• Heavy traffic as soldiers mount roadblocks, conduct stop and search
• Abductors of two UNIABUJA professors, family members demand N300m ransom
• NUT condemns kidnap of Abuja school vice principal
• Military operation kills scores of bandits in Kaduna
With two attacks in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in the spate of 24 hours, there is tension following security reports of a planned strike by bandits and terrorists in the nation’s capital.
Security reports obtained by the military on Tuesday night indicated that attackers were planning to enter the FCT through the Abuja-Keffi Expressway and other entry points.
Acting on the intelligence, troops were placed on red alert and deployed to strategic locations, where they have mounted security checkpoints, to prevent and arrest any potential attacker. The soldiers mounted roadblocks at all major entry and exit points into the FCT, conducting stop-and-search operations on suspected vehicles and passengers.
Motorists, especially those, who live along the Abuja-Keffi expressway in areas like Kugbo, Karu, Jikwoyi, Orozo, Karshi, Nyanya, Mararaba, One-man village, Masaka, among other satellite towns, were finding it difficult to navigate the routes as a result of checkpoints mounted by soldiers of the Guards Brigade, who are responsible for the security of the President, his immediate family, VIPs, as well as the FCT and its environs. Military source, who pleaded for anonymity, said similar checkpoints have been mounted around Abaji, Zuba and Bwari areas to arrest suspects before they gain access into the capital city.
The source noted that while authorities are aware of the effect of the checkpoints on residents, motorists and other road users, the security of Abuja and residents was crucial. He, therefore, asked that members of the public bear with the temporary inconvenience.
Thousands of civil servants and artisans, who left their homes as early as 5:00 a.m., were stranded inside their vehicles till midday yesterday. The chaotic situation forced many people to abandon their vehicles and trek long kilometres to meet up with appointments.
Most of the commercial drivers lamented the sudden return of the military on the road and pleaded with government authorities to look into their plights. Expectedly, motorcyclists made brisk business charging as much as N1,000 to convey a passenger to Kugbo.
DESPITE the strict security measures mounted in the capital, unknown gunmen attacked a lecturer of the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) on Wednesday morning, a day after some staff of the university were abducted.
The lecturer, identified as Dr David Okoroafor, was attacked in his office, at the university’s permanent site around 11:00 a.m. The victim, who escaped his attackers, disclosed the development in a message he sent to officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The message read: “Dear ASUU members and UNIABUJA community, I wish to formally bring to your notice that today, Wednesday, I was attacked in my office located at Room 6, 1st floor, Faculty of Social Science building, a permanent site.
“At exactly 10:00 a.m. when I arrived the building, opened my office and began to pray in my usual way, suddenly two men brandishing weapons bunched into the office and ordered me to lay down flat on my face or they blow me up. I pounced on them and the gun. But the duo started to hit me hard. I began to shout on the top of my voice for help.
“When my voice went higher, they ran out and students pursued after them. But when they brandished their gun, the students became afraid and ran back, giving them room to escape into the bush. But during the scuffle in my office, their car key fell off which I picked and handed over to the university security unit.”
MEANWHILE, abductors of the six individuals that were kidnapped from the university on Tuesday have reached out to their families. The gunmen had whisked away two professors, non-academic staff and three others.
Sources familiar with the matter confirmed the development of newsmen in Abuja yesterday. “They demanded N50 million naira for each person, they have contacted the family but that is all we know for now,” one source said.
Confirming the development, a source in the university, said: “They got in touch with the family, the parents of the abducted children were contacted. We learnt they are asking for N300 million for all of them.”
It was gathered that the gunmen contacted the mother of one of the kidnapped boys and asked for N50 million each for the abductees.
Continuing, the source said: “The kidnappers contacted the woman whose son is with them. They allowed her to speak with the boy, then they told her what their demands are. The kidnappers asked for N50 million each for the six persons kidnapped.”
Asked if the university is involved in the negotiations, he said: “The university is not involved. They contacted the woman whose child they abducted and they permitted her to speak to her son. They refused to speak with individual family members. It is not advisable for the university to get involved directly. That is the truth.
“If the families are negotiating, they may even get a better deal so to speak. If it is the university that is negotiating with them you know that they will not budge. It is better for the families to negotiate, when they come down then the university can do whatever it dims fit to do. I think that is the strategy.”
The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, in 2020, had complained about the presence of bandits in the university community. The VC, in a statement by the Head, Information and University Relations, Dr. Habib Yakoob, said staff and students were “living in fear of bandits.
“The truth is that this great university is in trouble right now. I say this because we have all sorts of people who are living on the campus, who are using the land without respect for the environment. It is worse now because bandits are coming in and taking over land both within staff residences and outside. Our students are being attacked; we are living in fear of bandits. Some of the indigenes give land to these bandits without really knowing them.”
Spokesperson for the FCT Police Command, DSP Josephine Adeh, couldn’t be reached for comment at press time.
NEWS also filtered in yesterday that gunmen on Saturday invaded the staff quarters of Junior Secondary School, Yebu in the Kwali Area Council of Abuja and abducted the Vice Principal, Mohammed Nuhu. It was gathered that the security personnel at the gate was tied down to facilitate the operations.
The incident is coming two days after Abubakar Abdullahi Gbedako, the Vice Principal of Junior Secondary School, Kwaita, also in Kwali, who doubles as the Chief Imam of Yabgoji Central Mosque, was abducted. Gbedako and his two sons were taken away. They still remain in captivity.
Chairman of the FCT chapter of the Nigeria Union Teachers (NUT), Comrade Stephen Knabayi, confirmed the abduction yesterday. He said the kidnappers were yet to reach out for any demands. He added that the union had written several letters to the FCT Administration and some chairmen of area councils over the incessant abduction of its members by gunmen.
Knabayi said: “We have that report of the kidnap incident in our office. As I speak to you, he is still with the abductors. Our efforts at reaching the kidnappers up till now have not worked.
“We are so sad about the whole thing that despite our reports, our suggestions to the government, things like these are still happening. It is so sad. We are not happy.”
One of the teachers who witnessed the incident said that the kidnappers came in their numbers with sophisticated weapons and invaded the staff quarters of the school. “They gained access after scaling the school fence shooting sporadically, tied the security man on duty and headed straight to the house of the vice-principal where they forced the door open and took him away.”
Also condemning the kidnap incidents, the National Secretary-General of the NUT, Dr Mike Ene, has called on the government to facilitate Nuhu’s release.
Ene said: “We condemn this attack and it is so sad to hear that our teachers are no longer safe. We call on the government to please rescue Mr Muhammed Nuhu and others still in captivity.”
IN another development, scores of bandits have been reported killed by a military airstrike in Kaduna State. The Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, in a statement, yesterday, on security update in the state, said that another successful outing has been reported by security forces, as an unspecified number of bandits were neutralised during an aerial assault on identified bandit enclaves around the boundary area with a neighbouring state in Chikun local council.
He explained that “according to the operational feedback from the military, the strikes were conducted over-identified locations in Kauwuri and Gaude villages.”
Aruwan said: “The locations were identified as bandit hideouts after thorough checks and analysis of various intelligence reports.
“In the first mission, fighter jets attacked the bandit camps in Kauwuri general area, and armed bandits were observed fleeing from the locations. A helicopter gunship then followed for a close mop-up with rockets and cannons.”
He continued: “In a second wave over Gaude, the air platforms attacked the identified bandit hideouts in the area. Bandits were similarly observed attempting to take cover under some trees. The location was then attacked accordingly.
“Ground forces trailed and engaged the dozens of bandits who fled the location following the strikes.
The assessment revealed that many bandits were neutralized during the entire mission, and several camps were destroyed.”
“Governor Nasir el-Rufai welcomed the operational feedback with satisfaction and commended the security forces heartily for the well-executed missions. The governor expressed his optimism that more of such would follow. He urged the forces to sustain the tempo towards the obliteration of such criminals across the state.
“The government is appealing to citizens who might come across suspicious persons seeking medical attention in the general area to report to the Kaduna State Security Operations Room.”