FCT residents abandon homes as bandits overrun communities

SOME residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially those within the Bwari Area Council, are abandoning their homes to escape being kidnapped by bandits who seem to be taking over the city in a recent wave of abductions.

In 2019, an FCT resident, *Uzoma, was abducted by gunmen from his residence in the Lugbe Area of Abuja.

Read also: “We can’t sleep” FCT residents flee homes over bandit attacks, kidnappings

After his ordeal with his abductors, which included four days in captivity and a ransom payment to the tune of N4 million, she was released.

The ICIR reported that *Uzoma’s case was not an isolated one. As a result of frequent abductions, many residents of the area deserted their homes to avoid falling victim to kidnappers.

There have been several promises to address insecurity within the FCT by both past and present administrations. However, many years later, abductions have persisted, and more residents are leaving their homes to escape attacks by bandits.

In December 2023, the FCTA named three area councils, Kuje, Abaji, and Bwari, as places with the highest records of kidnapping in the FCT.

Several kidnap cases were recorded within these areas during the festive period, including the mass abduction of about 23 residents of Dei-dei, Bwari, and 12 others in Gbaupe, a rural community along Airport Road.

Speaking with The ICIR, a resident of Bwari, Somto Ekwerike, said those living within the developing areas of the area council were mostly targeted. She said they had vacated their homes out of fear.

“People are leaving the area, especially the rural areas or residential houses built in developing areas. You know that people in these developing areas mostly build their own houses, so they are seen as wealthy, making them targets.

“Most of them had to leave their homes for Bwari central. It is even beginning to affect the cost of rent here,” she told The ICIR.

Narrating his ordeal to The ICIR, a homeowner in the Barangoni area of Bwari, Ijaodola Wasiu, said he was forced to relocate with his family to other parts of the FCT. This move cost him nearly N1.4 million despite owning a four-bedroom flat.

He took the decision after separate abductions were successfully carried out for three consecutive days within his community and neighbouring areas.

“After the first, second, and third day, my family said they were not safe anymore. Everybody started moving. That is how my family left the house. Other families, too, are going. Many people have gone,” he said.

Wasiu also disclosed that the sudden relocation was taking its toll on his finances and children’s education. The urgency of the move did not afford him enough time to search for less expensive alternatives.

“My children are to return to nursery and primary school. Nowhere for them to go to school,” he said.

In his New Year message, Minister of the FCT Nyesom Wike said the FCT Administration (FCTA) remained committed to ensuring the safety of residents.

“I wish to reaffirm the administration’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the security and well-being of all residents. Security remains a top priority, and we will continue to support the efforts of the security agencies in keeping the FCT safe,” he noted in his message.

Despite the minister’s assurance, abductions have persisted in many parts of the FCT.

At least 42 FCT residents were kidnapped in 2024

Barely two weeks into 2024, the FCT seems to have witnessed a surge in kidnappings, particularly within the Bwari Area Council, where abductions have affected at least 42 people.

On January 2, a father and his six daughters were abducted in the Zuma 1 Area of Bwari. The abductors also proceeded to shoot at two Police officials and a family member who had made attempts to rescue the family.

The family member died from the shooting, while the two security operatives sustained gunshot injuries.

The kidnappers demanded N60 million as ransom, and the father was released to source for the sums.

After about 12 days in captivity, one of the sisters was killed, leading to outrage by the public and efforts to raise funds to pay for the remaining girls’ release have not fully materialised as of the time of filing this report.

On January 7, three days after the girls were kidnapped, ten residents of Sangwari Estate, Dutse, in Bwari, were also abducted.

The most recent case of kidnap in Bwari occurred on January 10 in Kawu. This community shares boundaries with Niger and Kaduna states. About 23 residents were whisked away by abductors from the community.



    The abductors had arrived through the Kuyeri forest in Kaduna, according to the councillor representing the area, Abdulmumini Zakari.

    The kidnappers also invaded the residence of the village head, Gambo Pawa, and abducted him along with his two wives and some children.

    With terrorists inching further into Nigeria’s capital, there is heightened anxiety and tension among FCT residents, who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation.

    *The name with asterisk changed to protect source’s identity.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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