Amid the fanfare that rang in the new year, 2024 started on a bad note for some residents in different parts of the capital city. News of families abducted from their homes spread like wildfire, heightening fear in the city.
One such instance was the recent abduction of the director of the Federal Housing Authority in Abuja from his residence, located only a few metres away from a military base in the Bwari area council.
Gripped with fear, Esther Ojoene, a resident of Anguwan Gwari, remains wary of relating to people. She finally opened up to Prime Progress after being cajoled.
“I won’t lie; since the trend of kidnapping started, I have been scared of every move I make. These days, you can’t identify good people from bad ones. So when you least expect it, even the closest neighbour might harm you. We all have to be careful,” she said.
Beyond the recent spate of kidnappings in the FCT, Ojoene’s apprehension dates back to 2014, when her close relative was kidnapped in south-eastern Imo. The recent surge in kidnapping only reminded her of the ransom her family had paid for her release.
“I might be scared of being taken away by these criminals, but the truth here is that Nigeria has had them for far too long for citizens to be surprised. One would even think there is something more mischievous than meets the eye,” she exclaimed.
The surge in kidnapping within the capital has had knock-on effects on church activities, as Ojoene explained.
“My husband is a pastor, and we have a church here in Anguwan Gwari. When our church members learnt about the kidnap, they stopped coming to church, especially for activities that would run through the night considering the location. They are gradually returning, but I am sure some of them will change their place of worship,” she told Prime Progress.
This spate of kidnapping, including a rape case from 2 years ago, has discouraged Ojoene from sending her 9-year-old daughter on errands.
“Our community used to be a lot more quiet in previous years. I have been here for over 20 years, and I must say that the past 5 years have been more unsafe and insecure for us,” she noted.
Years after the rape case, the culprits have yet to be apprehended, prompting Ojoene to run errands by herself.
“The girl in question lives with the trauma of the incident and barely talks to people around her. You will always see touts roaming around; they snatch people’s purses, steal from people’s houses, and still move freely. Nobody is saying anything,” Ojoene lamented.
Mrs. Mohammed, another resident, is even more alarmed by the situation in her community, expressing her frustration about the challenges she has been facing.
“The bad roads in our community are one of the incentives the touts in this community get to steal or attack people. Vehicles have to go at a minimum speed to pass through, and that’s the edge the criminals get,” she said.
Mrs. Mohammed told Prime Progress that the reckless driving of some motorcyclists caused her to sustain injuries on the same road in the community. She also said that the once happy community has turned into a place of fear, especially because of the kidnapping trend.
“I have been a housewife for 5 years now, and just before the kidnapping started, my husband and I planned to get a new home in areas like Bwari, Kubwa, or Dutse. But that is not possible anymore because these areas have recorded more cases of abduction than other areas,” she said.
The 35-year-old woman has considered leaving her community to start a business elsewhere, just as her husband promised. But Mrs Mohammed feels stuck, as she can’t leave nor start a business with the rising cases of abductions.