The peace that engulfed Abuja beginning from December 1991, when President Ibrahim Babangida relocated from Dodan Barracks, Lagos to Aso Villa, is gone. Terrorists of all shades are now enjoying a field day in the Federal Capital Territory. For the avoidance of doubt, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu lives in Abuja with members of his family. All the Service Chiefs also operate from the Federal Capital. Since the advent of 2024, insecurity has smeared the serenity of Abuja. Families have been thrown into mourning simply because bandits are waxing stronger and spreading fear from Kubwa to Like and penetrating Bwari and Asokoro.
It is difficult to explain to the Al-Kadriyar family of Ilorin that right within the Federal Capital Territory, seven of their members were abducted by gunmen. So far, two of them have been murdered by the bandits who so brazenly and heartlessly increased the ransom they are demanding from N60 million to N100 million. A day after Christmas in 2023, Mansoor Al-Kadriyar and six of his children were taken away from their home in Bwari. He was released by the abductors only because that was the only way to raise enough money to set his daughters free. Al-Kadriyar tried to beat the deadline set by his captors. His younger brother, Abdullfattar, got involved in the negotiations that involved the police. It went awry as he was gunned down with some of the security agents in the bid to free the girls. More bad news followed. Nabeeha Al-Kadriyar was killed when the deadline was not met. In a more gruesome style, the bandits deposited her body on the road and asked the family to come over for a briefing. They threatened that if the N100 million was not paid, more blood would flow. This is horrible, in a country that has a digitalised communications network. Immediate past Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami, who was involved in raising the ransom to free the remaining five children courtesy of his friends, is worried that security agencies have been unable to use technology to track down the criminals. Nabeeha was an undergraduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with two of her sisters, Nazeebah and Nadreesar, who are still in captivity. Her life was taken where there was supposed to be enough security.
Hundreds more have tasted life in the forests, bushes and mountains as captives, many unable to come out of the places they were hidden by their abductors in one piece. Mothers, children, village heads and titled men were not spared. If it is not Kawu today, it is the turn of Dutse. There seems to be no end in sight. President Bola Tinubu must do something urgently. He should go beyond the summoning of the nation’s Security Chiefs, which was also the norm under the previous administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, which hardly made any impact on reducing criminal activities in the country. Instead questions should be asked about the inability of security agencies to locate the bandits through available communications networks. They call various families for negotiations and move about freely. This sounds strange. It is a dangerous development. What it means is that Tinubu himself is not safe. In the same Abuja, Boko Haram broke into Kuje Correctional Centre in 2023, released bandits and terrorists and marched triumphantly back to the bush. Till date no one has been sanctioned nor any of the assailants caught. There was also an ambush that claimed the lives of an officer and men of the Brigade of Guards in Abuja. We have lost count of the number of Police men and women who have been killed by insurgents. Tinubu must do better than Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari. The first bomb explosion in Abuja, on October 1, 2010, was the handiwork of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) under Henry Okah. The Federal Capital Territory has not known peace since then. Neither Buhari nor his Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, did anything when Boko Haram took over the Kuje Correctional Centre to free some of their commanders. Probably, those troubling the entire space are some of the escapees.
FCT minister, Nyesom Wike, must find a way out of this ugly situation. He is the President’s landlord and cannot shy away from terrorists who seem to have surrounded Abuja, tormenting the peace loving inhabitants with trauma. If the government cannot secure Abuja, home of the Commander-in-Chief, there will be no hope left for ordinary citizens. Threat to Abuja is a threat to the existence of Nigeria as a nation. This must be handled properly before bandits are emboldened to make more daring raids – and eventually perhaps even kidnap a high profile government official.