By Lateef Taiwo
Victims of demolition exercises in the FCT usually engage in wailing and accusation of the FCT Administration’s authorities of highhandedness and insensitivity.
It was a different story when the FCTA demolition squade returned to Gishiri, a densely populated slum contiguous to highbrow Maitama District in the heart of Abuja.
Some of the victims, who spoke to us in confidence during the second day of demolition exercise in Girishi on Thursday, said that unless the government bulldozers moved deeper into the ‘Casablanca’ area of the slum and carried out a total demolition, Abuja, and indeed the entire a FCT was unsafe.
Speaking under condition of anonymity, one of the victims who hails from one of the States in North Central Nigeria, averred that she never slept with her two eyes closed throughout her two years’ stay in Gishiri.
“Let me be honest with you, I don’t want to be selfish here; the level of insecurity in Gishiri was too much. Even though my house has been demolished, I am happy becuase it always pained me to see innocent people attacked and their items stolen from them. Yesterday, a pregnant woman was stabbed and her phone snatched from her.
“Those guys operate as a syndicate. They work together with their gangs in Mpape and Mabushi, snatching phones, bags and other valuables from vulnerable residents as early as from 8:30pm. When am out till 8pm, I don’t bother coming back because it is dangerous.
“It was hard to stop them becuase it was like some of those people with rope round their waist were supporting them, because after attacks, when one reports, they simple say there is nothing they can do”, she narrated.
According to her, Gishiri was a safe haven for all the criminals who committed all sorts of robberies in the city and elsewhere in the nation’s capital.
Senior Special Assistant to FCT Minister on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement, Ikharo Attah, who let the FCTA team, said that his team would ensure total demolition of the slum community and all others.
Ikharo disclosed that the government was acting based on security reports about criminal activities associated with Gishiri, vowing that they would not relent because government was transiting 29 May, else the salaries and allowances they were still collecting would amount to corruption.
The journalist-turned enforcement expert said that the FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello has given directives rid the slum of such illegalities and security threat, vowing he would return to Gishiri over and over until all the illegalities were cleared.
On his part, Director, FCTA Department of Development Control, Muktar Galadima, stated that some of the structures were built right on the right of way of a major road corridor traversing Jahi, by Next Cash Supermarket and Maitama Junction.
Galadima therefore called on owners of plots in Gishiri to move in quickly and take possession of property, warning that the FCT Administration would make them bear any cost of subsequent demolition of illegal structures on their property.