There is palpable fear in many areas of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as bandits and kidnappers now operate freely at night in many parts of the town, with police patrols no longer in sight.
The fear is also heightened by the sudden influx of commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders, into the satellite towns, posing more threat and danger to the safety of residents.
In Kubwa, Dei-Dei and Zuba, residents have reported attacks by kidnappers and armed robbers in the last one week.
Some of the attacks are said to be perpetrated by hoodlums suspected to be roaming bandits.
Some of the hoodlums, disguised as motorcyclists, have defied the ban imposed on the use of commercial motorcycles by the FCT administration and dared the FCT Ministerial Task Team on Traffic Management as they move in droves into the suburbs of the territory.
A large number of motorcyclists were sighted by SaharaReporters at various locations in the city operating unhindered.
Such areas include Kubwa, Nyanya, Jabi, Apo, Durumi, Guzape, Mpape and Airport Road.
Many residents are now living in fear of the growing menace of the criminal activities of some of the operators who disguise and hide under the cover of commercial motorcyclists to perpetrate crimes.
There is also apprehension and fear that the ranks of these motorcyclists may have also been infiltrated by the Boko Haram, bandits and other criminal elements.
In Kubwa, robbers and kidnappers have operated in the last one week in Chikakore, Bizyahin, Shelter Farms and Gbazango areas. Residents lamented that the police were not present in most of the cases.
“We reported but the police made no arrest. None of these criminals has been picked up. They come at night with cutlasses, machetes and charms. A few of them brandish locally made guns. They are able to kill easily if you don’t let them rob you. Sometimes, they kidnap soft targets and later call you for ransom,” a resident around Liberty Junction lamented.
Away from Kubwa, only last Sunday near St. Mary Catholic Church along Nyanya-Karshi Road, some motorcyclists stormed the area, protesting against the alleged killing of their colleagues and theft of their motorcycles.
The incident which resorted into violence caused tension and anxiety in the area as residents scampered for safety.
This happened barely a few days after a truckload of over 200 unidentified men suspected to be bandits allegedly arrived at Sabon Wuse area of Niger State, a border town with Bwari Area Council in FCT.
The report has heightened tension and sent shivers down the spines of the residents, forcing many of them to relocate for fear of being kidnapped or attacked.
A resident who identified himself as Andrew Chibike described the development as worrisome.
According to him, it must be given due attention considering the volatile nature of the country.
“We are surprised to see that the commercial motorcycles have resurfaced and they are very rude and daring this time around. The security agents have to do more and chase them out of the town because of the things that are happening all over the country,” he said.
The motorcyclists approached declined to comment when prodded to speak on their return.
Meanwhile, the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma in a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Yusuf Mariam, assured residents of their safety ahead of Sallah celebrations just as he enjoined residents to report all suspicious movements to security agents.
To many residents of the FCT, however, their trust in the police to curb criminality has dwindled as the criminals appear to have overwhelmed the security architecture.