Secure Abuja – Kaduna highway

The appeal by the House of Representatives that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Farouk Yahaya, and the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, should address the rising spate of attacks by bandits and kidnappers on travellers along the Abuja-Kaduna highway and other roads in the country, although, belated, is quite appropriate and commendable.

The House also directed all its committees on security to interface with the security agencies every month and brief the leadership and the entire chamber on a monthly and quarterly basis on what the agencies were doing to address the security crises.

A member of the House, Mohammed Nalaraba, had moved a motion of urgent public importance at the plenary on Wednesday to lament attacks on the road linking Kaduna with the nation’s capital city.

Nalaraba said there were security reports that bandits were regrouping at Rijana village along the Abuja-Kaduna highway. He decried that despite the available intelligence, nothing had been done by security forces to flush them out, adding that criminals were now operating from their new hideouts unhindered.

The lawmaker, who asked why security agents had yet to go after the criminals, said, “Rijana is not like the Zamfara forest; it is a small community and these bandits have regrouped there, and if care is not taken, they will soon move to Suleja and then to Abuja.”

Nalaraba expressed concern over the growing security crises across the country, which, he said, had claimed many lives with no end in sight.

He said bandits have continued to attack travellers on the Abuja-Kaduna highway, killing and abducting Nigerians with impunity.

The lawmaker decried that Nigerian roads, especially the Kaduna-Abuja road that was one of the busiest in the country, were no longer safe, especially on weekends, adding that the situation was so bad that even senior military and security officers with escorts could no longer travel on the road.

“We are working on the 2022 budget and I am aware that a large chunk of money in the budget is going to security, even when Nigerians are dying.

Nalaraba stated that the House, as representatives of the people, should direct security agencies to take immediate action to flush out bandits from their hideouts and make the roads safe for Nigerians to travel.

“The Abuja-Kaduna highway is one of the busiest roads in the country. It is the road used by our farmers in the North to transport their produce to the market in the South. If we can’t go to Kaduna or other parts of the North, then, why are we in the National Assembly?”

In his contribution, Nicholas Ossai also decried that attacks on the roads were now a daily occurrence despite huge allocations to security.

Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered security agencies to improve surveillance on the Abuja-Kaduna highway, which has been a target for bandits, with gunmen abducting or killing travellers plying the route.

It is, indeed sad that the security situation along Abuja – Kaduna highway has become so dire and scary that even the political elite are now endangered. A top politician and 2019 gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara state, Sagir Hamidu Gusau, was shot dead by suspected group of armed bandits at Rijana village, along Abuja- Kaduna highway, penultimate Sunday evening..

The remains of late Gusau was said to be taken by the security operatives to unknown hospital in Kaduna before final handing over of his body to his family Monday morning for burial according to Islamic rights. 

Train services, which were regarded as an option to the increasing cases of violent crimes on the Kaduna-Abuja high way by passengers, including politicians and other influential members of the society, are also not spared, as the Abuja- Kaduna train was recently attacked by bandits.

 The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) confirmed that suspected bandits on had destroyed a portion of the Abuja-Kaduna rail track with explosives, forcing a disruption of train services on the route.

The Managing Director of the NRC, Fidet Okhiria, said the explosives damaged the rail track at a spot between Dutse and Rijana, an area that had recorded numerous bandits’ attacks along the Kaduna – Abuja highway.

Earlier, a former senator representing the Kaduna Central district, Shehu Sani, had reported on his Facebook page that suspected bandits attacked the Kaduna-Abuja train. He said the bandits planted an explosive that damaged the rail track and shattered the windshield of the train’s engine, Wednesday evening.

Mr Sani said the gunmen also opened fire at the train on Thursday morning, targeting the driver and the tank of the train. “It happened between Dutse and Rijana stations. The Driver struggled to move towards Kaduna Rigasa station.

 “This early morning, I was on board when our train ran over another explosive that damaged its railings. The train nearly skidded off its track, then we miraculously escaped,” Sani wrote.

It is quite unfortunate that a strategic national route like the Abuja-Kaduna highway could be so brazenly infiltrated by criminal elements with seemingly helpless and overwhelmed security agencies. This is unacceptable and must be immediately addressed.  We, therefore, urge the House of Representatives to go beyond mere appeals by passing a resolution to compel the security agencies to act decisively in securing the Abuja-Kaduna highway.

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