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Insecurity: Is Nigeria’s seat of power beleaguered?

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Following the growing insecurity in the nation’s capital as well as other parts of the country, residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially the satellite towns, are now living under fear and anxiety attack.

Persecondnews recalls that in June 2022, a band of terrorists numbering over 100 attacked the Kuje Medium Custodial Centre in the FCT at 10.00p.m with explosives and other sophisticated weapons, freeing over 600 inmates including some of convicted their members.

According to the Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore, those behind the attack were Boko Haram terrorists, who came specifically for their members held in custody.

The attack threw residents of Kuje as well as residents of neighbouring communities into panic, especially as Kuje has been the epicenter of attacks by bandits lately. They feared most of the prison escapees might still be lurking around.

Residents of FCT had barely recovered from the bloody offensives on the Kuje facility when in the same month, a captain and six soldiers attached to the Presidential Guards Brigade of the Nigerian Army were killed in an ambush by suspected terrorists. The soldiers were reportedly ambushed after they visited the Nigerian Law School in Bwari, FCT, following a distress call from the authorities of the school. The school management had alerted that terrorists had dropped a letter indicating an imminent attack on the school.

Before the attempted attack on the Nigeria Law School, the terrorists had earlier kidnapped many locals from the Zuma community close to Veritas University, a Catholic University located in Bwari, and demanded N500,000 ransom from each of their victims.

Yet again, the attack on the Presidential Guards Brigade of the Nigerian Army was still fresh and still on the lips of everyone one, when the daredevils stormed an Army checkpoint around Zuma Rock, the border between FCT and Niger State, killing some soldiers and injuring others. According to reports, the terrorists arrived Zuma Rock on the axis of Madalla and Suleja along the Abuja-Kaduna highway, at about 8.30 p.m., and took the soldiers by surprise, opening fire from different angles. While retreating, the bandits who came on several motorbikes, reportedly attacked some villages and shops in Madalla and also carried foodstuff on their get-away motorbikes.

Persecondnews also recalls that standard security alerts from security agencies, recently warned that terrorists are planning to attack the FCT, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kogi and Lagos States among others.

The alert indicated that the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) had mobilized fighters and high calibre weapons, particularly, Rocket propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers, Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns and General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG), which they intend to deploy for the offensives in Katsina State.

In another development, two separate bandits groups are also plotting coordinated attacks on Zamfara, Kaduna, Kogi, Lagos and FCT.

Following the threats, the Federal Ministry of Education directed the closure of all Federal Government Colleges in the FCT.

 

FCT Residents fear-stricken, scared, lament increasing attacks

The residents have continued to live and move in perpetual fear of the unknown following the recent attacks on the nation’s capital. This has forced a lot of people closing from work early in order to get home on time, affected the nightlife of most satellite towns, and made commuters to be wary of the commercial vehicles they might board. Checks by Persecondnews also revealed that ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Bolt are having more patronages due to the insecurity situation as people are scared to board public buses and other commercial vehicles.

A visit by Persecondnews correspondent to Bwari showed that the suburb was a little bit deserted with the activities noticed only in the market area. Some residents of Bwari expressed grave fears of further attacks in the community after the attempted attack on law school and attack on the presidential guard’s Army brigade with some even planning to relocate to other parts of the FCT, but the question on the lips of everyone is where in the FCT is safe?

“We live constantly in fear in this area, because we don’t know when and where these people may attack next. I believe because this place is close to Kaduna, and as you are aware, most vehicles coming from Kaduna now use this Bwari road; very few use the Zuba road. We depend on only God for safety and protection,” a trader, Silas Jenkeli, who lives in Bwari, said.

Another resident, a widow and teacher in a private school in the suburb, Mrs Ruth Obinna, noted that the area is a little bit deserted because of the closure of schools, saying “as from 8.00p.m you hardly see people outside due to the security situation.’’

“There is tension everywhere. It even became worse after the attack on the law school and on the Nigerian Army. If they can attack the Nigeria Army, then attacking us will be a child’s play. I’m seriously looking for another job elsewhere, and I hope to get one because I really want to relocate with my children. We sleep and wake up in constant fear,” Obinna lamented.

Read Also: Terrorists strike in FCT, ambush Guards Brigade, FG shuts college

Persecondnews also spoke to some residents Kuje, who also complained about the security situation and that the  people are yet to get over the Kuje attack.

“Since the attack on the Kuje prison, we haven’t witnessed any attack by bandits or terrorists, but that hasn’t stopped us from being vigilant. The streets usually start getting empty anything from 8p.m unlike before where even till 11 p.m people are still outside drinking or having fun. Everyone is security conscious now,” a farmer, Daniel Shekwoyemilo, said.

A civil servant who resides in Kuje, Olalekan Dotun, said he no longer stays at work till closing time because he wants to get home early due to the present security situation in the country, and especially as Kuje is at the outskirts of Abuja.

Checks by Persecondnews also shows that the roads are usually clogged with vehicles between 4:30 p.m and 8.00 p.m as everyone is in a hurry to get home.

 

Seat of Government Under Siege?

Few days before the National Assembly was hurriedly shut down, the Senate leadership had held a closed-door meeting with Service Chiefs over the escalating insecurity across the country.

The meeting was to review the current security strategies and devise new solutions in the wake of widespread cases of violent attacks, kidnappings, wanton killings of citizens and security agents as well as destruction of properties by terrorists and bandits.

Speaking at the commencement of the meeting, Senate President Ahmad Lawan had described the level of insecurity in the country as frightening, as he noted that the security challenges had lingered for too long and that the Senate had hoped that the situation would have been better by now.

“There is nothing to show that the huge investments in security is yielding any result.

“The current situation is now frightening as there is now nowhere to go and nowhere to hide as the FCT, the seat of Government is now under siege.

“The security concerns has crippled the economy and key sectors, notably Agriculture, describing it as unfortunate,” Lawan said.

 

Calls for Resignation of President Buhari, National Security Adviser

Just before the shut down of the National Assembly, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Senators gave President Muhammadu Buhari a six-week deadline to curtail the deteriorating security situation or face impeachment.

The senators had staged a walkout from the Chambers in protest of the country’s precarious security situation after issuing the ultimatum. The senators chanted a solidarity song, ”All we are saying is Buhari must go”, “Lawan must Go”, and left the chamber after President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan stopped the Minority Leader, Sen. Philip Aduda, from moving a motion to impeach Buhari over his failure to take action.

According to Aduda, the impeachment was discussed during a two-hour closed-door parliamentary meeting but the Senate President did not give the issue a chance to be tabled at the plenary.

“We went into a closed-door session on the state of insecurity in Abuja and took cognizance that Nigeria is no longer safe. The Senate has recommended various measures and discovered that even Abuja is no longer safe.

“We agreed in the closed session that we will give President Muhammadu Buhari an ultimatum, but the Senate President Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan didn’t want us to raise the issue

“However, we have issued six weeks for President Buhari to resolve insecurity or be impeached. We walked out of Chambers in protest,” Aduda noted.

Also, another senator, Sani Musa (Niger East), demanded the sack or resignation of the National Security Adviser, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, for his apparent failure and incapacity to inform President Muhammadu Buhari of plans by terrorists to abduct him.

The terrorists had in a video clip threatened to kidnap Buhari and Kaduna Gov. Nasir El Rufai. The president was however not informed of the planned attack until El-Rufai told him.

“That single act is enough for the NSA to be kicked out. If it is true, going by the saying of Governor el-Rufai that the president was not aware, that singular act is enough for the NSA to be booted out.

“A country is bleeding and you will tell me that as the helmsmen continue to strategize and attacking our security agents and you are not aware of this and the president cannot be informed. It is self-indicting.

“We have to call a spade a spade. If I were the national security adviser in this country I would have tender my resignation because I have failed. When they are creating cells, you don’t wait until when you are attacked then you will act.

“These intelligence are shared at a stage where the culprits have not concluded their motives and plans and you will neutralise them,” the senator said in an interview on Channels TV.

According to him, without access to NSA intelligence reports, President Buhari will find it challenging to take action on security-related matters.

“So for me, I believe that we need to re-strategize and look at our demographics. If you go to Niger state today, you will see a lot of IDPs, people have left their villages.”

 

Security Measures Put in Place in FCT?

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), last week announced that it has re-invigorated the ‘G7” security operations to secure the territory.

FCTA explained that the ‘G7’ security operations involve collaboration and partnerships with states that are contiguous to the territory.

The FCT Police Commissioner Sunday Babaji, who made this known during the FCT monthly security committee meeting, explained that the operation would involve taking the fight to the bandits and terrorists in their camps which are mostly located in states bordering the FCT.

The police chief, however, called for the collaboration and cooperation of residents of the FCT to provide actionable and timely intelligence to the security agencies just as he advised them to be security-conscious at all times and assured residents of their safety while going about their lawful activities.

“I call on residents to give actionable and timely intelligence to all the security agencies and to also be security conscious.

“I’m also assuring them that FCT is safe. Every member of the community should go about their lawful businesses. We are on top of the situation.

“We have deployed our men both overt and covert and we are doing everything possible in synergy with all the security agencies and support of our traditional rulers and religious leaders to make sure that FCT is safe,” he said.

To actualize their plans, the Police Command has already commenced raids on untended bushes and abandoned structures within the city centre and suburbs as part of its intelligence-led gathering measures.

They felled trees and shanties at a forest in Pasali on Kuje-Gwagwalada road suspected to be hideout for bandits and other criminal elements.

Speaking after the exercise, the Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to the FCT Minister, Mr Ikharo Attah, said the clearing of Pasali forest near Kuje Local Education Authority Secretariat was to rid the area of shanties, bushes and restore the approved master plan.

Also, the FCT minister, Mohammed Bello, recently disclosed that the federal government approved the sum of N2.68bn to procure utility vehicles and security gadgets to fight insecurity in the FCT.

“Today, I presented a memo for the procurement of utility vehicles, security gadgets and accessories to support the security agencies operating within the Federal Capital Territory.

“These items are 60 utility vehicles, including communication equipment to be installed in the vehicles, to be supplied at the cost of N1,835,108,613,.95 with a delivery period of two months.

“In addition to that, the council also approved the supply of various security gadgets and accessories to support security agencies in the FCT at a total sum of N847,139,764.57,” Bello explained.

There question is will the measures being put in place by the police, other security agencies and the FCT authorities restore normalcy to the beleaguered beautiful city of Abuja? Time will tell.

Read Also: Insecurity: Senate leadership in closed-door meeting with Service Chiefs

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