Posted by Terkula Igidi, Taiwo Adeniyi & Abubakar Sadiq Isah | 11 July 2017 | 2,118 times
Hoodlums are taking advantage of poorly lit Abuja metropolis to attack and rob residents during late hours, findings have shown.
Our reporters gathered that most of the street lights in places like Kubwa, Wuse, Maitama, Gwarinpa, Mabushi, Garki Area 1, 3 and 11, AYA, Apo and Lugbe, are not functioning as most of them have been vandalised.
Other black spots to be avoided at dawn or late evening residents say are Berger Roundabout, Ministers’ Hill, pedestrian bridge in front of the VIO office, NICON Junction, Maitama, up to Banex in Wuse II, Scenes on Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent and Wuse II
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has the second crimes rate in the country after Lagos State, according to official figures from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The NBS report released in June disclosed that of the 13,181 cases in the FCT, there were 9,350 cases of “offenses against property.”
These include stealing, robbery, burglary, house breaking, receiving stolen property, obtaining and property by false pretence.
According to residents, criminals also take advantage of the darkness to snatch cars, assault, rape their victims or even commit murder.
Narrating his ordeal, an Abuja resident, Kabir AbdulRaheem, explained how he was attacked at the Berger Roundabout around 5am after he had finished his night duty at his office in Utako.
He said he was waiting at the Berger Roundabout to board a vehicle to Lugbe when he saw three men approaching him. Before he could understand what their mission was, they pounced on him, punching him and tearing out his trousers’ pockets.
He said they left him with a black eye and some bruises on his arms and face and fled with his mobile phone and some cash he had in his pocket.
“This happened barely a month after I was attacked in a similar manner around Ministers’ Hill at Maitama,” he said.
Findings have revealed that some places in the Abuja city centre and the suburbs are becoming increasingly dangerous due to the activities of miscreants who operate, mostly, at odd hours, either at dawn or at night.
In places like Mabushi, the hoodlums prowl around the pedestrian bridge in front of the VIO office and wait for their victims.
Nura Lawal, a resident, said he was attacked at the bridge recently, while he was crossing the road.
He said he quietly handed over his Infinix mobile phone to them when they waylaid him and demanded that he handed over his belongings.
“I was lucky to escape unhurt. I think I did the right thing by surrendering everything to them,” he said.
A cross section of residents who spoke to our reporters said the hoodlums hibernate in groups in uncompleted buildings, deserted streets, underdeveloped plots, pedestrian bridges, overhead bridges, major traffic intersections and highways with speed breakers.
Others, our reporters gathered, operate as taxi drivers in cohort with their accomplices pretending to be passengers, and rob other passengers of their belongings at isolated and dark areas.
“I boarded a taxi at Gwarinpa Model City gate by the Murtala Mohammed Expressway going to the city centre only to be robbed along with three other passengers. They then forced us out of the car,” said Tess Ata, a victim of criminals commonly referred to as “one chance.”
She said all the passengers in the car were dispossessed of their money, handsets and other things, making her ask for help before she could reach her office in Garki.
Recently, the Gwarinpa Police Division arrested 50 people over allegation of public nuisance in Kuchi Bena, an urban slum, alleged to be notorious for illicit drugs dealings and a hideout for suspected criminals.
The Gwarimpa bye-pass is also identified as a black spot where crimes are being perpetrated, especially under the fly-over bridge.
It was learnt that there have been cases of car snatching and ‘one chance’, especially during weekends when they area appear to be quieter.
A man, who gave his name only as Maxwell, said the car snatchers mostly operate between 5 and 6 pm in the evenings.
NICON Junction, Maitama, up to Banex in Wuse II, appear to be dangerous at odd hours, as ‘one chance’ drivers pick up victims and dispossessed them of their belongs.
One of our reporters gathered that the syndicates operate mostly late evenings when people close from work or are returning from journeys.
“A woman who arrived from Kaduna and alighted at the NICON Junction to board a taxi to Wuse II was robbed by “one chance” cab operators after they picked her up as a passenger,” a resident who would not want to be named said.
“Scenes on Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse II, at night are quite disturbing. They don’t hide their trades as drug hawkers would walk to your car demanding if you were interested while the number of call girls ambling by the sidewalk is alarming,” a resident who pleaded anonymity said.
She said while the busy areas swells of commercial activities at day time, it boils to the brim with drugs and prostitution at night, and sometimes up to the early hours of day.
The areas around Apo Roundabout up to Area 3 Junction and Area 1 Roundabout appear to be unsafe at odd hours.
Uphill, close to the Apo roundabout, is a junkyard called Bakassi, where criminals allegedly lurk and attack their victims.
One of our reporters who visited the place recently, saw a big market for drugs and items alleged to be stolen. The items included handsets, shoes, bags and electronics.
Our reporter learnt that their activities were overseen by some “executive” members headed by a “chairman,” who ensures that no intruder causes problem for them. They are alert and very suspicious of strangers visiting the place.
A resident of Apo, Mohammed Aliyu, said it was surprising that such place still exists in the territory despite its proximity to the FCT Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) office.
He said most of the hoodlums disguise as scavengers or motor park touts to unleash mayhem on residents at night especially people waiting at the roundabout to board vehicles to Nyanya or Mararaba.
“This is to say that they are doing all this under the nose of the police,” he alleged.
He said the police raided the area recently but was surprised that the hoodlums regrouped and went back to the hideout immediately.
Some residents who spoke to Daily Trust under condition of anonymity said the Area one Roundabout, under the bridge, is always dangerous late evenings and at dawn.
They said the hoodlums who attack victims there hibernate at the Abuja Urban Mass Transit Park in the area.
Findings also revealed that Area 3 Junction up to Yaliam Press and around the Area 3 market are black spots.
A female victim, who gave her name simply as Stella, said she was attacked a few weeks ago while trekking out of the market.
She said the hoodlums collect her phones and money while other residents walked passed by as if nothing was happening.
A resident, Mrs Adeola, said a pastor was also robbed along Galadimawa-Apo expressway.
“He was coming from church at night and as he slowed down at the speed breaker, someone opened the vehicle and quickly picked the purse on the passenger’s seat, not knowing it was his Bible and other things,” she said.
“A woman’s car was broken into and her handbag taken while she slowed down at the bump. The hoodlums ran into the bush while she parked and was shouting for help because she couldn’t run after them in the dark,” another resident, Emmanuel Pwajok, said adding that many atrocities are committed along the road especially to female drivers.
Reacting, the FCT Police Command spokesperson, ASP Usen Omorodion, said the police have not relented in ensuring that FCT is safe.
“The machinery has been in top gear and officers are posted at strategic points within the city centre and environs to ensure safety,” he said.
He said crime is not particular to only FCT as it is a worldwide epidemic, “So we want to assure the people of the FCT that the police is not sleeping and we want to assure them of their safety at all times and they should always share information with us as quickly as possible in order to ensure prompt response.”
“I believe there will be a difference in this year’s statistics because the relationship between the police and the public has improved in the past one year,” he said.
•Excerpted from a Daily Trust report.
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