Insecurity And The Federal Capital

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The security agencies could do more to contain the threat of criminals

While the security and safety of all people in Nigeria remain the primary responsibility of the federal government, we must highlight the strategic importance of Abuja not only as the seat of power but also the home to all foreign embassies and international agencies. If the city is therefore not safe, then the conclusion would be that Nigeria is not safe. That precisely is the situation today with the rising wave of violent crimes within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). What started with occasional cases of opportunistic criminals robbing unsuspecting passengers inside commercial vehicles has since escalated with residents now harassed, brutalised and violated by bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers.

Initially, the rising tide of insecurity was confined to the satellite communities which are home to low income earners. Angry youths bereft of opportunities and others fleeing the war zone in the Northeast had been moving into communities like Kuje and Gwagwalada that are often under attack. Perhaps nothing exemplifies the insecurity in the FCT than what is currently happening at Pegi, a sleepy, serene resettlement community in Kuje area council that is fast becoming a den of Kidnappers. Almost on a daily basis, sporadic gunshots announce the arrival of either kidnappers or armed robbers. On Tuesday, gunmen suspected to be kidnappers abducted three persons along Gaube-Kabbi road in the same Kuje area council. The kidnappers had flagged down a pick-up van heading to a nearby farm to load charcoal and abducted the driver, his conductor and the woman who hired them.

While that axis of the FCT has become notorious for heinous crimes, nowhere can be considered safe. Not even the city centre or highbrow areas like Maitama and Asokoro where armed robbers now operate almost every night. There are also reports of incursions by insurgents. Last September, there was a circular from the Nigeria Customs Service alerting Abuja residents on the existence of terror cells. “Information reaching the Comptroller General of Customs reveals the existence of Boko Haram terrorists in and around the FCT. Further reports have it that they are planning to attack some selected targets within the territory,” the circular said.

When residents of the capital city of a country not only move around with a sense of foreboding and fear but also feel uncertain about the capacity of the authorities to deal with the challenge, then there is a problem. It’s either the security agencies are not doing enough or their response to the challenge has been heavily compromised. More challenging is that the insecurity has since spread from the fringes to the city centre with striking regularity. In one audacious attack, gunmen opened fire on a public transport vehicle and seized some passengers. Last week, a reporter with The Punch newspapers and two others were kidnapped from their residence at Kubwa, Abuja and released days later after ransom was reportedly paid. Reports of kidnap are now almost a daily occurrence while the Abuja-Kaduna highway is still as risky as ever, despite the best efforts of the military and security agencies.

That the nation quivers under threats of unknown colouration, with sundry mischief makers prancing forward to contribute whatever they can for reasons of their own made the Senate to pass another resolution on Wednesday. But the authorities should be worried by latest developments. Debate in the senate over banditry, kidnappings, Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen attacks, among others, nearly degenerated as many of senators clashed along ethno-religious lines. The conclusion at the end of plenary was that President Muhammadu Buhari should act to save the nation from impending anarchy.

It ought to concern the president that confidence in the security agencies is declining at a time when public confidence is rapidly shifting to sectional and regional security arrangements. There is a general apprehension that the authorities are not getting the right information concerning the security situation in the country. And where they are getting such information, they are not well processed. And even when they are, the courage to carry them through is grossly lacking. The implication is that there is no honeymoon period for the newly appointed Service Chiefs. When a government cannot guarantee the security of life and property for citizens and residents in a country, anarchy beckons.

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When residents of the capital city of a country not only move around with a sense of foreboding and fear but also feel uncertain about the capacity of the authorities to deal with the challenge, then there is a problem