From Fred Itua, Abuja
Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have raised the alarm over rising cases of coordinated kidnappings in the Territory, despite the presence of over 15 security-related agencies.
Many residents who spoke to Daily Sun on the rising cases, also wondered why the FCT Administration has not summoned a town hall meeting to liaise with community leaders, estate owners and various vigilante groups on how to tackle the menace.
They argued that the FCT has the nomenclature of a State and called on the two FCT ministers to rise up to the occasion or be booted out by President Muhammadu Buhari. They also wondered why President Buhari has not given marching orders to the various security agents to go after bandits and other criminals operating in the Territory.
In recent weeks, over 50 persons have been kidnapped in Abuja, according to security sources. Security sources listed Kuje, Kubwa, Bwari, Apo/Lokogoma, Gwarinpa and some undisclosed parts of the metropolis as epicentres of abductions.
The security source explained the new modus operandi of the kidnappers. He said unlike in the past, homes of the victims are now attacked, with sporadic gunshots to scare off people. The source said the victims are thereafter marched into a nearby bush or surrounding mountains.
He said houses bordering isolated bushes, rocks, mountains or standing alone, are easy targets. He added that the kidnappers usually monitor their victims for days and understand their daily routines before they strike.
He said security agents are helpless and grossly under-equipped to confront the daredevil kidnappers.
Last week, John Makama, father of Bwari Area Council Chairman in Abuja, John Gabaya, was kidnapped from his home. The victim was kidnapped alongside his two other siblings.
They were released on Saturday after an undisclosed ransom was allegedly paid.
Similarly, a Punch reporter, Okechukwu Nnodim, who was kidnapped last Wednesday in Kubwa, regained his freedom on Saturday night after a ransom was also allegedly paid.
On Friday night, kidnappers invaded Pegi community in Kuje Area Council and reportedly abducted some people after shooting sporadically to scare off residents of the area.
Daily Sun has reliably gathered that some residents of the Territory in the affected areas, are relocating to safer neighbourhoods.
A resident of Pegi, Sandra Imonitie, who spoke to Daily Sun, said she was relocating her family to Kuje main town. Mrs Imonitie who said they were willing to sell off their house, added that the fear permeating the area was unbearable.
“My husband and I built that house. It used to be very safe until some herdsmen took over. The thick forest in the area is their safe place. They kidnap people when they’re coming from work and they attack our homes. The FCT Administration is not ready to even fix the road, talk less of coming to our aid.
“I’m moving out with my family. Some people have already relocated from the place. It is better to be a tenant than to become a victim. Abuja is not safe. Herdsmen have taken over the whole area,” she narrated.
An eyewitness told The Cable that the kidnappers operated for three hours from 12am to 3am yesterday. Among those abducted was Abdulahi Idris Rakieu, a retired assistant comptroller of Nigeria Immigration Service alongside two members of his family. Also kidnaped was Olusala Agun.
In some affected parts of Kubwa like Arab Road, NYSC orientation camp axis, residents are relocating to safer areas and are abandoning their houses.
FCT minister of State, Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, who is in charge of Area Councils, said the FCT Police Command and other security agencies are on ground to address the issue.
Reacting through her media aide, Mr. Austin Elemue, she said: “Though the Honourable Minister of State FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has been saddled with the responsibility to oversee the Area Councils in the territory, I must stress that the issue of kidnapping is strictly a security matter.
“The FCT Police Command and other security agencies are on ground to address the issue you raised.”
Reacting through her media aide, Mr. Austin Elemue, she said: “Though the Minister of State FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has been saddled with the responsibility to oversee the Area Councils in the territory, I must stress that the issue of kidnapping is strictly a security matter.The FCT Police Command and other security agencies are on ground to address the issue you raised.”
The Police Command, however, said it has arrested six suspects in Apo over alleged kidnapping.
A statement by Mariam Yusuf, FCT Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Abuja yesterday said the suspects were arrested following credible intelligence report indicating that they had abducted three persons.
Yusuf said the suspects were arrested by police operatives on routine patrol, while attempting to relocate one of their victims.
She said that further investigations led to successful rescue of two other victims who identified the suspects as kidnappers.