Investigation: Shocking Details As Kidnappers, Robbers Unleash Terror In Suleja Near Nigeria’s Capital
The rising spate of kidnappings for ransom, killing of commercial motor cyclist with a view to snatching their bikes is increasingly becoming a source of worry for most residents of Suleja town, a distance of about an hour drive from the nation’s capital Abuja , Newsdiaryoline investigations has shown.Suleja is viewed as the commercial nerve centre of Niger State in the north-central part of Nigeria.
Kidnap for ransom
The satellite town where a sizeable number of workers in the city of Abuja reside to escape exorbitant costs of accommodation and other essentials of life has witnessed at several kidnap for ransom cases in the second quarter of 2019, sources confirmed to this reporter. Eye witnesses gave graphic accounts of five of such incidents in the course of this investigation.
Newsdiaryonline can authoritatively report that the most recent among such cases was the kidnap of an independent petroleum marketer whose filling station is located along Suleja/Madalla road. Sources close to the victim’s family say ‘‘a ransom of N5,000,000 was paid to secure his release after several pleas to the gang of kidnappers who initially demanded N30,000,000.’’
The victim according to findings, escaped the first attempt by kidnappers to snatch him but was not second time lucky when the suspected criminals recently stormed his residence at about 7:00 pm with heavy guns and took him away before the full glare of his family members.
Besides, a middle aged woman was kidnapped near Low Cost Housing in Kwamba, but was later found in a community in far away Zamfara State. The circumstances surrounding her freedom were not clear as at the time of filing this report. A close source quoted the victim as saying that ‘‘she was not sexually abused by her captors, but she looked traumatized and needed medical attention.’’
Earlier a man was kidnapped right inside the President Shehu Shagari era housing units which were later sold to individuals.
Newsdiaryonline also gathered that while this man’s ordeal lasted the suspected kidnappers were communicating with the victim’s family members in a manner that suggested that they knew the area very well and were getting bit by bit updates on reactions about their captive, thus sending shock waves into the spines of people in the area.
Another account about the incident has it that ‘‘he wasn’t their actual target, but the kidnappers met him on their way back after a failed attempt to abduct a motorist. So, they decided to take him away,’’ a man who does not want his name mentioned in this report stated.
Armed robbers on the prowl
Apart from kidnapping for ransom, there are also disturbing reports of armed robbery attacks in the largely middle class settlement which is experiencing remodeling of the old housing estate of one bedroom flats to bigger apartments as well as the building of new residential houses inside and on the fringes of the estate.
When Newsdiaryonline visited the area the presence of local vigilantes was noticed amongst other security arrangements to ensure security of lives and property in the area.
A few metres outside the estate is a portion of the major road leading to the state capital, Minna. From this point to Maje junction ‘‘no fewer than two commercial motorcyclists have been killed by armed men and their bikes carted away’’ according to a cross section of the operators interviewed.
‘‘Such killings are also common along Chaza road’’ Abu Saidu, one of the respondents told Newsdiaryonline in Hausa language.
According to Saidu, ‘‘the road has a notoriety amongst Okada Riders as a death zone for them judging from the number of cyclists who have been killed by suspected bike snatchers and ritualists using human body parts for different kinds of magical powers.’’
Another respondent who identified himself as Zaka Friday, said that ‘‘the spate of attacks has made the road a no go area for some Okada Riders .’’
Zaka expressed the hope that the current rehabilitation of Suleja-Chaza-Bamburu to Rafinsanyin road (contract no.6467) by the Federal Government will increase traffic on the road and by extension improve security ‘‘especially at night when criminals like to use the cover of darkness and scanty presence of road users to perpetrate heinous crimes along the road.’’
Checks by Newsdiaryonline also revealed rising spate of criminal attacks along Gwazunu road which leads to the Kaduna/Abuja expressway.
When contacted for a reaction, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in Niger State, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Mohammed Baba Inna, responded through a text message thus: ‘‘Good morning, I will get back to you before the end of today (Monday July 22, 2019).” But as at the time of publishing this report, Newsdiaryonline did not hear from him anymore.
While the police and other security agencies are doing their best to ensure adequate security in the north-central town which prides itself as the gateway to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, residents occasionally resort to jungle justice.
Newsdiaryonline recalls that in February this year a suspected bike snatcher was burnt to death in Angwar Gwari along Zariawa road. Residents say the deceased who was identified as an indigene of Tofa, in Kano State, north-west Nigeria through a National Identity Card found on him came to the area with his cohort from Tafa, a town located about 30 minutes drive from where the incident took place pretended as genuine passengers and slashed the neck of the cyclist from behind.
The cyclist fell off his bike to the ground while the duo made away with the motorcycle but they ran out of luck as onlooker raised the alarm that attracted others who raced to the scene, sensing danger the suspected thieves abandoned the bike and took to their heels but the deceased was not lucky like his cohort who escaped unhurt.
Sometime last year Newsdiaryonline gathered that a bike snatcher was also burnt to death along Kaduna Abuja expressway near Suleja junction.
Similarly, one out of three young men who snatched a bike from an Okada Rider along Amana street junction in Kwamba area was chased by fellow cyclists who caught up with him in Pangamu area of Suleja and clubbed to death.
Recently, a group of armed robbers stormed shops in an area of the town better known as old Minna Garage by residents in the wee hour of the night and killed a vigilante.
A relative of the deceased who lives in Dabara area quoted three other colleagues of his late brother as saying that the rampaging robbers ‘‘ordered them to lie face down, but unfortunately the dead man mistakenly put on the flash light he was holding prompting the attackers to suspect that he wanted to identify them. At this point they decided to shot the three other vigilantes on their legs.’’
At about 8:00pm on Monday July 29 at old Minna Garage area Newsdiaryonline witnessed the arrest of a suspected supplier of hard drugs to kidnappers and other criminal elements. As at the time of filling this report it could not be confirmed whether he is still being held by the vigilantes or handed over to the police for proper investigation and prosecution.
Why Jungle justice?
Commenting on what could be responsible for the attraction for jungle justice, a legal practitioner who has been in Suleja Since 1985, Barrister Celestine Chukwu, said that the slow pace of prosecution and justice dispensation in the country is a contributory factor to why ‘‘the people are resorting to self help.’’
Chukwu, once a captive in the hands of kidnappers who seized him along Okene-Lokoja road in Kogi State, told Newsdiaryonline in an interview that ‘‘certain things could be responsible. One, failure of the system. By this I mean the security justice system, there is no trust that the police will do their work and do it well. Secondly, there is no trust that the judiciary will their work and do it well.
‘‘A situation whereby a suspect is apprehended and it takes two to three weeks before arraignment in court, contrary to the 48 hour stipulated by the law and years before a conviction does not help the system,’’ he said.
He pointed out that if people are arrested and taken to court as prescribed by the law as well as quick dispensation of justice, people will have confidence in the system and shun jungle justice.
‘‘As a lawyer I have never done a serious matter that lasted less than two years, in all my practice; so, is that justice?’’
According to him as the population of the town is growing rapidly, there is the tendency for ‘‘all shades of people to come into the town including kidnappers and armed robbers. Today, I believe the population of Suleja is about 10 times what it used to be.’’
The legal practitioner however, said that the police are doing their best to contain crime but need adequate provision of gadgets and other working tools like their peers in the developed world to effectively secure Nigeria.
Newsdiaryonline recalls that Suleja witnessed attacks by Boko Haram terrorists at the peak of the insurgency which hit Abuja, the nation’s capital and its suburbs. Though Boko Haram attacks are viewed as things of the past now, the recent cases of kidnapping and armed robbery remind residents of the changing nature of insecurity in the cosmopolitan town.