SECURITY CHALLENGES IN FCT

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There is urgent need for the authorities to take the issue of security more seriously within the FCT

The recent abduction of some persons by people suspected to be a gang of hoodlums in Darka Village in Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has called to question the security situation in the seat of political power. According to reports, the remote and isolated village in Kuje Area Council was visited by some deadly marauders and by the time they were through with their operation, no fewer than 10 persons, including young girls, were forcefully taken away from their parents. A few people were also killed.

However, we must commend the FCT Police Command for leading the operation that eventually led to the rescue of those taken hostage. The police, in a statement, said the stronghold of the attackers who specialised in raiding remote communities at night and robbing the villagers of cash and other valuables was destroyed during the operation. Regrettably, an operative of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) ASC Anumudu Uche, was killed in the process. While we commiserate with his family, we also hope they will not be abandoned by the authorities.

But if there is any lesson to learn from the tragedy, it is in the fact that Abuja is vulnerable. Even though the FCT Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Bello and the FCT Commissioner of Police, Muhammadu Mustafa, have reassured the residents of the affected villages of the massive deployment of security personnel to forestall a recurrence, we strongly believe there is urgent need for the authorities to re-examine the security arrangement in the nation’s capital territory.

Given the current socio-political and economic challenges in the country, we will be compounding the problems if we create the impression, either by omission or commission, that the nation’s capital city is not safe. That is not the kind of signal we should be sending to the world at such a time as this when there is an urgent need to grow the economy.

Apart from the economic recession-induced security challenge in the country which is very pronounced in FCT, the problem has been aggravated by the incursion of herders who are escaping worsening environmental conditions in the North-east/ North-west zones of the country. Soil erosion from destructive agricultural practices and overgrazing, along with shifting weather patterns attributed to climate change, and the dangerous security situation caused by the terrorist group Boko Haram, have transformed vast tracts of grassland into unfriendly areas, driving many pastoralists to flee. And this has placed additional pressure on land resources already being fought over by competing communities.

It is suspected that these new arrivals into the North Central zone, including Abuja, generally lack any familiarity with local grazing routes or the surrounding populations, raising the likelihood of violent misunderstandings occurring. This calls for urgent intervention by the necessary authorities in the FCT.

In the past, traditional leaders could have played an important role in intervening in some of these disputes that now border on criminality. Regrettably, many of them now command little or no influence over their subjects. And deprived of opportunities to peacefully resolve disagreements over access to resources, many pastoralists seem to consider force as their only viable option. In the case of Abuja, the cow herders, who have several times been banned from the city, now behave as though above the law, operating freely every day and everywhere.

What the foregoing suggests is that there is an urgent need for the authorities to take the issue of security much more seriously within the FCT. Apart from physical security measures, the FCT and area councils should also devise measures to mitigate the ever-increasing economic hardship enveloping the citizens so as to reduce from the pool where criminals can recruit other members.