The past few weeks have not been the best of times for residents of Dakibiyu, following rising insecurity, deaths and demolition of illegal structures in parts of the community. CALEB ONWE reports
Dakibiyu, a rural community located in the Jabi District, Abuja Municipal Area Council, of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has a population of about 100, 000 people. The community, inhabited by Gbagi, the predominant indigenous tribe of Abuja, is said to have been in existence for over 160 years.
Though the community lacks basic social infrastructure, residents appear content with their dwarf round huts most of which have poor ventilation.
A good number of the houses in the community are makeshift structures comparable only to the tents you will find in a refugee camps. Both adults and children in this community seem to be endowed with a strange immunity against diseases, considering the poor sanitary condition of their environment.
There are several dark, stinking, mosquito infested gutters that could be described as purveyor of germs and diseases; yet, the enclave has never recorded any epidemic.
The impression one gets is that the primary concern of many of the residents, especially the indigenous inhabitants is not about the environment and state of infrastructure. They just want to hang on there until the government comes with some compensation package and probably relocate them to a new place.
In the meantime, residents have chosen to enjoy their life to the fullest.
The most common social and economic activities in the area are suya spots, liquor joints, brothels and local theatres. These leisure centres have made Dakibiyu a bustling place of choice for fun seekers for many years.
However, the community has been witnessing an increasing crime wave in recent times. Inside Abuja gathered that within a space of one week, about three persons were reportedly killed by some unknown assailants suspected to be cultists. Some residents have also linked the strange deaths to armed robbers and assassins.
Those, who finger cultists, alleged that the forests around the community have provided cover to these men of the underworld who operate both day and night without any form of challenge from the security agencies. It was also learnt that the forests used as operational base for these cultists, are also notorious spots for hard drugs.
The latest victim, Victor Vangeryin, was killed a forthnight ago by unidentified persons, who allegedly shot him on the chest and left him in a pool of his own blood. The incident occurred around 9:38pm, after he had closed the day’s business and was returning to his house, a stone’s throw from his business centre. Inside Abuja gathered that the young man, who was in his early 30s, was a native of Benue State.
Until his death, he was a POS operator in Dakibiyu community, where he was said to have lived in for more than 10 years. Reuben Nijihwev, a cousin of Victor, has linked the killings in the community to the activities of assassins. He told Inside Abuja that what happened to Victor, was very emotional for his family members.
Rueben asserted that that the killers may be assassins because the cash Victor had in his pocket at the time of the incident was intact after he was killed.
According to him, the killers left the N20,000 cash in his pocket and made away with five POS machines and his smart phone. “It was about 9:38pm on Monday, exactly the time he closes up his shop and took 5 POS and was coming back to the house which is very close to the shop. We heard him talking to somebody on phone.
We also heard gunshots. Before we came out from the house, he was already lying dead on the ground. His killer’s collected the 5 POS machines and his phone, but left the N20,000 we discovered in his pocket. “Before this incident, we are not aware that he was having any issue with anybody in this community.
We are not also aware that he entered into any deal with anyone but we know he is one of the officials who handle the monetary contributions we do here. “He conducts both daily and monthly contribution. He also lends money out to members of the contribution. As it stands now, we don’t know the people who are owing him. We are not also aware that anybody has ever come to fight him over money.
In this community, he is one of the most credible persons in the business. “This killing is beyond armed robbery. If it were mere armed robbery, they would have collected the N20,000 cash in his pocket at the time he was shot.
The morning after he was killed, we rushed to the bank to know if there was any unauthorised access to his bank accounts but there was nothing like that. “We are suspecting that it was a case of hired assassins. We have deposited his body at the mortu- ary after obtaining a police report. We are working with the Catholic Parish here to arrange for his burial.
“There is no security in this community because we heard that within the same week, another person, a lady, who does POS business in the community, was also stabbed while attempts were made to snatch her money. This area is volatile and vulnerable to criminal attacks.
Last year, there was also an incident where somebody was butchered by unknown people. My deceased brother had lived in this community for 10 years,” Reuben said.
While the relatives of the deceased were still mourning and community leaders trying to find solution to the insecurity, the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCTA) has stepped into the puzzle from a different angle.
In the thinking of the authorities, the increasing crime incidents and deaths in the community were indications of the presence of not just common criminals but terrorists. In their own reasoning, the way out was to demolish the numerous shanties in the community, believed to be the hideouts of these undesirable elements.
The demolition has already begun with the leisure spots. Director, Department of Development Control, FCTA, Murkta Galadima, said that some parts of the community have serious security concerns, not only to the residents, but to all around the environs. He noted that the demolition was designed to ensure orderliness and improve both security and sanitation in the nation’s capital. “These people that we removed, we will do everything possible to ensure that they don’t come back here.
We are sustaining this exercise. We must put everything in order. We even gathered that by 5pm, you cannot pass through a part of the community called Sambisa,” he said. Secretary of the Dakibiyu Chiefdom, Andy Sanga, said that while the community is not opposed to government’s avowed plans to demolish parts of the settlement, the issue of providing security should not be neglected. “The killings in this community is actually a bad news, very
shocking and sad. This community is very big with over 180,000 people, and we don’t have security here.
The police outpost we have less than give policemen. “We are appealing to Inspector General of Police to help us with more policemen. On behalf of the Chief’s Palace, we have reached out to the deceased family to sympathise with them. Dakiyibu is an old settlement area, over 160 years,” Sanga said.
A number of residents who spoke with Inside Abuja are not comfortable with the sudden claim by the Federal Capital Territory Department of Development Control that their homes must be demolished because the crime level in the community had reached an unbearable stage or the postulations that the area is harbouring terrorists.
Even though they live in a poor environment, they are not in a hurry to give up a place, which has been part of their lives for several years now.