Kuje: FCT communities govern by fear despite housing military barrack
Written all over their faces is the fear caused by prolonged haunting by kidnappers in Kuje that dates far back as 2018.
The communities in Kuje are governed by fear despite housing two security agencies, a division of the Nigerian police and a naval barracks.
In a recent attack on the community that happened on Sunday, May 14, no fewer than 15 persons, including a staff member of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), were abducted by gunmen at the 1,000 Housing Estate along Pegi community in the Kuje Area Council of the FCT, Abuja.
One of the abducted persons is a staff member of the FCT Department of Development Control under the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council.
“Gunmen abducted 15 persons along the abandoned 14km Pegi Road. Among those kidnapped was one Shuaibu Musa, a worker with the FCTA.
“The kidnappers have not contacted the families of those abducted at the moment, but we are still trying to identify other abducted residents”, the chairman of Pegi Residents Association, Taiwo Aderibigbe revealed.
Kuje, a Kidnapper haven
Kuje is a Local Government Area in the Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria. It has an area of 1,644 km². These areas have been faced with security threats, including kidnapping for ransom and criminals’ hideouts.
Many residents have left Pegi and its environment due to the kidnapping incidents on the ‘Bush Road’ as called by the locals and within the estate. ‘Bush Road’ is about a 10-minute drive.
Although, findings show that kidnapping cases have reduced drastically in Pegi but are now rampant in other communities while many happened on ‘Bush Road’.
In April, kidnappers raided seven rural communities in the council and abducted scores of villagers within three weeks. Some of the communities raided within the last three weeks by the kidnappers included Godoji, Shazyi, Kiyi, Gbau, Kusaki, Pavu, Sauka extension as well as Anguwar Gede extension all in Kuje area council.
Rampant attacks by the kidnappers have created serious fear among residents of the communities, a situation which has forced some villagers to relocate. Fear still dominates the minds of members of the community who also always look at strangers with suspicion.
Meanwhile, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command had claimed to have invaded the dreaded Dadu hills in Kuje and dislodged bandits in the area. victims.
Forest-like, bad road network
“Two roads lead in the area, one thousand units and the ‘Bush Road.’ When it’s 6 – 7 pm, the place is like a deep forest, I passed through between 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm, I felt like I was going to be kidnapped because of how dark it seemed and the trees that gave it a dangerous shed. A similar road also leads from the Pegi Village to Dafara and Gaube.”
A Security Intelligence Expert who was in Pegi-Kuje for intelligence gathering, Nicholas Ibenu told NIGERIAN TRIBUNE that the area becomes dangerous for commuters plying when it’s dark while he urged military and other security operatives to expect their checkpoint till night.
According to Chief Irimiya G-Isana, the community Leader, who said the kidnappers usually stay on the roads that lead to the villages, noted that “In 2021 we had an incident of kidnappers around the Bush Road.
“Two roads are coming into the community one leads from the Bush Road and the other from One Thousand Units into this community. The Navy has been very instrumental here, since their presence here, the kidnappers have gone back to the inner villages.”
Kidnappers have also extended their evil works to other villages and raided them. Kidnappers raided within the last four weeks Godoji, Shazyi, Kiyi, Gbau, Kusaki, Pavu and Sauka.
Mrs Sarah Diza complained that the community was a relocation settlement by the FCDA, duly signed and inaugurated to exist, but was yet to have a befitting road network.
She urged the government to come to their aid by equipping and increasing the police personnel in the area.
Residents cry out
Zakari Sabo, decried the insecurity in the community in the last two years, adding that some members of the community were kidnapped and ransom paid by the community and families of the victims.
“We believe that the government can act upon our appeal to curtail the situation because they have been doing so in many communities, so much should be replicated in our community,” he said.
According to him, the formation of vigilante groups by the residents of various streets was yet to deter the daily attacks by kidnappers and armed robbers, who sometimes start their operations early.
According to Zakari Madaki, a retired government teacher and also the Imam of the central Mosque who has lived in the community since 1981 said, “In this particular area, the issue of kidnapping has reduced drastically since the presence of the military.
“Just last week over 30 people were kidnapped with their wives and children but the security forces from Lokoja invaded and rescued those people kidnapped. Last year around June, or July, a man, Danlamin was kidnapped and a ransom of N11 million was requested from him and he was held for a month, but security forces from Nasarawa invaded and rescued him.”
Speaking with a Security Intelligence Expert, Ibenu who was in Pegi-Kuje for intelligence gathering noted that the area becomes dangerous for commuters plying when it’s dark while he urged military and other security operatives to expect their checkpoint till night.
According to him, recently, three kidnapper’s informants were arrested by the Navy intelligence in the area. “The personnel living outside the barracks are also helping the security situation in the community since you don’t know who is who.
“I cannot walk at dawn once it’s dark except I’m within the barrack environment. 8:00 pm in the area is already considered late in my view. Also, the government should look towards completing the road from Kuje to Pegi, although they’re tarred roads within one thousand units in Pegi.
“Secondly, residents have been faced with many kidnapping incidents on that road in particular. Government should consider doing something about the link road, also called the ‘Bush Road’ that leads to Pegi or make it more accessible to eye seeing, this will help mitigate security threats, my first experience from the ‘Bush Road’ to the community was very terrible. I thought I was on the wrong route, as we have to drive through for over 10 minutes in a road occupied by cashew trees.
“Government should look towards extending streetlights, improve the road conditions in other to have a swift response on intelligence reports and focus more on clandestine intelligence. My observation here is that, once development, like road improvement, setting up infrastructure, and creating business opportunities that may attract people to the area, the kidnappers shift inward.
“In less than six to seven years, development must have drastically expelled the kidnappers hideous in the inner villages due to the rapid development the Navy barracks has brought there, civilians are now having access to the Navy medical facilities, transport system, academics, and others,” Ibenu said.
When contained, the Public Relations Officer of FCT Command, Josephine Adeh promised to get back to our request based on information received from the field and that series of statements had been issued on efforts of the Police to address the situation.