Before now, estates in Abuja used to be a haven of peace and tranquillity and that made them the first choice of accommodation for the middle class. Today, that bliss has turned nightmarish. Criminals have invaded these residential areas to steal, harass and vandalise.
Notorious for the swell in crime are estates in Apo and Gudu. Crimes are mostly experienced in January after the Yuletide. The horror is also witnessed during other festive seasons but suffice it to say that residents sleep with one eye closed to safeguard their lives and property.
Although these crimes have been reported severally to the appropriate authorities, no concrete steps to address the frightening anomalies seem to have been taken. Worse still, the estate security networks insist that the environs are well policed and secured, leaving frightened residents to figure out how best to protect themselves.
Daily Sun visited estates in Gudu/Karua District and residents painted unpleasant experiences, buttressing the deteriorating security in the area.
Some have fortified their gates, windows and other access points with heavier burglary fittings. A resident of Prince and Princess Estate, Mr John Ogbu: “I live at Drive 1 of the 1st Gate of the estate.
“I have had at least two experiences with these robbers and I have made reports to the policemen who have come to do an appraisal but it has not yielded positive results.
“A few weeks ago, the robbers came into my compound and carried the petrol generator. They used a jack to push and bend the burglary proof in one of the living room windows. They removed the television set and went into the kitchen to remove foodstuffs like half a bag of rice, carton of noodles and more.
“Next they entered into the room, I guess hoping to get some cash but I woke up and pulled out my bat from under the bed. They scaled out through the fence behind the house. I called the estate security and police, but they couldn’t find the thieves.”
Another resident of the same estate, Eze Michael, said: “Sometime last year, that is earlier in the year, robbers came into my compound at night. They tied the gateman up in the security house. But by the grace of God, they had not gained access into the house before we raised the alarm and they ran away.
“One more experience I had with robbers last year was during the rainy season. We had a terrible flood that broke down my fence at the backyard. While trying to fix the fence, another robbery occurred while they carried some of my work equipment in the store. I made a formal report to the police and estate security. The thieves were not caught and they did not even dignify me with any feedback.”
Residents who live at the Second Gate of the estate spoke on their more palatable experiences. Unlike those living around the First Gate, they are praying fervently for the peace they enjoy to subsist and not snatched by the miscreants tormenting those at the other end of the estate.
Some claim they have pockets of robbery incidents some years ago but things have been generally calm lately: Mrs Cynthia Isaiah from the 4th Drive said: “Over the years that I have lived in this estate, I have heard tales of breaking in around my end but I have not experienced it till January.
“My family and I came back from the Christmas break and it was our first night back. I had a stomp like someone landing on their feet, I stood up and quietly stood up and looked outside. I didn’t see anyone so I went back to bed.
“That was a mistake because unknown to me, a criminal was already in my compound. My instinct was not strong enough to urge me to quickly patrol the compound to see if anything was amiss.
“While I was trying to sleep back, I heard the noise of a metal hitting against another metal. The thief or thieves were trying to open the protective bar on the windows to access the house. By the time I woke my husband up and we called the estate security men, the person had scaled the fence but they stole the cooking gas cylinder outside, which we discovered in the morning.”
For Chinyere Uche, a resident of Sunnyvale Estate, witnessing a robbery incident at home remains a most traumatic experience: “In January last year, I went to work and before leaving, I locked up my house properly. I do thorough check before going to the office or leaving my house at all. It is a standard practice for me.
“However, on this day by the time I got back home, I noticed my front door was slightly open. I hurried straight to the living room and sadly discovered that my television set was missing and my laptop was equally gone. I reported the incident as expected but nothing came out of it.
“The estate security personnel need to do more. They need to be more vigilant and patrol more frequently, especially when people might have gone to work and at night when criminals will want to strike under the cover of darkness.
“These thieves wait to make sure that people are not home and they scale into the compound and steal whatever they can. It is becoming a constant pattern early in the year and I have had a lot of stories from people it happened to and I have experienced it too.”
Residents of these troubled estates have held meetings where it was agreed that the more security personnel be deployed to police the area. Those living in the deepest parts say the area is poorly fenced and hardly patrolled.
They also want more security agents stationed at lonely paths where the miscreants tread. They are appealing for proactive steps in securing the estates so as to prevent the crimes, rather than continually being reactive.