For first-time visitors, the sight of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras on major roads suggests that Abuja, the seat of power, is well under tight security surveillance. But a second and closer will reveal that the technology offers nothing more than physical presence — the cameras are not working.
But not functioning is not the only minus with the multi-billion naira CCTV; the fact that they have never worked since their installation on Day One is just the impetus desperate vandals needed to strip them of all the accessories.
From cameras to cables, batteries and solar panels, almost all the CCTV installations within and around Abuja have been vandalized. Though they are meant to capture crimes in the city, the cameras cannot even protect themselves! What remains of many of them now re just the carcasses.
The project, National Public Security Communication Project, was awarded to ZTE Communications, a Chinese firm, for $470m — an equivalent of N76b — in 2010, after Olusegun Aganga, then Minister of Finance Minister, led a delegation to Beijing, China, where the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed.
On the team were Adamu Waziri, the then Minister of Police Affairs, and Hafiz Ringim, the then Inspector General of Police.
ICIR reported on July 10, 2014 that the House of Representatives directed its committees on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Public Safety and National Security to find out why the CCTV installed in Lagos and Abuja failed to detect criminal activities, and to submit findings within two weeks.
The directive followed a motion by Saviour Udoh (Akwa-Ibom/PDP) in view of brazen acts of terrorism perpetrated within Abuja metropolis.
Details of the project are wrapped in secrecy despite the attempt of the National Assembly to intervene. However three years after the House’s directive, ICIR brings to you seven places in Abuja, out of several other places where the facilities are lying in ruins.
TAFA BALEWA ROAD
With just one out of the four solar panels remaining, the panels stand lies on the ground on the ever-busy road, which connects the Nigerian Army Headquarters and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), adjacent Radio House and International Conference Centre.
AHMADU BELLO WAY, AREA 11
Standing some metres away from the office of Director of Legal Studies, Nigerian Army, is a skeletal solar panel stand. It is just almost in front of a Diamond Bank branch. But it long fell to the preying hands of vandals — the solar panels and the control box beside it is empty as well.
NIPOST HEADQUARTERS JUNCTION
Here, the CCTV stand was long knocked down by an unknown motorist. The remnants lay on the road median for months but when the ICIR visited, only the control box — bearing all kinds of posters — and a vandalised solar panel were standing. The solar panels, CCTV and other accessories, including the mast, have disappeared.
The Petroleum Products and Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA) building is just behind the Abuja National Mosque and very close to the Millennium Towers project. Given the strategic and sensitive nature of these edifices, one would have thought it would be almost impossible to vandalize an installation such as CCTV Alas! There’s arguably none of the CCTVs there that has remained intact. They all have lost their vital parts despite heavy security around the axis.
LIFE CAMP ROUNDABOUT
Due to its busy nature and volume of traffic, day and night, there are seven CCTVs from the Jabi express road roundabout up to the headquarters of Directorate of Vehicle Inspection also known as VIO at Mabushi. Surprisingly, and disturbingly too, they all have lost their accessories to vandals. Government seems not bothered by this development.
OLUSEGUN OBASANJO ROAD
Those who are familiar with this road that stretches from Area 10 to Zone 7 know it already that the CCTV cameras and their poles on the road are eye-sores. They are all empty without gadgets.
SULTAN ABUBAKAR ROAD
On Sultan Abubakar Road, a CCTV stand there is not only damaged, it provides a shelter for a lunatic, too. A pillow suggestively placed on the solar panel board indicates a resting place for someone, perhaps at night. But the cameras and other installations have vanished.