Knocks on Wike as kidnappers run rings around Abuja

CRITICISMS are mounting on Nigeria’s Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Nyesom Wike, as kidnappers run rings around the capital city and demand millions of naira in ransom.

Residents say Mr Wike is the political head of all the security apparatuses in Abuja and should use the resources at his disposal to confront the daredevil kidnappers.

Kidnap cases are on the rise in Abuja, with the latest being the abduction of 8 women in Gwambe village, Kuje, Abuja, on Monday.

Daily Trust quoted a village chief as saying that four of the kidnapped women were from the same family.

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Just last week, the father of Vice Chairman of Kwali Area Council of the FCT, Mr Mohammed Yakubu, a pregnant woman and five others were kidnapped by criminals, with one person shot during the incident.

Late Austin Ilom

Kidnappers are demanding N30 million ransom, according to reports.

Similarly, a staff member of Zenith Bank at Suleja branch was kidnapped three weeks ago at Kubwa, Abuja. Mr Austin Ilom died after paying N11 million ransom, according to reports. There were conflicting reports about the incident, with some claiming that Zenith Bank was not part of the negotiation process since the incident did not happen while he was on duty.

Zanith Bank’s Team Lead for Media Relations, Mr Ayoola Kusimo, did not respond to Economy Post‘s enquiries as to what really happened to Mr Ilom.

“Kidnappers are wreaking havoc on Abuja, but the FCT minister appears to be more interested in Rivers State politics,” a resident of Kuje, Mr Hassan Asabe, told Economy Post.

“We run back home once it is 7pm, yet we have a minister, security agencies and the government that should tackle this menace in the seat of power. They should all sit up,” Mr Asabe said.

A resident of Gwagwalada, Ms Juan Obiorah, said it seemed as if there was no government in Abuja.

“I know two persons kidnapped in one month in Abuja. I think Mr Nyesom Wike needs to wake up and fight this insecurity in Abuja. His success or otherwise will depend on how he is able to reduce kidnapping in the FCT,” she said.

A resident of Kubwa, who preferred anonymity, blamed security agencies the more but cautioned Mr Wike to get his acts together.

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“For me, security agencies are failing here, which is the seat of power. On the other hand, their boss, Mr Wike, is also not doing much to curb this situation . They should all begin to tackle this urgently to save the capital city.”

In September 2023, Premium Times reported that a staff member of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Mr Surajudeen Olasinde, narrated how his wife, Mistura, and his two daughters – Hauwa and Fatima – were kidnapped around Galadima District of the FCT.

“Their abduction happened around 7pm on their way from Garki. Immediately they reached Kabusa Garden Estate at the spot where the road was terribly bad, the kidnappers came out from the nearby bush and attacked them,” the man said.

“They started shooting to scare people away before they marched them into the bush,” he added.

In the second week of September 2023, criminals also kidnapped Mr Barnabas Musa at Gumbo village in Kwali Area Council of the FCT. When they later released him, they held his son, Jacob, and demanded millions of naira in ransom.

In September 2023, Mr Wike alongside six council men in the FT disclosed that 19 persons were kidnapped in the Bwari Area Council of the city within that week.

Data show security weakening in FCT

Data show that insecurity is rising rapidly in the FCT. A June 2023 Nextier report said there had been 40 kidnap cases involving 236 victims in the FCT between January and June 2023.

Its April 2023 report had noted that there were 29 persons involved in one kidnap incident.

The report had claimed that “there is no week in Abuja without a record of kidnapping or related violence,” stressing that “Kwali Area Council and towns on the outskirts of Abuja were worst hit by the menace.”

Nextier cited a report saying that kidnapped victims in the capital city paid ₦653.7 million between 2021 and 2022.

Kidnapping rising nationwide

Kidnapping is also growing nationwide. According to SBM Intelligence, “between July 2022 and June 2023, 3,620 people were abducted in 582 kidnap-related incidents in Nigeria and at least N5 billion ($6,410,256 as of 30 June 2023) were reported as ransom demands, while verified ransom payouts amounted to N302 million ($387,179), or six percent of what was demanded.”

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Source: SBM Intelligence, Economy Post

Within the period, Zamfara reported highest kidnap incidents with 765 cases. It was followed by Kaduna and Niger, which had 690 and 468 cases respectively. Katsina and Sokoto states were next with 241 and 176 cases respectively, trailed by Kogi and Edo with 163 and 130 cases respectively. Other states not represented in the graph above had fewer than 10 cases of kidnapping within the period.

FCT Police Commissioner, Mr Haruna Garba, has, however, assured residents of the capital city that his men has made several arrests and are desirous of uprooting kidnappers from the capital city.

“I wish to reassure you that the FCT Police Command, under my leadership, will do all that is humanly possible to prevent crime and criminality, but when it does occur, to detect it. To all law-abiding residents of the FCT, I wish to solicit your support and cooperation in the spirit of community policing. Together, we shall defeat crime in the FCT,” Mr Garba said.

Which way Abuja?

There are suggestions as to how Abuja can defeat the rising cases of kidnapping in the city.

According to Nextier, “the Nigerian government should equip security organizations in responding better to kidnap cases. Also, security organizations should improve collaboration opportunities with local communities to gather reliable and actionable intelligence for their operations.”

A security expert, Mr Joshua, Ndalegwu, urged the Nigerian government to employ more security officers, noting that their size would not be able to match Nigeria’s rising population.

“We have about 370,000 police officers and 230,000 military officers. They do not grow as fast of the Nigerian population. For a population of over 210 million, this is not acceptable. We need to begin to recruit, equip and re-train officers in Nigeria to meet the 21st century challenges,” he said.

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According to SBM Intelligence, “efforts to combat kidnapping must be comprehensive, addressing the root causes and consequences alike. Strengthening law enforcement, improving socio-economic conditions, and fostering education are essential to eradicating the economic incentives for kidnappers.”

It suggested that international cooperation, intelligence-sharing, and stringent legal frameworks would help in curbing cross-border kidnapping networks, stressing the need for collaboration.

“Governments, organisations, and communities can work collaboratively to develop holistic solutions and effective strategies to prevent and combat this crime by understanding its economic costs.”

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