IN DETAILS: Untold story of the endless kidnappings in Abuja
In recent times, Kaduna-Abuja highway of more than 200 kilometres as a gateway to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has been in the news for notoriety in kidnapping, banditry and robbery, among others, observers note.
They observe further that due to poor road network that has allowed this development, travelling on the highway has become a nightmare to motorists.
Serving state and federal lawmakers, foreign expatriates, high-profile persons and a former minister, have been reported kidnapped on this highway.
Concerned residents of FCT have, on many occasions, expressed concern about frequent incidences of kidnapping among other security challenges in FCT which they observe as a strange development.
Some of the residents suspect that since FCT is bordered by states where kidnapping is rampant — in the north by Kaduna State, South-East by Nasarawa State, South-West by Kogi and in the West by Niger — kidnapping activities are possibly slurring into the territory from the neighbouring states.
But Mrs Mariam Jaiyeoba, a resident of FCT, notes that whether or not the bandits and kidnappers infiltrate FCT via border communities, the response ought to be the way forward to check kidnapping and other security challenges in FCT.
In apparent response to Jaiyeoba, Mr Joshua Ibiloye, a Deputy Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), said that terrorism and kidnapping, which were not known in Nigeria in the past, had now become rampant, even in FCT.
Speaking on behalf of Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola at a security meeting in Abuja, he observed that security agencies must work together to win the war against kidnapping and other crimes.
“Fight against insurgency and kidnapping is asymmetric warfare where those engaged in them do not respect or comply with international laws of engagement. They kill women, children and the aged.
“We are all at risk, thus, there is need for synergy, we can’t win in such war unless and until security agencies synergise effectively and improve on intelligence gathering and sharing. We should be proactive than reactive.
“Also, security agencies need to win the trust of the people through advocacy; at times, citizens do not trust security agencies, thus we need to win their trust to make us do better,’’ he said.
He also suggested that there was need to end proliferation of light weapons across the country to minimise or eliminate crimes.
Similarly, the NSCDC says it has deployed military trained personnel to combat kidnappers and guarantee security.
Mr Ahmed Audi, Commandant-General of the defence corps, said that the personnel deployed were trained to combat asymmetric warfare, assuring Nigerians of the corps’ capacity to check insecurity.
However, the Police Command in FCT says it has stepped up its operations to stimulate aggressive fight against kidnapping and banditry in the territory.
ASP Mariam Yusuf, FCT Police Public Relations Officer, said due to intensified fight against kidnapping, the command had in recent time arrested many suspected kidnappers, including six kidnapping suspects in Apo, FCT.
Yusuf said that the suspects were arrested following credible intelligence report, indicating that they had abducted three persons.
She 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.
In another instance, Yusuf noted that children between the ages of two years to 13 years were taken from their parents by suspected traffickers in February in Lapai, Niger, with the pretext of providing them education.
She said that investigation revealed that the traffickers distributed the children to different people, noting that the suspects would be arraigned in court after investigation.
She also said that the command had deployed covert and overt crime fighting strategies to strengthen security across the FCT, especially in areas with cumbersome terrain.
Yusuf said that the command was working closely with sister security agencies, key stakeholders and community leaders to rid the FCT of criminal elements.
She called on residents to remain calm and law-abiding, enjoining them to report suspicious persons or activities around their vicinity to the nearest police division via any of the FCT Police Command Control numbers: 08032003913, 08061581938, 07057337653 and 08028940883.
As part of efforts at ridding the FCT of kidnapping and other security challenges, the Nigeria Police say the force secured the release of Mr John Makama, father of Bwari Area Council Chairman, Mr John Gabaya, and two others who were kidnapped on Feb. 2 in FCT.
Divisional Police Officer in charge of Bwari Police Station, Mr Biodun Makanjuola, said that Gabaya and the other captives were released but he could not ascertain whether or not any ransom was paid by the family members.
Makanjuola said that Makama was released alongside two other family members unhurt and had since returned to their home in Tokolo village in Bwari.
He also said that four persons were earlier arrested in connection with the crime and were kept in custody.
Similarly, following rising cases of abduction in the Federal Capital Territory, the Nigeria Police in February, deployed 150 operatives, including riot policemen and special forces in Abuja.
The police believe that the personnel will beef up security in the nation’s capital described as the target of kidnappers recently.
The police also assure the public that the deployment will strengthen security, dismantle and dislodge all criminal hideouts, especially kidnappers’ camps within the FCT.
Giving the residents of FCT further assurance of safety, Mr Abdullahi Candido, the Chairman, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), said that his administration established a community policing security outfit known as the AMAC Marshals.
He said that the security outfit that has been working with NSCDC was established to argument the efforts of the conventional security to protect lives and property of residents.
But Mrs Kemi Okenyodo, a governance, security and gender expert, believes that ransom payment has made abductions lucrative for criminal gangs.
“The decision on payment of ransom should be reviewed. What are the best steps to take in preventing the abductions so we avoid the payment of ransom’’, she asked.
Sharing similar sentiments, analysts note that the adverse effects of kidnapping in the country have become worrisome.
According to them, state governments must review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles as such a policy has the potential to backfire with disastrous consequences.
They, nonetheless, suggest ways to prevent kidnapping, including stopping routine movement and avoiding discussion on family members and money matters in public.
Among other precautions, they advise to do proper checks before employing workers and to avoid flamboyant lifestyle; never to reveal too much about oneself and family members via social media.
According to them, getting too close to a stranger could be dangerous and letting someone know our whereabouts would help in avoiding kidnapping.
They advise further never to reveal addresses and places you frequent on social media as kidnappers rely on such information.
All in all, security experts advise that whenever we notice any threat of kidnap around us, we must attract the attention of people around by screaming or shouting until people gather around to rescue.