The Special Assistant on Security Matters to ex-Minister of FCT, Bala Mohammed, Hon Henry Nwazuruahu Shield, has proposed that individuals who publicly opposed the appointment of Nyesom Wike as FCT Minister should be investigated.
In an exclusive interview with Naija News, Shield expressed deep concerns about the alarming increase in kidnappings within Abuja.
Shield identified economic hardships, false security perceptions, and political undertones as major contributors to the escalating crisis.
He emphasized the need for a proactive approach, urging the government to dispel the false sense of security and implement robust security measures.
Hon. Shield acknowledged the efforts of the recently formed Joint Task Force under Minister Nyesom Wike but stressed the need for a more extensive security blanket over the city.
He proposed a civilian intelligence gathering system in every neighbourhood, involving ordinary citizens in the fight against crime.
Drawing on his experience, he highlighted the importance of constant collaboration between political leaders and security agencies.
Hon. Shield called for the creation of community vigilante services, urging residents to actively participate in securing their neighbourhoods.
Question: What do you think are the main factors contributing to the recent increase in kidnapping and insecurity in Abuja?
Answer: “Thank you for the question. For me, a lot of factors are contributing to the recent increase in kidnapping and insecurity in the city. First and foremost is the economic factor. The economic situation in the country is such that it is pushing a whole lot of people into doing what they ordinarily might not have done.
“Now, is this a justification for the crimes that are being committed? Absolutely not. But I’m trying to highlight the factors as I see them, okay? That’s number one. Number two is that we have this sense of security in the FCT, which is no longer there. We have this false sense of security to say, oh, Abuja is secure, Abuja is secure.
“The truth of the matter is that the administration needs to place a security blanket over the city.
“It is in Abuja you hear on a daily basis of the cases of one-chance robbery, of the cases kidnapping, of cases of pickpocketing. This, you might say, oh, because it hasn’t gotten to me. I can mention a few areas where residents stay awake every night.
“You have Kabusa, you have Kubwa, you have some areas along the Lube axis. This false sense of security is what we have lived on for a while now. Believing that, oh, it’s the Federal Capital Territory. It’s a lie. Imagine invading an estate. Number one is that, as of today, every estate in Abuja should have a conventional and unconventional security system in place, okay?
“Be able to have a system that deters. It is not enough to say, oh, you want to arrest criminals. Make sure that they do not even gain access into your place of abode.
“Lack of familiarity with these individuals plays a significant role. Factors such as hunger, poverty, and unemployment are major contributors to the ongoing situation.
“And then, some of these present crimes are or maybe, political. They might be political because immediately the Minister of the FCT was appointed. The statement came out, eh, ‘he is not from this place, eh, we don’t want that kind of person, somebody from this part of the country to be a minister.’
“I believe everyone who made a public statement against the appointment of a Southerner as FCT Minister should be investigated to clear their names.
“This is the federal capital territory. Any Nigerian can be picked to be Minister. So those statements are suspicious, those statements are laden with hidden, could be laden with hidden plans and what have you. So, these are the factors that I see that are contributing to the present, insecurity that the FCT is witnessing.“
Question: Three months ago, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Security Council, under the leadership of Minister Nyesom Wike, declared the formation of a Joint Task Force aimed at addressing security challenges in the Capital Territory.
How would you evaluate the efforts made by the government and security agencies in addressing the growing challenges of kidnapping in Abuja?
Answer: “I would like to say something or make a point rather, you see, the issue of security, myself having been an S. A. security to an F. C. T. minister. When you stay a day without any crime, a week, a month, You know, you will not realize how much sacrifice, how much planning has gone into ensuring you have that one day, one week, one month, one year or something of peace, you know.
“So, as for the joint task force that the Minister constituted, I think we should give them their flowers. They tried, but what we need now, what the FCT needs today, is to ‘place a total blanket over the city, a total security blanket over the city. ‘There is a system that is known; there is a system of intelligence gathering by civilians.
“It is something the Minister and the administration need to look into. Every neighbourhood in the city, especially in Amak, Bwari, what do you call it? Uh, you know, just this local government.
“We need to have these area councils, what do you call a civilian intelligence gathering, layers. That’s what we used to call them during our own time. They will be able to, their job is just, see, they’re normal people. It’s not like they’re police or anything, although it’s always good if you have retired policemen, retired military, you know, people that have been in service.
“But it is something that a woman selling acara can work for you; a man pushing barrels can be in the system; someone who is riding a bike or driving a taxi can be inculcated into the system. It makes it hard for criminals, even when they commit crimes, to be able to get away swiftly and freely.
“It’s expensive to maintain, but again, it is what the FCT needs right now because of the issue of invading an estate, kidnapping a whole family and being able to successfully escape with them; I would say it is the failure of intelligence and a failure of security.
“So, this is one thing I would expect the Joint Task Force to look at, in fact, the administration directly to look at. Ability to constitute the layers program. Where every community, you are in Loko Goma, you are in Apo, you are in Gudu; you are in Wuse, you are in Asokoro, you know, you have people that are giving you on the spot report, real-time report of what is going on.
“So when there is a crime anywhere, the control room is immediately notified; you know, they know which area it is and dispatch security personnel there.
“Because we don’t have enough manpower when it comes to security to be able to give on reputation, but when you are able to bring in citizens, normal everyday citizens, nobody will suspect that some of them might be people that are passengers in a taxi and then they notice all these one chance people, there’re phone numbers messages can be sent to, and the control room immediately is notified, and the government shrinks, security agencies shrink into action.
“So the Minister should be able to look at that. I will not say that the Joint Task force has not done well because, believe me, for every single day that goes by without robbery or kidnapping, a lot of planning must have gone into making sure that. But once there is one insecurity, you know, it deflates on the achievements that have been met.
“So now we are focusing on this kidnapping that is currently going on. I expect that every major junction in the city will have a patrol vehicle. And then within the city, we can have motorbikes like power bikes and police, security power bikes that drive around our neighbourhoods, you know, you’re driving from Wuse one to zone two, zone three, you know, you just have, there needs to be an intimidating police presence in and around these areas that are now becoming the off bed for, for kidnapping and the rest.
“Once that is done and the people can see, you know, they can see, they can see, uh, criminals will. Definitely pull back. And that is one thing we need to do immediately because honestly, the way it is going, people are saying they need to move out of this town, they need to relocate from this town, they are no longer safe and everything.
“But I believe the government has the capacity to nip this criminality in the bud.”
Question: In your experience as the Special Assistant on Security Matters, what strategies or initiatives were implemented to combat kidnapping and insecurity in Abuja?
Answers: “Well, strategies are not things that you want to put out in public, but rest assured that as the political leaders in charge of security, we were constantly on the neck of the security agencies.
“We also ensured that we collaborated with them and supported them with the resources that they needed.
“And also as a, a ticker layer of, getting more security, we ensured that in addition to their own ability to generate intelligence and what have you, we were also, giving them from our own situation that, okay, see this place, this just happened, this just happened here, this just happened there, this just happened there, you understand?
“There were 24-hour reports; in fact, when I was at security, I was briefing my boss every night. I was getting security every hour of the night. Since we left office in 2015, my sleep has been messed up. Because I’m awake every midnight, it just looks like, how do you want to change it?
“But what is important and critical is there needs to be political backing that tells the security agencies to go ahead and do what they need to do to secure this place. I think that is an area that is important for the administration to look into.“
Question: How can communities and residents play a role in enhancing security and preventing kidnappings in Abuja?
Answer: “By creating community vigilantes services. A system where every community has a formal security system. You understand? You can employ, you can look at security men around your area, and what have you. And then, you know, come together as a community.
“Come together as a neighbourhood. And say, okay, this is how we want to protect ourselves from so and so and so and so time. Some men are going to be out there watching some, you understand? And then, make sure that you collaborate with security agencies.
“But the truth of the matter is that communities in the FCT also need to be part of securing the city. Security agencies alone cannot do it.“
Question: Are there any specific challenges or limitations that hinder the efforts to curb kidnapping and insecurity in Abuja?
Answer: “Actually, there is none that I can see. This just started; it just became serious a few days or weeks ago. It’s been happening for a long time. I think what we need is to have more people involved in the security of the city. More resources are needed, as I pointed out earlier on.
“Every strategic juncture into and exit from the FCT and every sudden junction within the city should be properly manned by visible security presence.
“That would deter because if you want to go and rob and you are at the junction and then you see a police, uh, a police vehicle or you, you know, in the neighbourhood you see power bikes, police power bikes riding through, you know, it would let you have a rethink if you really want to go and commit that crime because you know the proximity of the security agencies to wherever you want to commit a crime is such that the, the, the possibility of you being lucky is slim.
“So what the injuries are, we do not have enough manpower, and we need to cover the FCT. All the area councils need to be properly manned. All the area councils, it’s not like you would have to drive 20 minutes before you see a security vehicle or you have to drive 30 minutes before you see a security presence.
“No. We need to be able, like I said earlier, to place a security blanket over the city. Let every street and neighbourhood in Abuja feel the presence of security agencies, you know, on patrols, stop and search, whatever needs to be done. These are the things that and they cannot just be done by mouth or by policy proclamations.
“They need to be done with financial backing and political backing. We need to support the security agencies with every resource that they need.”
Questions: Some people are calling for the declaration of a state of emergency in the FCT; what is your take on this?
Answer: “Well, state of emergency is it to flush out, to stop, to hinder or to deter, uh, these criminals? What exactly is this meant to achieve? And for how long are we looking at having security and declaring a state of emergency in the FCT? Well, if the state of emergency is to be declared to enter the bushes and flush out these criminals.
“Well, I’m good, but you don’t need to declare a state of emergency to actually do that. You don’t need to declare a state of emergency to flush out criminals from their hideouts. What you need is an effective intelligence system.
“Why are they not doing this banditry and kidnapping and everything like this In the US or even in Ghana?
“It’s about the efficiency of our intelligence system. Ability to detect a crime before it is committed.
“I’m not in support of a state of emergency, but I am in full support of this government and the security agencies, you know, going full swing into arresting these criminals.“
Question: In your opinion, what role should the media play in creating awareness and fostering a sense of security among the residents of Abuja?
Answer: “Well, the media has, and will always remain, a partner with the administration and the security agencies in fostering peace everywhere, anywhere and everywhere in the world. I think we need more because the administration needs to be frontal in engaging the media. Also, you know, when arrests are made and everything, we need to always put these things out.
“We also need to be able to inform residents. What are the phone numbers of the closest DPO to you? The closest police station to you? What are the areas? There are dark spots that need to be avoided. What are the, you know, don’t, don’t enter all these vehicles alone. Then, if you’re driving at night, always try to change routes to your house every day that you’re going home.
“Or don’t maintain just one route because it’s easy to predict your movement through that. Then, watch out for vehicles that might be trailing you. Individuals that do not belong to your community. And you know, new faces that are around your neighbourhood, just things like this.
“You should also be able to use the media to highlight the phone number, important phone numbers, and security outlines that citizens and residents can be able to call.
“But yes, 100 percent the media should and has a very great role to play in sensitizing the residents and also discouraging criminality.“
Question: Finally, what recommendations or actions would you propose to the government and relevant authorities to effectively address the current insecurity challenges in Abuja and the Nation as a whole?
Answer: “We need the government to address the economic issue that is currently bedevilling the country. People are hungry. Like, people are very, very hungry. People are going broke by the minute, by the second.
“So, we need to be able to create an environment where people are able to live dignified lives.
“That’s number one. Number two is we also need to retrain our security agencies if we need to employ them. I know that the police, I think, announced their recruitment recently. I think I saw it somewhere in the media. I hope that is still ongoing. We need to have adequate manpower to be able to address the current security situation that we have found ourselves in as a country.
“I think that is what I would say. For the security agencies, I would say, well done, but please, more needs to be done, as in, we need total overhauling of, of the way we police, the way that we, we, we provide security, we need, and then we need the collaboration of everyone, the retired security men, you know, all of them need to come on board.
“Let us, first of all, secure our city and our country. Then, you know, we cannot look at it, okay, because no serious investor will bring his business to a place where insecurity is rife. And that’s a loss to residents, that’s a loss to the city, it’s a loss to the country. We need to be able to do whatever is constitutionally possible to ensure that these Criminals do not overwhelm us.
“Get adequate manpower. Provide enough resources. Let’s do what we need to do as a country to ensure that we don’t become a laughing stock in the committee of nations.”
The post Abuja Kidnapping: Everyone Who Were Against Wike’s Appointment As FCT Minister Should Be Investigated- Henry Shield Urges FG appeared first on Naija News.