as well as robbery during the day and at nights while crimes perpetrated at the pedestrian bridges take place at nights.
Lamentably however, the malfunctioned nature of the street lights which are supposed to illuminate the areas at night has further heightened the spate of criminalities in these areas which has busy roads that are on perpetual darkness.
Only recently, the police arrested a 29 year old notorious one chance suspect, Yusuf Waheed, in a Nissan Sunny car with registration number, RBC 428 XJ.
Acting on information, the police operatives from Lugbe Division arrested the suspect who had been terrorizing parts of FCT, on 10th August.
The suspect confessed that his gang operated between Lugbe and airport axis with the impounded Nissan car even as the Command CIID is still investigating the case.
A resident of FHA Lugbe, Mrs Dominica Andrew maintained that robbery increased for the past six months adding that the locality also witnessed greater number of burglary and petty stealing by scavengers and jobless youths.
She recalled how a thief who gave his name as Femi and who has terrorised the area under the pretext of being a plumber, was caught by the residents.
Narrating the incidence , she said that the thief was caught when he attempted to snatch a neighbour’s bag when she (neighbour) was returning from work.
Investigation revealed that Chika under bridge is a shadow of itself at nights as policemen and other security personnel who should provide security are rarely available. This has unfortunately provided what looked like favourable operating environment for the criminals to perpetrate their act without let or hindrance.
It was also observed that residents had stopped climbing the bridges at nights as many were seen directing the driver to stop them at the speed lane to avoid climbing the pedestrian bridge.
A resident of Chika, Benjamin Okoh said that he stopped climbing the Chika pedestrian bridge at night due to increased bag snatching, rape and robbery usually at gun point.
“My female neighbour was robbed and raped at gunpoint on top of the pedestrian bridge, sometimes in July, at around 9.30.pm while one of my friends was also robbed at the same bridge, so I stopped climbing the bridge at night.
A driver plying Airport road axis, who gave his name as Nonso, also shared his experience on how he narrowly escaped being robbed by the dare devil criminals.
He said that he picked four passengers from Berger three of whom eventually alighted before Chika adding “As I approached Chika, he asked me to stop so that he will alight from the car. Instead of the passenger alighting from my car, I felt a cold sensation on my head while he jumped to the front sit telling me that I should cooperate or else, I will be shot”.
Nonso said since under the Chika bridge was dark due to malfunctioning street lights that he courageously started the car despite the threat.
“I drove dangerously that night at both sides of the road to such an extent that the thief who did not fasten his seat belt became afraid and was shouting that I should stop the car.
He said that as he dangerously applied the brake pad that the thief jumped out of the moving car and he sped off before stopping at Federal Housing junction Lugbe.
Another driver who identified himself as James Akpan shared his experience on how a girl he picked at Wuse 2 and was heading to Lugbe robbed him inside his car.
“I pick people only on ‘drop’ but because the business was dried that day, I decided to load to Lugbe. Unfortunately, I picked the lady from Ademola Adetokunbo Wuse 2 who claimed that she was going to Lugbe.
He noted that he picked additional two males and a female at Berger bust-stop who was also heading t0 Lugbe adding that two males and the female alighted mid-way into the journey leaving behind the first girl that he picked on the way.
“She demanded that I stopped her at Aleiyeta under bridge but before I could stop the my car, I discovered that I was tied to the sit with a rope while she pointed a gun at my forehead saying that I should bring all the money I had with me or else, she would waste me.
Akpan confirmed that he gave the girl the sum of N7000 adding that she collected the cash leaving him tied to the chair.
While pleading with the FCT administration to brighten Abuja at nights especially the expressway, he called on the Inspector- General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to deploy police officers to guard the airport road and other strategic locations in the city.
Aside theft, Mabushi is a notorious area for car snatchers and one chance operators findings revealed. The crimes are mostly perpetrated under the pedestrian and overhead bridges.
A photo journalist with LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed recalled that one fateful night sometimes this year, he packed his car beside the Mabushi pedestrian bridge to pick up a friend, but a robber jumped out from the bridge and robbed him at gun point.
He noted that the robber cleared the entire cash in his pocket and drove off his car which also contained his professional camera and other valuables.
Mohammed said that he reported the matter to Utako police station adding that till date, he was unable to recover his car and other valuables.
Less than two month after the theft of the Photo Journalist’s vehicle, an erudite reporter with LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Mr Andrew Essien’s vehicle was stolen at the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The car, Honda Accord car (Academy) 1998 model with registration number YAB 722 PG, Chassis number: 1HGCD5650VA03436 and Engine Number: 22B14416805 was stolen shortly after Essien had closed from reporting the activities of the party which he covers as a beat.
Till date, there has been no trace of either Mohammed or Essien’s car.
In Kubwa, it was observed that the expressway which is a death trap is also criminal’s den while the residents were forced to wound up their windscreen on approaching Kubwa due to the influx of roadside hawkers in the area.
Recall that on July, an armed gang robbed a bank customer of about N4.3m as he was about depositing the money in Access Bank branch in Kubwa.
The gunmen shot sporadically in the air and succeeded in blocking the man’s car as he attempted to gain access into the bank and robbed him of the cash irrespective of the terrain.
A resident of Kubwa, Ms Esohen Ogbeide expressed worry over the renewed robbery incidence in the area which she blamed on the current economic hardship tormenting Nigerians.
Ogbeide who is a student of Auchi Polytechnic Edo state begged the inspector general of police not to allow Abuja to degenerate like Lagos even as she sought for the repair and maintenance of street lights across the federal capital territory.
An on the spot assessment revealed that though the residents are carrying out their daily activities peacefully but the economic recession was biting harder given the upsurge in crime, hunger, food prices and among others.
A resident, Mrs Rose Danladi admitted that her sister who worked at Gwagwalada area council was owed more than three months’ salary adding that the sister couldn’t afford the children’s school fees since she was a widow.
On state of crime in the city, she added, “Things have fallen apart since this economic recession while people are robbed of their valuables at nights while some thieves had broken into people’s homes to steal food stuffs.
Given the increasing crime rate at Kuje, the Council chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Galadima promised to recruit vigilante members that would collaborate with security agents towards ending all forms of crime and criminality in the area.
Speaking shortly after a closed door parley with security agencies, he noted that security issues required a collective responsibility even as he urged residents to provide useful information to the security agencies in the event of any crime.
Police Denies Rising Crime
The agency saddled with the responsibility of enforcing law and order, and, ensuring low crime, the police, debunked allegations of increasing crime rate.
In a chat, the Police Public Relation Officer, FCT Command, Anjuguri Manzah denied claims that residents were robbed at pedestrian bridges adding that both uniform and plain clothes policemen were positioned at the bridges.
According to him, “On 4th July, a total of 23 suspects were arrested while 3 pistols, 31 live ammunition, 10 cars, 1 truck, 1 master key, clothes and shoes were recovered.
The police spokesman recalled that 8 suspects were arrested even as 3 arms, 5 live cartridges, 4 cars, $80, 000 fake dollars, 3, 650 fake pounds, 10 mobile phones, 24 SIM cards, 2 wrist watches and 2 masks were recovered by the command on 27th July.
He said as at 3rd August that the command recovered 10 arms, 32 cartridges, 3 laptops, 3 handsets, 16 bags of Indian hemp, N8, 218,660 adding that 28 suspects were arrested.
As at 22nd August, Manzah noted that 41 suspects were arrested adding that 13 motorcycles, 6 Cars,9 wrist watches, 6 handsets, 1 television set, 1 DVD player, 1 game station, armoured cables, 2 ipad and 1 knife were recovered.
Manza enjoined the publics to be cautious of parking lots adding that car owners should go extra miles in installing tracking devices in their cars.
“Cars should not be parked at dark and secluded places while proper background check should be conducted before employing domestic staff.
He pointed out that employers should educate their domestic staff on the need to guard against interaction with strangers saying that they should be restricted from accessing certain rooms where valuables are stored.
Manza appealed to parents to be conversant with their children’s friends.