Atrocities continue months after Gov Tambuwal’s demolition directive
By Musa Na Allah Sokoto
RAYMOND village is an outlawed ghetto settlement on the outskirt of Sokoto metropolis adjacent to Giginya Military Barracks Dambuwa in Dange/Shuni Local Government Area of the state.
Named after the first soldier who built his home there over 20 years ago, the settlement has now become a source of concern to the state government and its residents because of the rising incidents of crimes committed there on a daily basis.
Hardly does a day pass without a major troubling incident that leads to serious security breach. Brimming with all manner of houses and illegal structures, Raymond Village more or less a sprawling shanty that has become a major threat to peace and security in the state following its near takeover by criminally-minded elements who use it as a safe haven for their ‘businesses’ without any form of interference by security agencies.
Sadly, successive governments in Sokoto State have found it almost impossible to tackle the growing menace that Raymond Village has thrown up, seemingly oblivious of the atrocities being perpetrated daily by criminal elements who inhabit the hideout. Consequently, the place has grown exponentially in size over time, bringing in the good, the bad and the ugly to the scene.
But what seems to sustain its existence appears to be its proximity to the army barracks, which clearly provides additional cover and credibility to its inhabitants notwithstanding the nature of their activities. For this singular reason, drug dealers, armed robbers, kidnappers and even bandits are reported to be hiding in one location or the other inside the burgeoning illegal settlement and engaging in one form of criminality or the other with a growing sense of comfort.
The strong suspicion that drug dealers abound in the settlement has made it a regular point of visit by officers and men of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and other security agencies, though no serious action has been taken by any of them to deal with the sprawling illegal settlement and its occupants despite several visits.
It is reported that many top-ranking officials in uniforms use the settlement for storing illicit drugs in containers disguised as temporary accommodations, while armed robbers and kidnappers find the place a convenient hideout from public attention. They launch their nefarious operations from there and safely return to base without detection.
In fact, in 2002, suspected armed robbers reportedly took off from the village and killed two security guards at a petrol station in the state, cutting them into pieces for reasons yet to be ascertained till date.
Women of easy virtues, abandoned babies and evil-minded elements are found in large numbers in the same village. Recently one of the call girls in the village was spotted by passers-by sitting on an infant baby she had just delivered with intention to kill it. She was later arrested by the police.
Apparently concerned about the atrocities being carried out at the settlement, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, led members of the State Executive Council and security heads in the state on a visit to the settlement to ‘see things for themselves.
Based on what he saw, the governor ordered the immediate closure of the settlement and the arrest of those illegally residing and doing business there. Tambuwal also asked the police to commence 24-hour surveillance of the village and boldly announced that the illegal village would be demolished and the place used for a public utility like a hospital, mosque or school, a pronouncement that excited the residents of adjourning communities in the state.
As a mark of seriousness, the Ministry of Land and Urban Development began to survey and demarcate the village, giving hope that something concrete was about to happen to the slum. But till date, no serious action has yet taken place.
A visit to the village by Arewa Voice indicates increased illicit activities and a growing sense of apprehension by those living nearby. Many of them believe that cattle rustlers, kidnappers and other criminals who terrorise the state at will may be mixing up with people in the settlement.
Many of those contacted to speak on the situation of the settlement, declined to give their names for fear of being identified and dealt with by the elements residing there; but they pleaded with the state government to be firm in demolishing the ghetto for the sake of their security.
That the settlement is still standing today, many months after being ordered to be demolished by the governor, makes many to think that it is above demolition and being protected by some powerful forces.
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