· Fake N1,000 note hawkers, other criminals invade FCT
·‘One Chance’, human head hunters also on the prowl
As Christmas draws nearer, the crime rate has risen sharply in the Abuja metropolis and satellite towns in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Indeed, the suburbs and highways leading in or out of the nation’s capital have been taken over by criminals and various categories of law breakers.
The criminals, who operate in various shapes and guises, include the following: hawkers of fake Naira notes, armed robbers using commercial and private cars and ritualists.
A three-week investigation by The AUTHORITY in different parts of the FCT revealed that criminals from other parts of the country may have invaded the nation’s capital to join those on ground to perpetrate their criminal activities as the Yuletide season approaches.
It was also discovered that most of the criminals operate at strategic locations in places like AYA, Berger Bus stop, Area 1, Wuse Zone 6, near the market, Nyanya/Mararaba axis, Lugbe, Kubwa, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Zuba, among others.
Similarly, the two major highways leading into or out of the Abuja city, the Airport Road and the Kubwa Expressway, are notorious for “one chance” operators and ritual head hunters.
Added to these are hawkers of fake N1,000 note.
This group of criminals are fluid as they do not restrict their activities to a particular place.
They move around the FCT seeking out their victims.
Victims, who narrated their ordeals, said that the “one chance” criminals operate in painted or unpainted cabs.
According to them, the criminals usually move with two or three occupants in their cabs on major streets and along the two out-bound roads looking for unsuspecting residents to pick up and subsequently rob them along their route.
The human head hunters, also known as “ritualists”, according to findings, operate mostly in the wee hours of the day or late night when commuters are desperate to board any vehicle on sight.
They also operate in cabs or buses with two or more persons pretending to be passengers already seated.
A 37-year-old journalist in one of the newspaper houses in Abuja, who fell into the hands of “once chance” criminals on his way back home in Dutse-Alhaji after a hard day’s work around 9.30pm recently, recounted his ordeal to The AUTHORITY.
The victim, John, who wants only his first name mentioned, said it was a close shave with death.
“I was standing at the Minister’s Hill junction in Maitama that Wednesday night when a cab with three occupants stopped close to me. They asked where I was going and I replied Dutse, and the driver asked me to enter. I had no feeling that something evil was going to happen.
“They zoomed off but I was a bit restless in the cab even though a lady was among the passengers, who were actually a gang of robbers. As the driver who had to move into the centre of the highway, was approaching my destination, Dutse, I reminded him that I was going to stop but he increased the speed, pretending not to hear me. As we moved closer to Second Gate in Kubwa where I knew a police vehicle was always stationed, I wound down the glass and started shouting that I was being kidnapped.
“They were alarmed at my action and started hitting me. But after moving a bit further, they slowed down and pushed me out of the vehicle, and zoomed off with my bag containing my laptop, two phones and some amount of money.
“I sustained some injuries on my head, hand and legs. I was lucky that I was not crushed by other vehicles coming behind. One man stopped and helped me to the hospital. I left my car at home because of the high cost of fuel and we have not been paid for some months,” he recounted.
He warned Abuja commuters to be careful about the vehicles they enter along Kubwa Expressway.
Another story came from a member of staff of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) who lives at Lugbe and would not like his name mentioned. His account: “A well-dressed man approached me recently while I was sitting in my car waiting for my wife who had gone to the MTN office to do something.
“He said he saw me as a gentle man who he could do business with. With confidence, he told me that the easiest way to make money these days in Abuja is to exchange genuine N1,000 note with fake ones at 50-50. He showed me the money which looked genuine and said that many people are into it in Abuja, transacting the business with a syndicate he heads. He mentioned two new generation banks (names withheld) where they have insiders who are also into it.
“To show how easy the money could be spent, he called an ice cream seller, purchased one for N200, and the innocent boy gave him a change of N800. We arranged where to meet the following day so that we can do the business but he may have feared that I could contact security agents, which I actually did, but he didn’t show up. I have to contact you as a journalist who can alert Abuja residents because they seem to have invaded the town”, he said.
A pharmacist who has a shop at Biaji area of Kubwa also recounted his story thus: “A man came to my shop and bought cough drug and game me N1,000 bill. I didn’t suspect anything and gave him the balance of N750. It was later I discovered that it was a fake note on closer look. I had to perforate the note and paste it on my counter so that other people could take proper note of it. I think fake currency note criminals are in Abuja now,” he said.
The FCT Police Public Relations Officer did not reply to text messages sent to his phone on the rising crime wave in the nation’s capital.
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