Editorial

April 12, 2024

Beyond Abuja’s operation sweep

Beyond Abuja’s operation sweep

In a proactive move, the Federal Capital Territory Command of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, swept through some outliers of Abuja recently and nabbed 85 criminal suspects from their hideouts in the Durumi and Dei-Dei sections of the city.

These are some of the numerous slums that have developed to accommodate the poor who erect shanties. They also attract the presence of shady characters who engage in all sorts of crimes, including robberies, kidnapping, gangsterism, gunrunning, “Yahoo-yahoo”, terrorism and currency counterfeiting. These kinds of communal setups exist in every major urban area because of the ubiquitous rural-urban migration which remains unmitigated.

People run from poverty and lack of opportunity in the rural areas only to get trapped in urban penury. Some turn to crime to survive. The worsening economic conditions of the past two years have deepened this drift. Harsh government policies have led to massive business closures and scarcity of gainful employment opportunities, swelling the number of the urban jobless and vulnerable.

We laud the Police for this sweep and urge them to intensify it throughout the country so as not to allow criminal networks any foothold to prey on innocent citizens. We also laud the decision of the law enforcement agency to thoroughly screen the suspects to ensure that only those found culpable for criminalities will be brought to book. This is very important to ensure that innocent citizens trapped in the slums are not treated as criminals and probably converted to same.

Years of bad governance can take the major blame for the unhealthy drift of people to the urban areas. Lack of amenities in the rural areas, such as water, light, good schools, health facilities and job opportunities which conduce to good living, are major drivers of the rural-urban drift. The menace of jihadist terrorism, banditry and rampaging armed herdsmen have further driven people from their farms into urban slums.

These are matters that can only be addressed through good governance. Bad government is chiefly responsible for the widening of ungoverned spaces in the hinterlands where these armed criminals hold sway at the expense of hard-working, law-abiding citizens. Our military, security and law enforcement agencies must be supported to retrieve these spaces and plug the millions of idle youth back to the land to recharge our economy.

Deliberate efforts to stem urban drift will help keep criminal interlopers out of our forests and farmlands while we harness them to boost the economy. The state governments must take the lead in this effort while the Federal Government tackles the security threats. The rural areas must be made habitable and profitable. There are countless opportunities waiting to be developed in the countryside. We must take advantage of them. That way, the crime level will drastically drop.