As a way to minimize the increasing criminality in Abuja, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, has charged security agencies to arrest anyone who comes to solicit bail for arrested criminals.
He made the suggestion following reports that such criminals were being released through the intervention of prominent citizens in the territory.
Appearing at the 40th edition of the ministerial press briefing organized by the presidential communications team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he appealed to residents to expose those involved in freeing such urchins by reporting them to authorities.
Mohammed affirmed that the criminal justice system in the territory has challenges as its three correctional facilities are now filled with capacities and unable to take in more convicts.
According to him, criminals convicted in Abuja courts are now being sent to Suleja in Niger State even as the territory is proposing what he called a “bolster centre” to accommodate underage convicts.
He said, “Well, quite frankly, I am not aware that when street urchins, all these people that do these street crimes are arrested, people seek for their release. I’m not aware. But more importantly, this is where citizen monitoring and engagement come in.
“I think if situations like these arise, it’s very important for people to speak out, and identify those influential people that try to pervert justice, because that’s the only way we can really sanitize our society.
“But going forward, the reality is that the criminal justice system has challenges as you know. As a matter of fact, where we arrest most of these people, even the Okada riders, and even those that violate traffic lights, when you go to the court system, sometimes they are given fines because even if you want to jail them, Abuja is serviced by three jails, the one in Kuje, Suleja, and the one in Keffi and all of them are filled to the brim.
“So, at the end of the day, where do you take them to? So, that’s why sometimes the system is such that you have no option but just to give them fines. And these fines are easily paid.
“About security, I want to tell you, the FCT is the most secure part of Nigeria today. Yes, we have insecurity here and there, it is a reality and it is a phenomenon that affects not just Nigeria but even our sub-region.
“But what I do know is that the security agencies in the FCT are doing extremely well. Because I will say it again, for every incident that you read in the papers or you see on social media or listen on the radio, I tell you 10 to 15 cases have been nipped in the bud. That is not out there in the public.
“For instance, we have through the security measures busted several cells of Boko Haram within the FCT, searching areas where they were and the kind of businesses they are doing and how they were able to blend easily within the wider community is something that cannot divulge here.”
The minister also said that he had demystified the office of the minister by devolving real powers to agencies which empowers them to carry out their responsibilities without undue interference.
He blamed the need for the demolition of structures in the territory on the failure of past ministers to properly carry out their responsibilities.
According to him, if agencies had been able to do their jobs, the structures earmarked for demolition would not have sprung up in the first place.
He added: “But having said that, of course, we demolish and we will continue to demolish. As a matter of fact, as we are seated here, a team is demolishing somewhere already today. And these things will continue because no matter how you try, they are those who still would not want to follow regulations, but now I think our team have been out there, trying to explain to people. And certain demolitions are just almost inevitable.
“For instance, you have to demolish illegal buildings along waterways. Because when a flash flood comes, the enormous power of running water during a flash flood is something that most people don’t know but you’ve seen it, can you raise a motorway with all the weight of the motorway?
“So, what we’ve done is we need to save lives. And that’s why we continue to demolish and we have to construct a road made for hundreds of thousands. And somebody decides, without seeking appropriate approval, to go and build on the middle of the road. So, are you going to make a detour in respect of one person to the detriment of hundreds of thousands or are you going just move it away?”
Speaking under the authority Minister, the Director of the Road Transport Service of the FCT, Dr Bello Abdullateef, revealed a plan to ban commercial motorcyclists in the territory.
According to him, they are important players in the distribution of hard drugs across the FCT and its suburbs.
He said: “The menace arising from many Okada riders is not just about traffic violations but also perpetration of crime. Okada is also used to deliver hard drugs across the city.”
He noted that clamping down on the menace would require a multi-sectoral approach.
As part of its strategies, the DRTS Chief said the FCT administration is introducing rider certification for those using Okada for dispatch activities.
“Therefore, until you are verified by the directorate of road transport service you may not be able to ride a bike across Abuja. We are remodelling the licensing and regulations as well”, he said.
He said since many of the contiguous states have banned Okadas, the FCT may soon do so to prevent the territory from becoming a dumping ground for them.