Following the increasing rate of vandalism and removal of manhole covers across the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ahmed Abubakar Audi, PhD, mni, OFR, vows to deploy tactical team to end the menace.
According to a press statement signed by the Director, Public Relations, NSCDC NHQ, Abuja, DCC Olusola Odumosu, states that he made this commitment during a visit to the Hon Minister of FCT, Muhammad Musa Bello, where he expressed concern about the disturbing criminal trend of vandalism of public infrastructure in the city, especially manhole covers.
“We are ready to deploy a very robust security strategy to stop manhole theft, this is very disturbing and it has to stop.
“We have seen that stealing of these items occur even on presidential routes, i assure you that we will increase surveillance on those manholes and deploy our tactical team for public infrastructure protection.
“We are in charge of protecting critical national assets and infrastructure and manholes are considered as part of such infrastructure, we are going to deploy accordingly”, the CG said.
He commends the FCT Command for its recent arrest of some scavengers popular called “Baba mbola” caught removing manhole covers and vandalising other public utilities in the Fct.
He charged the Command to step up efforts by deploying a robust team that will be going round to give protection to manholes which has become death traps in some parts of the city.
“We are going liase and work closely with the Director of security and SSA on security to identify vulnerable areas so that we can deploy our team of specialised intelligence officers who have just returned from training to give us information”, CG said.
The FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, congratulated the CG and by extension, the entire management team, officers and men of NSCDC for the well deserved national honour and special recognition by Mr president.
“Let me first of all congratulate you, your management and the entire officers and men of the Corps for the well deserved honour by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Since your appointment, we have seen how you have repositioned the Corps and how you are making a lot of efforts along all facets to improve the service, i pray that God continues to grant you success”, the Hon. Minister said.
He went further to express satisfaction with the FCT Commandant, Dr. Peter Maigari with respect to Public Infrastructure protection and improved security of the Fct.
He said “because of the scale and size of the Fct, your organisation needs additional support and the deployment of your tactical team is very important.
“Of course your core mandate includes protection of public assets, registration, monitoring and supervision of private security companies among other duties.
“Due to the unique position of the FCT, I want to suggest that you really deploy extra men and women across the city to target infrastructure protection.
“The level of infrastructure development in the Fct is incomparable to anywhere in the country and anything you see here in terms of infrastructure is very expensive, of the highest quality and standards.
“The scale of vandalism in the last few months is unprecedented, manhole covers, telecommunication installations, solar panel for street lights, for traffic intersections, cables, rails and bridges all are being vandalised.
“And simply because these facilities are very expensive, we are very pleased that you are committing your service to provide a tactical team to do it.
The Minister appealed to the CG to focus priority attention on public assets and infrastructure protection in the Fct.
He lamented the scale of expenditure incurred to maintain damaged or vandalised infrastructure and charged the Corps to go a step further by targeting the markets where these items are sold.
“On manhole alone, we have an expenditure of about N3 billion for us to replace what has been stolen and because they are specialised items, even if you have the money on ground, you can’t get them, it has to be ordered, it has to be fabricated.
“And going forward, i think the Corps has to target the markets and that requires tremendous amount of intelligence gathering so that, you are able to look at the entire value chain.
“Those that steals the items sell it somewhere and most times, they are being transported outside Abuja, but they must have a place they store them before transportation.
“I’m sure with the calibre of intelligence staff that you have, if your men work assiduously on this, a lot of success would be recorded”, the Minister expressed.
He emphasised that, more attention needs to be given to protection of public assets because of its toll on government finances especially when the underground cabling systems are compromised.
“For instance, because manhole covers are being stolen, everyone is affected as the fibre optics cables that are inside become exposed to weather elements which impacts on the quality of life, telecommunications services and Internet speed.
“Secondly, If you look at the Gwarimpa axis, we have deployed solar street lights but they’ve started vandalising them, the multi plier effects is bad and it requires a lot of concerted efforts for it to be minimised”, the Minister said.
He assured of continous partnership and provision of the needed support such as operational vehicles and other equipment to achieve success.
The CG appreciated the Fct Minister for the donation of operational vehicles made recently to Fct Command of the Corps, reiterating that it boosted its operations and promised judicious use to curb crime and criminalities in the Fct.