By Joyce Remi-Babayeju
The FCT Administration Transport Secretariat on Thursday arrested 5 scavengers who specialize in pilfering the Abuja light rail project facilities.
The criminals were caught during the early hours of Wednesday as they were pilfering some perimeter fences, Communication cables were arrested by the vigilante security group assigned to guard the railway facilities.
The Mandate Secretary, Transportation Secretariat Uboku Nyah who visited the various sections of the vandalized rail track at Kukwuaba condemned the act of sabotage and criminality.
Nyah wondered why such government funded projects to provide social infrastructure to ease the living conditions of people would be sabotaged by vandals.
He vowed that he will ensure that appropriate authorities institute legal actions against the suspects to serve as a deterrent to others.
Nyah said, “Over the past few days, the FCT Minister has been emphasizing the importance of efficient transportation, particularly the rail transportation, in line with the vision of the renewed hope agenda of the President, in providing cheap and safe transportation for our people.”
“The anchor of that is on the rail transportation, which can move the people massively from one place to another, and the government has invested heavily in that infrastructure.”
“We are sad to come and see what has happened. We got this report in the office that there has been a lot of vandalization on our protective fences, tracks, and communication cables. We came to see what has been happening, and we can confirm what we have seen.”
He lamented that the rail services which is expected to start this year, is now delayed with the cost of double spending.
” But when we came here and see that even the cables and the protective fences have been vandalized by our people, it is something that takes us back, and it is criminal for anybody to do this.
The FCT Minister will not take this lightly, as the full weight of the law will be visited on the people, Nyah warned.
Fortunately, a few of these people have been taken in, and whatever is due legally will be done to discourage other people from acting against the interest of the government and the people.”
Narrating how the arrest was effected, the General Supervisor, SEGAD Security Japhet MaiKeffi, said he and his men were on their routine patrol when they sighted the suspects digging the rail tracks to remove the armored cables.
He explained that his team immediately swung into action by chasing the suspected vandals, who took to their heels to escape arrest that night. But their vigilance and strategy paid off in the early hours of Wednesday when the suspects ran into their ambush.
“Two days ago when we went out for general patrol, at about 2:10 am, we sighted four young people (suspects) digging the rail tracks, to remove the armoured cables inside the bush, immediately we parked, and flashed torchlight, and when they noticed us, they started running, but we chased after hem.”
“And we laid ambushed inside the bush while waiting for them, till about 5:05 Am, then one of them was seen coming out with a shovel on his hand, that was when we immediately arrested him.
He added that they used the arrested suspect’s phone to track others to their residences in a Baba-bola (scavengers) settlement at Gwagwa, where they were all arrested and taken into custody.”
The lead member of the gang who gave his name as Salisu Ibrahim, who claims her is a motor mechanic who spoke in hausa language said that he was forced to join the criminal gang due to lack of job.
Ibrahim confessed, “Our work is to vandalise, steal the cables and sell and this is the fourth time I’ve been involved in this activity.”