Kidnapping: Wike fiddles with Rivers politics while Abuja burns

A few years ago, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, was perceived as the safest city anyone could wish to live in. The headquarters of all the security establishments are located in the seat of power and this confers an aura of invincibility on the city and also gives the residents a sense of peace and safety.

However, the situation has deteriorated in the last five years with all manners of criminality pervading the once idyllic boulevards of the city. Robberies, kidnappings, car-snatching and even murders are now commonplace. Strolling on the streets by any resident is now considered a big risk.

Residents who expected the situation to improve with the appointment of the former Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, as the FCT minister are struggling to come to terms with the worsening security situation in the nation’s seat of power.

Not only has the security crisis worsened, but bandits have reportedly moved their camps to the surrounding forests and are abducting the residents from their homes. Abductors confidently demand millions in ransom while running rings around the security agencies.

The FCT Police Command in a recent statement acknowledged the rising abductions but disagreed with the number of reported victims.

Meanwhile, Wike appears to have been distracted by his ongoing squabble with his successor in Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara. While the minister is fighting tooth and nail over the Rivers State ‘’political structure’’ he claimed to have built, bandits, kidnappers, one-chance robbers, and other hoodlums are cashing out big from their criminal enterprise in Abuja.

Data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project indicate that 83 persons were killed and 146 individuals kidnapped between June and December 2023 in the country.

ACLED collects real-time data on the locations, dates, actors, fatalities, and types of all reported political violence and protests around the world.

The latest incident is the abduction of six sisters and their father in the Bwari Area Council of the FCT by bandits on January 13, 2024. The killing of Nabeeha Al-Kadriyar, one of the girls, has generated anger among Nigerians. The sisters were among the 23 others abducted by the bandits who reportedly killed a policeman and injured another one during the attack.

One Folorunsho Ariyo was killed alongside Nabeeha by the hoodlums and their corpses and two other unidentified bodies were reportedly dumped around a former military checkpoint behind Idah Junction along the Bwari-Jere SCC Road in Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

The gunmen had released the girls’ father with an instruction to raise N60m ransom before January 12. Two days later, the hoodlums killed Nabeeha, the eldest of the siblings, and two other victims.

They also jacked up the ransom to N100m after the bereaved father of the murdered girl informed them they were able to raise about N30m. Nabeeha, who was murdered in cold blood, was a 400-level student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

While Nabeeha was not lucky, many others who survived their ordeal in the camp of their abductors would not forget the trauma they went true. On January 7, at about 7:30pm, about 11 persons, including a mother and four children, were kidnapped in the Sagwari Estate Layout, in the Dutse-Alhaji axis of the FCT by gunmen reportedly dressed in military uniforms. The kidnappers were said to have raided two compounds and a hotel where they snatched the receptionist and the barman.

On December 18, 2023, gunmen kidnapped a Nigerian musician, Adeyinka Adeboye, also known as Boyebest, and his crew members, after a performance, demanding a ransom of N10mn each for their release. Also, the President of the Abuja Newspaper Distributors’ Association, John Emmanuel, was kidnapped in a ‘one-chance’ vehicle in the Giri area on December 12. His family and associates coughed out some millions of naira to secure his release.

The dare-devil bandits similarly attacked the Zone 5 segment of the Kubwa Extension 2 Relocation Estate along Arab Road on December 10 where they abducted a woman and her three children, including a six-month-old baby, after shooting indiscriminately, causing pandemonium in the area. Four days earlier, unknown gunmen snatched two landlords in the Asokoro Extension area, demanding N20m ransom for their victims.

In its December 2023 Nigeria Security Report, Beacon Intel, a publication of Beacon Security and Intelligence Limited, said the FCT recorded the highest number of kidnaps in the North-Central region, with 75 people taken hostage.

Commenting on the latest incident, the Nigeria Police Force, through its official X handle, @PoliceNG, said it was “diligently coordinating efforts” to apprehend the kidnappers and rescue the victims.

A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, read, “In the wake of the abduction of six young girls in the Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, it is vital to state that the police force has already initiated a comprehensive plan of action. The force headquarters is diligently coordinating efforts to address this and prevent any further occurrence, as all hands are on deck to rescue the victims.

“The NPF is actively engaging and contacting individuals crucial to the rescue operations and investigation. The objective is not only to bring perpetrators to justice but also to intensify efforts in rescue operations for victims still in captivity.”

Reacting to the killing of Nabeeha in a post on his official X (formerly Twitter) handle on Saturday night, former Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, said he had spoken with the father of Nabeeha over the other kidnapped girls.

“Inna lil Laahi wa inna ilaiHi Raajiun! I just read about the killing of our daughter Nabeeha (400 level, ABU). I also spoke with her father about the remaining five of our kidnapped daughters. May Allah forgive her, rescue others & bring absolute peace to Nigeria,” he said.

He disclosed that his associate offered to pay N50m naira to facilitate the release of the girls.

In another X post, Pantami said, “I am personally not in support of paying ransom to criminals. However, since it became clear, that we lost our daughter Nabeeha yesterday (Saturday), and the five remaining daughters have been threatened, as I spoke with the father on the matter yesterday and today.

“Furthermore, I spoke with a friend and a brother who offered to pay the remaining 50 million Naira of the 60m immediately.”

He lamented the failure of the security agencies to crack down on criminals through the various digital and technological equipment and facilities acquired by the government.

Meanwhile, outraged Nigerians have condemned the insecurity in Abuja and the failure of the authorities to justify their appointments. They also expressed their intention to support the family in raising the ransom.

Former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, on his official X handle, said the country’s security architecture should be rejigged while calling for security agencies to step up actions to rescue the other victims.

“This is yet another reminder that kidnappers and bandits are operating unhindered in our country. The security architecture needs to be rejigged to the extent that it stems from the free rein of criminal elements and guarantees the safety of lives and property.

“The security agencies should step up action to rescue the rest who are still in the custody of the kidnappers. I pray Allah to grant the deceased eternal rest and comfort the family. -AA #Nabeehaandhersisters”, his tweet read.

Former lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sanni, also lent his voice to the issue in a post on his X handle @ShehuSani, stating, “The gruesome murder of Nabeeha Al-kadriyar is a condemnable act of evil before our very eyes. Her death was an avoidable tragedy.

“The perpetrators must be brought to justice. The deterioration of security within the Federal Capital should be a matter of urgent concern to our security services. May her soul rest in peace. Amin.”

In the wake of Nabeeha’s death, outraged netizens have lambasted the government over the recurrent abductions in the FCT.

An X user, @Ethereal_ilo, condemned the government’s swiftness in finding accounts that supported the #Endsars protests and its failure to track down the kidnappers.

“FG sniffed out accounts that donated to #EndSARS. They tracked phone numbers and addresses. But they can’t find the people who kidnapped the #Nabeehahandhersisters.”

The FCT Director of Security, Adamu Gwary, could not be reached for comment on the measures put in place to address the escalating security incidents.

But speaking on the development, the Managing Director, Beacon Security, Dr Kabir Adamu, noted that the FCT security department had failed to put in place efficient and effective security management systems.

“In simple terms, the FCTA, especially its security department and the FCT security committee, has not put in place an effective and efficient security management system that is a combination of people, technology, and systems with the ability for proactive and reactive security including the elements to deter, detect and to delay threat actors.

“The other elements are the ability to respond, review and recover. These six elements have several components that failed when my consultancy did a desktop audit to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the security management system in place in the FCT at the moment,” Adamu said.

“To properly understand the context of my statement, it is important to situate the FCT, Abuja. It shares boundaries with four states that are all security-challenged. These are Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger States.

“All have threat elements including varied forms of non-state armed groups that have the capacity to use the forested and mountainous paths in the border communities of the FCT to these states to come in and attack innocent residents and escape back through the same routes,” he added.

Punch newspaper
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