- Military says preventive measures in place
Kingsley Nwezeh and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
One week after the alert that two terror groups, Boko Haram and Darul Salam, were planning to attack the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kogi and Nasarawa States, gunmen struck yesterday, kidnapping 20 FCT residents in Tungan Maji village near Zuba, an Abuja suburb.
The incident caused panic among the residents of Tunga Maji in Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT.
However, the FCT Police Command said it rescued five of the victims after a fierce shootout with the kidnappers.
The military high command has also assured the people of their safety, saying measures are in place to counter any terror attack.
The alleged threat by the terrorist groups to attack FCT and the neighbouring states had prompted security forces to issue a red alert, leading to the stepping up of surveillance in the targeted areas.
But despite the measures, the kidnappers were said to have stormed the town about midnight on Wednesday, shooting sporadically. The bandits, armed with sophisticated weapons, outgunned local vigilantes and abducted the about 20 people.
Witnesses said the heavy shooting lasted several hours.
“We didn’t sleep throughout the night. It’s this morning that the vigilantes told us about 20 people were abducted,” a witness, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said
A resident of the community, Mr. Ezekiel Denzi, yesterday estimated the number of persons kidnapped at over 30.
The community, according to another resident, Mr. Pius Bala, was attacked about 1.a.m., adding that the local guards were overpowered during the siege.
“We could hardly sleep throughout the night. It was only this morning that we were briefed by the vigilante group that about 20 persons were abducted from the community. It is rather curious that such an incident could happen in this trying time,” he said.
But the FCT Police Command, in a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Anjuguri Manzah, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said a joint team of police operatives from the command’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Rapid Response Squad and Zuba Police Division responded swiftly to the occasion.
“During a fierce gun confrontation with the heavily armed hoodlums, the police team successfully rescued five of the kidnapped victims.
“Meanwhile, a concerted effort has been deployed to rescue the remaining five victims that are still with the hoodlums who escaped into Niger State through a nearby forest that is surrounded by rocky terrain,” it said.
The police reassured the public of their commitment to ensure the security of lives and property in the FCT.
Meanwhile, the military high command has again reassured Nigerians of its preparedness to ensure the protection of lives and property.
Briefing the media in Abuja yesterday, Coordinator of the Directorate of Defence Media Operations (DDMO), Maj. Gen. John Enenche, said measures were in place to guarantee adequate security.
“The Defence Headquarters once again wish to reassure residents of FCT and other adjoining states that the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies have been on red alert to combat crime and ensure effective surveillance of the Federal Capital Territory and other states of the country.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria working together with other security and response agencies, particularly the core intelligence agencies, hereby assure the general public that preventive and preemptive intelligence operations are ongoing. The general public is thus advised to go about their lawful businesses undeterred,” he said.
The military commended troops and personnel of other security agencies for the feats recorded in various operations nationwide.
“Troops are further encouraged to remain dogged and sustain the tempo in all the joint operations areas. The high command of the armed forces also reassures the general public of its unwavering commitment to securing the country for all human activities to strive.
“Members of the general public are, as always, enjoined to continue providing timely information on the activities of criminals in their various localities to the nearest military and other security agencies location for prompt and effective action,” he said.