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News: In Abuja Unpainted taxis now used by criminals

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Criminals are using unpainted taxis for operations in the Nigeria Federal Capital Abuja despite banned, Pulse has gathered.

The ban was to reposition the transportation system in the federal capital territory with the view to de-congesting the city of the perennial traffic gridlock as well as checkmate activities of criminals.

Though its introduction and implementation meet some serious opposition as a result of some inadequacies in the new transport policy, government was able to push the implementation to a reasonable degree.

However, the continual implementation of the policy is suffering a serious setback as those charged with the responsibility of enforcing some of the restrictions imposed by the policy seems to be violating them with criminals also taking advantage.

Some officers and men of the Nigerian police force and other Para military agencies are using their vehicles to operate taxi in the city, making criminals taking advantage to rob members of the public their belongings.

“Some brand of criminality, such as ‘One chance,’ bag snatching is currently taking toll in Abuja,” Baba Musa said.

It was in a determined effort to curb these raising waves of criminality in the territory, particularly the ‘one chance’ menace among many others that the FCT administration in their wisdom decides to ban some means of transportation from operating in certain districts within the territory.

Such mean of transportation which is considered more efficient and cheap to the common men includes mini buses, motorcycle, and tricycles popularly known in the area as ‘Araba, ‘okada’ and ‘Keke Napep.’

Though, some of the reasons adduced by government for imposing the restriction were to decongest the city of the notorious and unwanted traffic gridlock which made the city rowdy, uncivilized and difficult.

Over five transport unions were licensed by the FCT administration to regulate and control the activities of the said unpainted taxi in the territory. Each of the union has a distinct colour that identifies them from the other in addition to ensuring that criminals do not hide under the guise of taxi business to carry out criminal activities using unpainted taxis.

Nonetheless, there is an ugly twist to the aforesaid restriction and measures put in place to curtail the excesses of these men of underworld.

Security operatives particularly officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force that were supposed to enforce the order have now taken to violation of the good policy. Some of them are exploiting the opportunity created by the restriction order to make brisk businesses.

Recent finding reveals that security operatives also operate with unpainted taxi within the city as taxis. The situation, it was gathered have made a lot of residents to fall into the hands of criminals operating on unpainted cars as Taxis.

Some of the security agents are using motorcycle in areas where they were banned. A case in point is Asokoro where the use ofOkada by police officers is now common.

Deputy Chairman National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) FCT Chapter, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaji has decried the growing practice of using unpainted taxi to commute passengers within the territory by officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force, (NPF).

Gaji who commend the relentless effort of FCT Police Commissioner, Mr. Wilson Inelagu in combating crime in the capital city also called his attention to the use of motorcycle, popularly known as ‘Okada’ to commute passengers in areas where their activities were prohibited.

The union leader expressed confident in the ability of the police commissioner to end the ‘one chance’ menace in the territory, saying that those before him paid deaf ear to the problem.

Three commissioners of police had been on that seat since we assume office as union leaders but all our complaints about the use of unpainted taxi by some criminal element to perpetrate ‘one chance’ in FCT particularly along Berger junction and Mabushi area of the city, where they move innocent people to Zuma Rock area and kill them for ritual purpose meet a deaf ear. Meanwhile during our meeting with the current commissioner recently, we raised the issue and he immediately called the Divisional Police Officers (DPO) in control of the aforesaid areas and ordered them to raid the area. We pray that the operation will be successful so that FCT residents will enjoy some peace from these men of underworld.

We have cordial relationship with FCT police command, but the only area we have issue with them is in the area of unpainted taxi.  It is public knowledge that some police officers are using their private vehicles for commercial purposes, when they are not on duty, and you know that we cannot stop them. They usually go to work with extra cloths, which they often use to cover their uniform, whenever they are out for taxi business. They drag passengers with our members with their unpainted taxi in the city. Some of them even use motorcycle to commute passengers in districts where such means of transportation is prohibited by law.

When those empowered by legislations to enforce law become the law breakers, what can we do? They do these things with impunity in the city because nobody is calling them to order. However, we believe that the commissioner will do something about it because we had already complained to him about it.
Linus Aleke contributed reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.

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