Pegi: Resettlement Haunted by Kidnappers 

0

Pegi is a community in the Kuje Area Council of Abuja. The plight of the dwellers of the community came to public light last year when its tranquility was truncated by kidnappers, who abducted some residents and killed a paramilitary officer, Olawale Ajimotokan and Udora Orizu report

Traces of its haunted past are written all over Pegi, a forested community in the Kuje Area Council of FCT. Fear still dominates the minds of members of the community who also always look at strangers with suspicion.

The reason for this is not farfetched: last year, one member of the community was killed, while nine residents were abducted in a coordinated, swift action by gun wielding kidnappers, who stormed the community when the residents were having their dinner.

Although the abducted residents were eventually released upon the payment of ransom, the entire episode has remained like a scar that could not be removed from the memory of the people.

The Pegi resettlement in Kuje, which measures 85,000 square meters, is touted as the largest resettlement in the country. It was established under the

administration of Mallam Nasir El- Rufai, when he was the minister of the FCT.

Last year’s incident was the second time that kidnappers would be striking in the community in a spate of two years. The first episode happened on December 6, 2018, although it was not on the same scale as the second attack that took place on October 7, 2019.

An officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, in the person of Samuel Akor, died from the gunshot injuries he sustained, nine days after last year’s attack on the community.

Residents revealed that the felons made their escape through an isolated and bumpy stretch of dirt road known as “Bush path”.

A member of the community, Johnson Odoh, said that it is only when security in the community is addressed that kidnapping can be tackled and the people can sleep with their eyes closed.

“Pegi community comprises zones A to E. In terms of security the major issue is because of this road known as the “Bush Path”. The criminals always strike there and during raining season the road is deplorable. Once the road is not done, I don’t think security issue will be settled. Sometimes when it happens policemen will come around for some couple of days and after that they withdraw again.

“Government should give us a police station or do the roads. The police station here is just for the name, they have no manpower. We need a proper, well manned police station,” Odoh declared.

However, the Chairman Pegi Community Development Association, Taiwo Aderibigbe lamented in no uncertain terms that the criminal elements were only leveraging on the failure of government to support projects that will benefit the community, which is in the heart of Abuja and surrounded by forests.

“This community came into limelight on aspect of crime in the year 2018, on December 6 when the first kidnap incident took place in our community, though it was not well reported in the media. One year later, on October 7 2019, they struck on the same spot where the first one took place.

“Nine members of this community were abducted, unfortunately we lost one of them, he was not abducted alongside the nine; he sustained gunshots injuries and died nine days after, in person of Chief Superintendent of Corps (CSC) Samuel Akor.

“On October 9, 2019, the community staged a protest to Kuje Area Council Secretariat and the FCT Administration office at Area 11, the minister of state received us and promised that they will look into infrastructural deficit in the community and address security situation,” Aderibigbe said.

He expressed hope that crime will be a thing of the past if roads are constructed and utmost attention is paid to infrastructure development in the community.

“We wish to thank the present leadership of the FCT. The FCT Minister Mallam Mohammed Bello and the Minister of state for FCT Dr Ramatu Tijani Aliu. They made a promise and now I can authoritatively say contractors are already bidding for the construction of the roads. They are in the process of re-awarding contract for the roads.

“Of course the impassable road is a major factor because the criminals capitalise on that fact to take advantage of motorists and commuters while they are going out. If only the roads can be constructed and they pay utmost attention to infrastructural development in Pegi, crime will be a thing of the past,” he said.

He noted further that for a community which about 17,000 inhabitants regard as home, the residents will be delighted if government can open up the estate link road and every other road that can connect it with other parts of Abuja, particularly Apo.

While reinforcing Aderibigbe’s position, the deputy chairman of the community association, Onyekaozuru  Umezurike, said the security in the community is loose because the infrastructure is lacking.

He said that criminals are taking advantage of the bad road to carry out their nefarious act.

“The major problem about security is that the infrastructure is not there. Kidnapping is possible in the area because the road is bad. The only thing that will bring us to the level of other FCT communities is for the roads to be done. Even the police are finding it difficult to access the area because of bad roads. The major impediment about Pegi community is infrastructure, particularly the roads,” Umezurike insisted.

Pegi was conceived as a model community for settlers displaced from Abuja city centre about 14 years ago after their houses were demolished. Over 75 per cent of the residents are civil servants and low income earners.

However, Aderibigbe regretted that the philosophy behind the creation of the community has not been realised many years down the road.

“When El-Rufai set up this community, he assured the settlers whose houses were demolished of better provision, which informed his decision to call a foreign town planning consultant and involve the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners and other town planners in the FCT.

They redesigned this resettlement and proposed infrastructural facilities that will make this place a better place for inhabitants, but unfortunately what would have been a blessing to them has become a course.

“Majority of the residents in this community are civil servants, low income earners so it is expected that they will acquire properties to their taste. So the automobiles moving here seem to be attracting the kidnappers. Also we cannot rule out the fact that there are insiders who give out information. If only government had not neglected this place in the last 14 years, security would have been a blessing to every inhabitant here.

The only navy barracks in the FCT is in our community and yet we are suffering. We have been fighting to right all the wrongs of the past,”