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Police moves to clampdown on scavengers in FCT

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THE Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command has moved to clampdown on scavengers, popularly known as ‘Baban Bola’, in Abuja.

A statement released by the Public Relations Officer of the Command Josephine Adeh said FCT Commissioner of Police Sunday Babaji has ordered the arrest of the scavengers.

The statement explained that the order followed complaints over the activities of criminals who masquerade as scavengers to steal and engage in other criminal acts.

“The CP noted that Intelligence at the disposal of the Command revealed that the activities of these miscreants now span beyond mere scavenging to the commission of other criminal ventures like stealing, carjacking, housebreaking, arms smuggling drug peddling, amongst other crimes.

“Consequent upon the above, the CP has directed Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and heads of Tactical formations in the Command to work with Stakeholders within their various Areas Of Responsibility (AOR) to checkmate the activities of these prevailing criminal enterprise, arrest on sight to bring these rogue scavengers to book,” the statement said.

The FCT police chief urged residents to remain vigilant and refrain from meting out jungle justice upon rogue scavengers.

‘Baban bola’ operatives are often found in the suburban parts of the city, moving about at different hours of the day, collecting trash for a fee.

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Some can also be spotted on the streets in high-brow areas, digging through trash cans searching for recyclables such as plastics, iron or aluminium.

Many residents of the FCT rely on these scavengers to dispose of waste due to an absence of garbage trucks in their areas.

Some scavengers take advantage of access to people’s homes to perpetrate crimes, resulting in the restriction of their activities to official dumpsites around the FCT in 2018.

However, The ICIR reported that despite this restriction, scavengers have continued to operate freely within the city and carry out criminal activities.

Residents, who were encouraged to report scavengers to the police, continue to patronise them regardless of the security risks involved for lack of an alternative means of waste disposal.

Janet Peni, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), the agency responsible for waste management among other duties in the FCT, told The ICIR in September that environmental workers would be contracted to suburbs by 2022.

At the time of filing this report, areas such as Jahi, Kado-Kuchi and other suburbs still have no garbage trucks.

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However, in an interview with The ICIR on Tuesday, Peni said plans had been concluded to provide the localities with rural buckets, and the only hitch in execution was funding.

“We are planning to place rural buckets in those areas. We have written for them and I think approval has been given, but there has been no cash backing yet. Nothing has been released yet for the year, but I am sure by the time they release our first quarter operational funds, we should be able to do that,” she said.

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Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via vopara@icirnigeria.org

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