There is no doubt that in every department of the nation’s life, things are not going on as it ought to be. Perhaps, the most worrisome is the issue of insecurity. Fear have for long, become part of the psyche of Nigerians, not just by the activities of Boko Haram, who have since devised several means to the conduct of their nefarious activities by wearing the garb of kidnappers, bandits, and armed herdsmen.
There is no doubt that the so-called unknown gunmen have joined their fray, spiralling the adrenaline level of most people residing in Nigeria, as these unknown gunmen have perhaps become the new debilitating tango in our lexicon. Unfortunately, each time these unknown gunmen, armed herdsmen, bandits or kidnappers strike, we hear our political leaders issuing statements condemning “such dastardly act” and no more. After a few days, we face the same debacle, while those charged with the constitutional responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the citizenry, simply issue another statement exonorating themselves, promising that they are on top of the game, asking citizens to go about their normal businesses, and life goes on.
It is disheartening that Nigerians are daily fed with nauseating stories about how those murderous people, who operate in a manner akin to Jack the Ripper, prawl unrestrainedly as if we are a nation without laws and security, where life had become short, nasty and brutish.
One of the most unreported acts of brigandage against Nigerians, especially people residing in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is the attrocities daily perpetrated by criminal elements known as “One Chance” robbers. These criminals use both painted and unpainted commercial taxis to carry out their nefarious activities. Their main target ate helpless Nigerian poor, who have no vehicle of their own, or people returning from a journey, but need to board a taxi to their destinations.
These One-Chance robbers often pretend to be operating commercial cab and unrestrainedly have dispossed several people of their valuable property, and have also inflicted serious bodily harm or even killed their victims. It is common knowledge that these One-Chance robbers mainly operate around the Federal Secretariat, Wuse Market, Area One, Berger and UTC axis in the Abuja metropolitan City; 2nd Kubwa gate by NYSC; Zuba junction; Giri Junction, Apo Roundabout; Life Camp Junction and AYA.
It is common Knowledge that the nation’s security apparatus, irrespective of what people said or read about, mounted functional Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras at these places which is currently being coordinated at the Force headquarters, beside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Although there was large scale fraud with previous CCTV contract for Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and some other cities in Nigeria, but The AUTHORITY can confirm that Abuja CCTV being monitored at the Force headquarters is functional. What we cannot guarantee is to what use the police and nation’s security put to the footages they harvest from those CCTV camera.
We say this because the issue of One-Chance robbery is not a new phenomenon in Abuja. It has been in existence for more than 15 years, yet their modus operandi have remained the same and successful. It is equally more worrisome that nursing mothers and young girls have joined this notorious One-Chance business. The AUTHORITY was approached recently by a Youth Corps member who told of how he boarded a so-called taxi at Wuse Market, with “three passengers” already seated in the vehicle, including one of them on the front seat of the vehicle, clutching her baby. The NYSC member told The AUTHORITY that she was shocked that the very woman with the baby was the one that pulled a pistol at him, instructing him to cooperate with them or lose his life.
What is more disturbing in the entire One-Chance saga is that not too long ago, precisely during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, staff members of thr Nigerian Info/WAzobia Fm, who spotted a One-Chance gang that had robbed one of their colleagues and chased them to a dead ally near the former NYSC headquarter complex at Garai, Area 3, Abuja, were almost killed by operatives of the disbanded Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS), who not only let the One-Chance criminals go without any much ado, but detained the journalists and their colleagues at their former Abbatoir office, raising fears that those criminals might be working on commission for those criminally-minded F-SARS operatives or that they had sympathy for them. Up till now, that matter died after the reports made in the media at that time. There has been no report of the arrest of those suspects or of any punishment meted out to those disbabded F-SARS operatives.
It should be pointed out that the chaotic transportation system in the FCT is not helping matters, but goes to add fertiliser to the level of criminality, especially One-Chance robberies in Abuja. The AUTHORITY had been wondering why inspite of our several editorials drawing attention to the dangers posed by the indiscriminate existence of illegal motor parks across the city center, the non-construction of standard motor parks and bus stops in the city’s center in particular, and the recourse by touts and commercial vehicle drivers to convert every road junction, bridge and roundabout in Abuja to loading bay, the FCT Administration never bothered to take a decisive action against such despicable but growing danger.
What the FCT put together previously as a Task Force against illegal motorparks and vehicle operation became an extortionist gang. They adopted gestapo methods, arresting motorists indiscriminately only to extort, while letting the ‘agberos’ and touts to operate unrestrainedly illegally. Also, the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) which set up a similar body, did not fare better as they only harass and intimidate private vehicle owners without checking the activities of touts and other criminal elements who turned road junctions to illegal motor parks.
While high profile criminality are clearly on the rise in the country, there are minor criminal activities which the ordinary folks feel the police and other security agencies should be able to deal with effectively. While we allowed bandits, kidnappers, armed herdsmen, unknown gunmen and those who attack and sack communities to operate, as if we are helpless, allowing the One-Chance syndrom to fester will completely destroy our country.
There is no way the nation’s security will exonerate themselves of blame and probably be dubbed as accomplices, if they shamelessly can’t halt this festering One-Chance robberies now destroying our cities. If the questions should be asked: Do the police employ unqualified personnel to man their CCTV Control Center or they lack the capacity to properly analyse footages obtained from those CCTV?
If the nation should be allowed to get ensconced by all manner of sundry criminality, then, anarchy will loom large. This should not be allowed to continue. People who have been assigned responsibility to provide security should be seen to seriously carry out their assignments. It is not enough to issue press statements condemning nefarious activities of criminals, or making a photo show of suspects arrested after they had successfully carried out a criminal act. Effective policing entails nipping criminality in the bud. It entails always staying ahead of the criminals in terms of their diversities and modus operandi. It must go with efficient physical and soft intelligence as well as competent technical know-how which appears to be lacking. That is the only way to guarantee the security and welfare of citizens which remains the primary constitutional duty of people in government.