Inside Kaduna’s dangerous neighbourhoods

Posted by News Express | 7 November 2020 | 1,018 times

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It was a Wednesday night and 38-year-old Aminu Mohammed Ibrahim had just returned to Kaduna from Kano, where he had gone for his documentation, having just secured employment with the Kano Electricity Distribution Company.

Armed with his appointment letter and a new ID card, Aminu had earlier left the KEDCO office to visit his sister in Kano and shortly after, she dropped him off at the motor park to make the two and half hour journey to Kaduna.

While at Jaji, about 39km from Kaduna, Aminu called his elder brother Kamal to let him know he was almost home.

However, that was not to be as Kamal said he received a call from a hospital around 10pm telling him that his brother had been brought to the hospital in Kaduna with stab wounds.

 “I couldn’t believe it. I had planned to call him while he was settled at home because when he told me he was in Jaji, I concluded that he had already arrived since Jaji wasn’t far from Kaduna,” a distraught Kamal who works at the Federal University Dutse narrated.

Unknown to Aminu’s family, as soon as he alighted from the commercial vehicle at Kawo, in Kaduna, our correspondent gathered that he had called his sister in Kano to inform her of his arrival and then tried to flag down a taxi to the city.

But unknown to him, the light from his handset had attracted hoodlums lurking in the dark who immediately pounced on him, stabbed him and made away with his phone.

With the help of an elderly man and a security officer, Aminu was conveyed to the hospital where he died while being treated.

The tragic incident that claimed Aminu’s life,  is one of many such deadly attacks on innocent persons by hoodlums usually lurking around the Kawo area and other dangerous neighbourhoods in Kaduna.

Such youths are found in neighbourhoods that have become major flashpoints for security agents during crises.

Our correspondents gathered from residents of Black Street around Sabon Tasha, Malali bus stop, Ori-Akpata, Kabala road and Katuru road where the activities of these hoodlums are common, that their influence is exacerbated by the use of illicit drugs.

“Insecurity thrives in those neighbourhoods which have become flashpoints due to the activities of unemployed youths who take to the streets to launch mayhem on the slightest provocation,” said Ibrahim Hassan who lives around Malali bus stop.

The attack on Aminu Mohammed Ibrahim has brought attention to the activities of hoodlums lurking around Kawo since the demolition of the famous Kawo mini-flyover to make way for a new bridge in April.

According to the Coalition of Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), a community-based security organisation in Kaduna, the Kawo bridge area has turned into one of the most dangerous spots especially for strangers and travellers.

The State Publicity Secretary of the CJTF, Sanusi Surajo, said the community-based security organisation was fully aware of the happenings around Kawo as they have informants who investigate some of the nefarious activities.

He assured that the CJTF was working on securing the area to bring sanity to Kawo.

But Kawo, which was recently turned into a large construction site, did not only recently become one of the deadliest convergence points for hoodlums.

Its mini-fly over had for years served as a meeting ground for hoodlums from various neighbourhoods.

Aminu’s brother, Kamal, said while speaking with security agents and civilian JTF on the incident that led to the demise of his brother, he was told that the hoodlums had slashed a young lady’s hand in an attempt to snatch her phone while alighting from a commercial bus a day before the attack on his brother.

“Mostly, the hoodlums target people with phones, that is what they go after, they stab and injure those who try to wrestle with them and in some cases even kill,” said an apprentice in the Kawo area.

 “Kawo has been dangerous for a long time, but the activities of the hoodlums have worsened since the construction work on rebuilding the bridge commenced. This is because all the street lights in the area have been removed so at night, the entire area is dark. Once the petrol stations close for the day, that is it, it becomes a field day for hoodlums and no one is safe, including security operatives,” he said.

Ismaila Hamza who has sold engine oil and other vehicle lubricants for over two decades around Kawo said in the past, he used to remain at his kiosk to market his products for late night travellers and only closed for the day at 10pm.

But now, Hamza says he closes shop by 8pm due the activities of the hoodlums.

“Even security agents dare not pass here at night because once the fuel stations are closed for the day, the entire place turns dark and the hoodlums don’t care who you are, they don’t respect anyone including security agents,” Hamza said.

While visiting Kawo, our correspondents gathered that those who stabbed Aminu had escaped through a broken fence into a graveyard leaving him in the pool of his blood.

Aminu was said to have alighted from a vehicle that left Kano in the evening and had alighted on the main road, a few meters to the graveyard.

A newspaper vendor in the area told Daily Trust that he heard of Aminu’s tragic end the following day and said more than five people had been attacked and escaped with injuries while their phones were seized from them on the same day Aminu died.

“It is unfortunate they killed the young man, but usually they send one person to steal your phone while others rush to you, pretending they want to help or pretending to chase after the thief but it is a ruse, they are all in it together, it is their mode of operation,” he said.

Having lost his son Aminu to hoodlums, Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, the former Director General of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) said he has heard of the nefarious activities of hoodlums around Kawo since the construction work commenced about five months ago.

Like many others, the former DG said the activities of the hoodlums are being aided by the lack of security lights in the area.

“We learnt that a lot of people have been attacked around that area and because of our attitude as Nigerians; some will report the matter and others will simply let it go. I’m sure the security agents know this is happening,” he said.

Malali Bus stop, according to the Kaduna State Police Command, is one of the major flashpoints in the state despite constant raiding by security agents.

Our correspondents gathered that there are three dangerous spots around Malali bus stop and they include Calabar Quarters, Dandali and Liberia road.

“Anyone who moves around freely from 6pm in any of these three areas is on his own,” said Femi Oyelola, a journalist who resides around Malali.

Oyelola told our correspondents that he was a victim of the hoodlums’ attack in 2018 but is glad that he only lost his phone in the process.

“The Nigerian Union of Journalists gave me some money to give to the family of a colleague that died in the area. I visited, gave them the money and while leaving for my house, one of the young men came to me, crying. He leaned on my shoulder and as I was trying to console him, he reached into my chest pocket, picked my phone and ran away. I started shouting to attract attention and a few people ran after him, but he went into Liberia road which is their safe zone so we stopped the pursuit.”

Like Femi Oyelola, Ibrahim Hassan, who lives around Malali bus stop said most of the youths take advantage of a crisis situation to mount roadblocks to attack and maim passersby.

He said on normal days, the activities of the youths include pickpocketing and robbery within the community.

On Black Street, located around Sabon Tasha, Benjamin Auta (Not real name), a resident of the community said they have learnt to live with the youths as necessary evils because most of them are well known by residents.

“Their attention has now been mostly on outsiders, not people who live in the community because we all know them so they hardly attack or steal from us. They take advantage of strangers who visit the community,” he said.

Auta said Black Street, nicknamed for the illicit activities of the youths is one of the notorious communities with a high number of unemployed youths as well as drug users and peddlers.

“Most times, the youths go outside the community to commit their crime and return. There are times the Police come looking for some of them for one crime or the other and they are arrested, but their parents often get them out.

“Most of the youths are into drugs; they are also jobless and find common satisfaction in criminality. The community knows about them but they are shielded mostly by their parents and so we just avoid them. There are vigilante youths who help checkmate their activities but you will find that some of the members of vigilante were equally in the same circle with the youths so the impact is not really felt,” he said.

A shop owner close to Kabala West Junction who simply identified himself as Abdul for security reasons said the activities of the thugs in the area has been on the decline since the demolition of their hang-out structure to make way for a mosque expansion.

According to him, in the past, the boys used to gather around the junction to terrorize residents, particularly at night.

“They used to dispossess residents of their phones and other belongings at night.”

He explained that recently, the boys were forced to move to other locations since a shop they used as a convergence point close to the Kabala Mosque was demolished.

However, the Civilian Joint Task Force emphasised that despite the pockets of attacks in some communities, the activities of hoodlums are on the decline.

“We are liaising with the people of Kabala and Narayi communities to ensure peace in that area. We also have boys in the Gonin Gora area and we are succeeding in chasing away the hoodlums and the nuisance they usually pose to the communities,” said the CJTF.

Corroborating Benjamin Auta’s position on communities shielding hoodlums, the Police Public Relations Officer Kaduna Police Command, ASP Mohammed Jalige, said though the police have increased raids in some of the flashpoints and continue to target the suppliers of illicit drugs which is a driving force for criminality, the lack of adequate information from communities has always been a hindrance.

ASP Jalige said the attack on Aminu was not reported to the police until days later but said the force had swung into action and arrested nine suspects, one of which was screened out while the other eight have been arraigned in court.

“We learned about their hideout in Hayin Baki and the DPO in charge of the area has received instructions to raid the place,” he said.

The police said because there have been constant raids in some of the flashpoints such as Malali bus stop, Katuru road, Kabala road and Ori-Akpata, the crime rates in those areas was on a gradual decline.

“Mostly the communities harbour them because most of the drug suppliers and those who buy are their children and so they don’t give out adequate information to us to raid the areas. However, we have intensified patrols and constant raids and recently, we got possession of about 1,500 kilogram of leaves suspected to be Indian hemp and hundreds of codeine bottles based on these raids,” he said.

Aminu was the son of the former Director General of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, who is also the Makama of Ringim and District Head of Kanya Babba in Jigawa State.

Speaking of his son, the district head said Aminu had principles that he never compromised no matter what.

Until his death, Aminu knew what he wanted and did things his own way at his own time.

According to his father, he dropped out of university at 300L while studying Political Science at Ahmadu Bello University even when he had excellent results.

“He stayed home for two years before he decided to go back to school.”

By the time he secured admission at Kaduna State University, Aminu rejected Political Science and went ahead to study Economics and while at 300L, he decided he needed to take a year off.

“Two of his friends pleaded with me that they wanted to pay for his deferment and they paid the money while he spent the whole year at home, eating and sleeping. He then went back after a year and finished. At the time he finished, he was more than 30 years and so he was exempted from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and it took him one and half years to get the exemption,” he said.

According to Makama Ringim, “You will never find Aminu where there is injustice or taking any form of drugs. He got a part time job with one of the computer training institutes and the job offer came and they were looking for a marketing officer at Kano Electricity Distribution Company and he went for an interview and got the job. He was exceptionally intelligent.”

The last time the former DG spoke with his son was on the day he died.

“He called me around 2pm that he had finished his documentation in Kano and wanted to travel to Kaduna on that day. I told him I was also coming to Kaduna from Jigawa on Thursday early enough so I could pick him up in Kano but he said he would not accept my offer because he had something to do early on Thursday.”

The next news he got later that night was that Aminu had been stabbed by hoodlums around Kawo and was later confirmed dead.

According to members of the Civilian JTF, their members can check the activities of hoodlums but only with adequate assistance from government and communities.

“We need the assistance of the state government in terms of mobility, equipment such as torchlight and also stipends for our members,” said Sanusi Surajo.

He said their efforts have led to the arrest and hand over of several hoodlums to security agents and have stationed a vehicle at the Kawo area for patrol to assist the efforts of the police.

“We are planning to open an office at Kawo and we have also made arrangements with some of our youths in Kawo and Badarawa axis to ensure that all the hoodlums in those areas are made to leave,” he said.

The Kaduna State Police Command while speaking on the lack of security light at the Kawo area, said it will work with the local government council and some fuel stations around the axis to illuminate the area by hanging security lights on poles.

The Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige, also assured that the police will be working with members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to ensure that passengers are not dropped off along the dangerous axis at night.

“Meanwhile, we will continue to raid the hideouts of these hoodlums,” he assured.

However, the Makama Ringim, Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, doubts security agents are poised to handle the situation and says the problem is dynamic.

The former DG told Daily Trust that one must look at the problem from a broader perspective.

“First, our attitude to the discipline of our children is now faulty, that is to say that something has already gone wrong and we need to make amends. A lot of parents do not bother to give their children the proper upbringing even if they don’t go to school. Unfortunately, so many parents don’t even know where their children sleep and where they eat and this is a common problem both in the urban and rural areas.”

He said to understand the enormous responsibility of the Nigeria Police, one must analyse the fact that the Police are “undermanned, undertrained and under-disciplined.”

“When you are working as a police officer without the necessary gadgets and orientation, then there is trouble. There is a lot of responsibility for the police to undertake, I think we are pushing our luck too far and this is why crime detection and prevention is becoming more difficult on a daily basis. Yes, there is not much the police can do,” he said.   (Daily Trust)

 


Source: News Express

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