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Abuja Highway: Armed bandits, kidnappers reign supreme on Abuja-Lokoja expressway

Abuja Highway: Armed bandits, kidnappers reign supreme on Abuja-Lokoja expressway March 18, 2020 | EASTERN PILOT  ADELANI ADEPEGBA...

Abuja Highway: Armed bandits, kidnappers reign supreme on Abuja-Lokoja expressway

March 18, 2020 | EASTERN PILOT 

ADELANI ADEPEGBA, in this piece, examines the nightmares Nigerians face plying a major road in Kogi State, linking the northern and southern parts of the country

Every motorist knows that travelling on the Abuja-Kaduna highway required an iron nerve and the heart of a lion. This is due to the virtual takeover of the road by kidnappers, bandits, armed robbers and other criminal elements. The blood-chilling activities of the hoodlums have continued to induce fear in Nigerians, including the high and mighty.

Despite appropriating the public security system for their personal protection, the elite are still afraid to travel on the Abuja-Kaduna road. Senior government officials, federal lawmakers and high ranking military and police officers daily commute to Kaduna by train to avoid falling prey to the criminals. Individuals who were unfortunate to fall into the hands of the highwaymen had a sorry story to tell. Tragically, many others did not live to share their gory experience.

But the criminals appeared to have lately shifted their operations to the Abuja-Lokoja highway where they now hunt down Nigerians like bush fowls. The Abaji/Kwali axis of the road had been identified as their favourite ambush point. Other blackspots include Kwaita-Chikara-Omoko-Idu-Ochonyi and Akpogu communities located along the Abuja-Lokoja highway. The kidnappers were also known to lay ambush for commuters at Chikara-Sharp bend, Aseni, Ahoko-Adabo and Orehi/Achabo axis.

Apart from the highway attacks, the daring gunmen had also carried out robbery and kidnap operations in various communities in Kuje, Kwali, Gwagwalada and AMAC Area Councils. Over 20 victims were abducted within a month across the four councils late last year. Hapless individuals were forced to cough up huge ransoms in exchange for their abducted family members. Though the Federal Capital Territory Police Command had apprehended a number of kidnap and robbery suspects who were paraded before the media, this has not curbed the blood-curdling crimes on that highway. The spate of killings and abductions still read like a Stephen King horror novel.

For instance, on February 2, suspected kidnappers opened fire on a Toyota Previa bus conveying eight passengers at Kwali. An eyewitness said the kidnappers jumped onto the highway and shot at the vehicle forcing the vehicle to a halt. The gunmen then proceeded to march their victims into the forest, but the quick response of a police team from the FCT command saved the day. They engaged the gunmen in a fierce firefight and successfully rescued some of the passengers.

The FCT police spokesman, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, said four suspected kidnappers were arrested during the incident which occurred at Piri village. The suspects are Shuaibu Sule, 27; Mohammadu Usman, 25; Umar Usman, 19, and Usman Ibrahim, 20, all of Kamadi village in Kwali. Exhibits recovered from them include one Dane gun, two cutlasses, one iron bar and one AK-47 ammunition shell.

Also, a similar scenario took place the same day when suspected armed robbers numbering about 10 attacked some passengers at Gada Biu, before Kwaita community along the Lokoja-Abuja highway. The driver of the bus, which belongs to Chisco Transport Company and who identified himself as Madu Francis, told newsmen that he was attacked by gunmen in military uniform around 5.47pm as he was driving towards Gada-Biu.


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