Tension as gunmen abduct 11 persons in Abuja, environ within 5 days

Abuja City gate

 Barely six months after Niger state Governor Abubakar Sani Bello warned terrorists and related criminals were just “two hours from Abuja”, the Federal Capital Territory has come under attack by the criminal elements.

Following series of attacks on people of the state, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello raised the alarm that the Boko Haram terrorists were trying to make Kaure their home and headquarters like they did in Sambisa forest.

 “I have been engaging the federal government, and unfortunately, it has gotten to this stage, and if care is not taken even Abuja is not safe. We have been saying this for long and all efforts have been in vain,” Bello had said.

 “While Sambisa forest is several kilometers away from Abuja, Kaure is only two hours drive to Abuja,” the governor further added.

The attacks   

In May this year, some students and staff members of the University of Abuja were reportedly held hostage by unknown gunmen for over six hours until the military formation located adjacent the school came to their rescue. 

Although no report of casualties in all the attacks so far recorded, Blueprint gathered that in just five days of their incursion into the nation’s seat of power and its environs, the criminal elements have abducted not less than 11 people at different times from different locations.

While there had been pockets of abduction around Abuja and its environs, the intensity in the last five days is causing tension and has become a source of worry and concern to residents who “do not have the feeling of being safe again.”    

It was gathered that the security breach started Saturday when gunmen hit the staff quarters of Junior Secondary School Yebu in Kwali Area Council of Abuja and abducted the Vice Principal, Mohammed Nuhu.

Nuhu’s abduction was not in the public domain until after a similar one at the University of Abuja where a lecturer and some five others were kidnapped in the early hours of Tuesday.

According to reports, the gunmen came in numbers and began to shoot fiercely into the air to wade off possible opposition from other residents who might attempt coming to the VP’s rescue.

And to further ease their operations, sources told Blueprint the security personnel manning the gate was tied by the hoodlums.

 Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) wing of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Stephen Knabayi, confirmed the abduction and said the captors were yet to reach out to relations of the victim as at the time of this report.

The UNIABUAJA attack

And following closely Tuesday was another abduction of a University of Abuja teacher and Professor of Economics, his two children and some three others.

Reports said they were all abducted within the university quarters.

The abductors, we reliably gathered, had since reached out to the families of their victims.

To let them off the hook, the criminals are placing a N300 million ransom on the six persons at N50 million per head.

Yet another attack on UniAbuja

 And just 24 hours after, the university came under yet another attack Wednesday.

A student who craved anonymity for fear of possible target by the hoodlums or their informants told Blueprint some unknown persons with suspected stolen vehicle stuffed with weapons gained entry into the school, harnessed some students at the entrance and collected their belongings.

“They still went into an office, and attacked a lecturer with Economics Department Professor David Okoroafor. The lecturer teaches Mathematics in the department.

“They made attempts to collect the lecturer’s phone and other belongings before students who saw them earlier raised the alarm, then security men within the school went after them.

“Due to fear and anxiety, a scheduled lecture in our class was hastily put off because the lecturer in charge called to tell us he won’t be in class again. By the time we came out, others were already leaving the school premises,” said the source.

Also, another anonymous student said students living within and outside the school premises now lived in fear, as cultists  now attack students and others around.

He said: “The cultists harass people mostly at night around Bob H area, behind the boys’ hostel in Gwagwalada.

“In the past three weeks, the unknown persons with weapons have been terrorising female hostel close to school. They collect their phones and other belongings unchallenged.”

These ugly developments had put a number schools  in Kuje Area Council  of the  FCT on red alert.

Blueprint had reported that schools within these places had taken extra security measures to safeguard the students, while the police were said to have agreed to establish their presence at strategic locations around the schools in these places.

Suleja attack

And from Suleja, a suburb of Abuja in Niger state, the Police Thursday confirmed the abduction of four women by gunmen at Haske Dabara community, Angwan Gwari Kwamba of Suleja local government area of the state.

Niger state Commissioner of Police Monday Kuryas confirmed the incident in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna.

“Yes it has happened at about 1 a.m. last night and already anti-kidnapping team, the army and vigilante had been deployed to rescue the victims.

“We will do everything humanly possible to apprehend all those miscreants undermining the peaceful coexistence among residents.

“I am appealing to residents, especially rural dwellers, to come forward with credible information on movement of strange faces among them to the nearest security personnel for necessary security action”, he said.

The commissioner solicited more working support by coming forward with intelligence information that could aid the security personnel deployed across the state in the ongoing fight against kidnapping, banditry and other criminal elements in the state.

An eyewitness said the gunmen entered the community at about 12.46 a.m. with gunshots that scared the residents.

Residents fear

The spate of attacks has become a major source of worry to residents of the FCT.

In a chat with our reporters, Asake Muftau who resides in Jikowyi, an Abuja suburb, said:    “We woke up to gridlock on Wednesday and we were told that some people are plotting to attack Abuja. So, the soldiers stationed at Karu Bridge are searching vehicles. But is that the best way to prevent an attack? Certainly No.

“Because of this threat, we now live in fear and the soldiers make it worse by mounting roadblocks on the road. Now, I am extremely careful where I go and who comes around me and my family.

“In my opinion, our security personnel need to change their tactics. This habitual roadblock or stop and search has never prevented an attack. When Shi’ites wanted to protest they blocked the road, yet they protested inside the city centre. Despite the roadblock, attacks still occur.  Would it not be more dangerous and deadly when motorists who are held up by their roadblock are attacked?  So we now live in fear, even in traffic and the roadblock has created more hardship for many of us.”

Another resident of Nyanya, Aminu Abdullahi said the tension over possible attacks on and in Abuja should be of concern to everyone, urging the security personnel to do more than ” stop and search.

“The security situation in Nigeria and Abuja too is very worrisome. And this is affecting everything that we do. It is affecting our business, movement and our family. For how long are we going to continue?

“Security agencies must do more than stop and search, they should be very proactive in their operation. When you block roads, do you think criminals will not find alternative route? Our security personnel need to do more intelligence gathering and be very proactive in defending citizens.”

Expressing similar worry, a businessman and resident of the FCT, Alhaji Adamu Abdullahi, who resides at Nyanya area described the situation as a surprising development.

Abdullahi said: “It’s a reflection of the appalling security situation in the country. For me, it’s a wakeup call on the authorities to think out of the box to nip the menace of banditry and kidnapping in the bud. The eye service approach of roadblock is simply scraping the problem on the surface. 

“We need intelligence gathering to fish out the bad eggs in our society. Those who steal our security votes should be reminded that they have no hiding place any longer as these bandits are beginning to zero in on the elites.”

Also, Malam Sabi Baruten, an Abuja-based politician, said any attack in the FCT is an attack to the entire nation.

“Look, the situation in the FCT and even Nigeria as a whole concerning insecurity and the purported planned invasion of the nation’s capital by bandits or whatever you call them, is something that should worry everyone. 

“Today, FCT is home to Nigerians, there’s no tribe no matter how micro it is, that is not represented here. So any attack in the FCT is an attack on the entire nation.

“What should concern us as residents here is the porosity of all the entry routes to the FCT. My humble appeal to the relevant authorities, especially those in charge of gathering intelligent reports is to collaborate and increase synergy to beef up security.

“I know they can do it the same way the current Buhari led administration has succeeded in stopping bombings within and around the FCT common during the last administration of PDP.”

Also, Hajia Khadija Abdul, a respondent who lives in Kubwa, a satellite town in the FCT said, “It’s high time the security agencies did more to stop this. Attack on Abuja has the tendency to spark off ethno-religious war. Truth be told, we just do not have the feeling of being safe again in Abuja.

“Here in Kubwa, we once experienced kidnap of people. The right attention was not given to the incident.  Let us not pretend that all is well. Irrespective of whatever the government says, honestly Abuja is not safe. Let us continue to pray, be vigilant and cooperate with security agencies by giving the right information that could lead to neutralising these criminals.”

‘No cause for alarm’

And amidst the fear among residents, the FCT Police Command assured residents of their safety, saying there is no cause for alarm.

Although Blueprint could not reach the command’s spokesperson, DSP Josephine Adeh, Thursday, a statement issued on the UniAbuja attack Wednesday, had assured the FCT residents of their safety.

Quoting FCT Commissioner of Police  Babaji Sunday, the spokesperson said, “the command pledges its undeterred resolve to ensure lives and properties of residents within the FCT are protected and urge them to report all suspicious movements, emergency or distress, through these numbers: 08032003913, 08061581938, 07057337653 and 08028940883.”