Residents of Kuje Area Council, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are practically under siege. The blockade followed the resurgence of robbery in the area. Homes are being invaded, shops looted and hapless citizens dispossessed of their valuables along the road at late hours by robbers who are getting more daring by the day.
The insecurity became more evident after the ban of commercial motorcycles (Okada) within the heart of the council in the peak of the lockdown. It was like fuelling the already worrisome situation, as armed robbers became more dangerously audacious to the point of moving from shop to shop in the early hours of the night, dispossessing shop owners of their daily sales unchallenged.
A resident of Kuje, Obinna, recalled how May 7, 2020, would forever remain a date he would not want to forget in a hurry. That day, dare-devil armed robbers, numbering up to four, invaded his home at Agwanjede Extension, threatened him with cutlass and other dangerous weapons, before stripping his family of valuables, in an operation that lasted less than one hour.
“It was actually a very bad experience I tried effortlessly to push behind me. It happened on May 7, 2020, around 7.30pm. I was watching a movie with my wife, when I heard a loud bang on my door. I became surprised and asked my wife, did they shoot gun in this movie? My wife looked outside and saw someone running out of the compound. I alerted my neighbour and we went round the compound with torchlight searching for any human presence.
“As we retired to bed around few minutes to midnight, we heard footsteps outside, meaning that they were back again scaling through my dwarf fence. But before I could do anything, I heard someone pull down my window net before they hauled a heavy stone on the window that pulled down the burglary proof. I quickly dialled my neighbour but before we could say anything, they had swooped on me, collecting my handset.
“They ordered me to lie face down and started removing my belongings. They collected my laptop, wife’s bag containing her cloths and ornaments, our phones, all the cash in the house. They wanted to pull down the television before my neighbour shotgun, which scared them. They disappeared with the ones they collected including the key to my entrance door.
“I reported the case to the police in the morning; they came around, took photographs but never did anything. They instead told me to give them N20,000 to commence investigation with tracking them through my stolen phone.
“I did not give them the money because that was exactly what they did to my friend who was robbed in Kuje previously. They collected his N20,000 but never got back to him again. He just relocated out of Kuje because of the trauma of the robbery.
“I cannot quantify what I lost in terms of naira and kobo. The most painful one was losing the contacts and materials on my phone. I had so much on that phone. I just pray they wipe the phone otherwise I will be finished if they go through that phone.
“I prayed fervently that they would not rape my wife and descend on me with their cutlasses and other weapons. My saving grace was that I surrendered without questioning them, gave they everything they asked for, though they were not aggressive. I never for once regretted parking into my house but I had to relocate my wife to a relative’s house when the trauma and fear of their coming back became unbearable to her.”
An architect, living around Muslim Cemetery in Kuje also narrated how robbers invaded the home of a neighbour, a policeman and kicked the pregnant wife on her tommy before robbing them that night:
“But what surprised me was why the policeman would have a gun at home but watched the robbers kick his wife without defending his wife. I don’t know why he did not use that gun in his custody.
“They robbed only that house, disappeared with their valuables. Since then we never experienced any robbery attack, even though we had to organise vigilante we pay every month end to secure our area.”
In the same area, a robber cheated death by the whiskers when residents almost lynched him. They even tempted to burn him alive with tyre and fuel but for the intervention of good spirited ones among them who pleaded they spare his life and hand him over to the police.
The experiences of the victims of the robbery attacks were child’s play compared to the ones settlers at Kayada area of Kuje, had early this year. Robbers inflicted serious injuries on the residents when they operated for hours without intervention from any security agent.
Delta State-born woman, Chichi, said: “Blood flowed like river that night. It was a day of tears and blood for the residents. The robbers did not spare anybody. The most painful part of it was that even when you gave them all that they demanded, they still stabbed at least a member of the household. They came prepared, took their time and collected every available valuable they could lay their hands on in an operation that lasted several hours.
“They collected flat screen television sets, home theatres, expensive jewellery, cloths, bags, name it. If it were possible for them to take the seats in the living rooms, they would have done that because they would empty everything in the house.
“The police were nowhere to be found. Yet, residents had to storm the police station in the pool of their blood from the stabbing by the robbers.
“The General Hospital, Kuje, could not manage some cases. It could not cope with the number of victims the robbers inflicted injuries. Few months after the robbery, the security agents could not trace the robbers or recover what they stole from the residents.
“Some of them had to park out of the area for fear that the robbers may return. It has become difficult for many residents to replace the stolen valuables especially the situation we found ourselves under COVID-19. Four months after, many are still battling to overcome the trauma of the robbery incident.”
However, if you think the incidences above were gory enough, the new crime wave that sprang up in the months of April and May was enough to eclipse them. Robbery incidents have deepened in Kuje to the extent of criminal gangs, numbering over 20 deadly-looking young men, armed to the teeth, unleashing terror on shop owners at Shedadi area of Kuje
A barber who spoke in confidence described the new robbery wave as worrisome: “This is really a new robbery trend in Kuje. Most shop owners now close as early as possible because of the fear of the boys. Numbering over 20 boys armed with cutlasses and sticks, they attack any shop they like, collect the owner’s daily sales, handsets and move to the next shop.
“While some of them carry out the operation, others would block any person from passing along the area until the operation is over. Sometimes, those robbers stopping people from passing do also collect their bags especially those that tried to resist their order.”
Another resident, Ibrahim, narrated: “Thank God some of them have been arrested. Surprisingly, they are relatively very young boys with an average age of 14 years. None of them is above 18 years of age.
“They operated majorly around Hajiya Zara side linking to Shedadi. Most of their victims were admitted in the hospitals. From investigations, they are not Hausa boys or banned Okada riders, but majorly indigenes relatively very young. Information had it that they graduated from cultism to robbery, though they were ferocious in their operation, they never operated with guns.
“Otherwise they would have been more deadly. The good news, however, is that the security agents are on their trail now otherwise Kuje would have become a no-go-area judging by the modus operandi those boys operating unchallenged. Since they started picking them, the area has become very calm now.”
An Immigration Officer, told Daily Sun in confidence: “I was deeply involved in rescuing some young innocent boys arrested during a raid of the area by the Army in a sting operation. Thank God the relevant authorities acted on time otherwise those boys would have made Kuje a hostile place to live.”