15 April 2018

Nigeria: As Security Agencies Go After Members - Kaduna Sara-Suka Gangs Go Into Hiding

Following an upsurge in clashes between notorious gangs in Kaduna towards the end of last month and the beginning of this month, tension heightened in several quarters, communities and settlements within the metropolis.

Within a spate of one week, more than 10 communities were caught in the throes of criminal activities by various gangs and their members, ranging from physical attacks of unsuspecting passersby, stealing and destruction of property, arson, and even murder.

Our correspondent had reported that a man who had gone out to buy bread for his family and three others were attacked at night in the Kawo area of Kaduna and almost had his hand severed from the wrist while attempting to block a blow from one his assailants.

At the Shehu Idris Crescent, off Gwamna Road, some gang members pursued a woman all the way from Badiko in order to collect her phone and caused more than an uproar in the usually serene environment as the lady tried to scream for help.

At Ungwan Sarki, a violent clash between two rival gangs led to the death of an innocent passerby who was caught in the crossfire.

The communities worst hit by such acts of brigandage are Tudun Wada, Rigasa, Nasarawa, Unguwar Mu'azu, ýZango, Jos road, Tudun Nufawa, Sabon Gari, Unguwar Sanusi , Ungwan Sarki and many others.

But following the outcry by members of the public, our correspondent learnt that the police and other security agencies swooped on some the hideouts and arrested many members of the gangs.

There are also indications that following the outcry, many of the gang members may have gone underground to avoid arrest and prosecution. Many of them, our correspondents were told, simply moved out of the area or travelled out of the state. This, our correspondent learnt, has scaled down the number of such attacks in many of these places.

A resident of Badarawa, who gave his name as Malam Baba Shehu, said his area had witnessed relative calm from gang clashes in the past one week. "I've not heard anything like that for the past one week. I don't know what happened, but really, I think it has come down," he said.

Some people, however, attributed the near absence of criminal gang activities to the conclusion of the local government primaries in the state. Political parties in the state were upbeat about concluding their primaries ahead of the forthcoming local government election in the state; hence many said the resurgence in gang clashes were because many of them were being used to supply thugs to politicians and their parties to give the impression that the aspirants and their parties were popular in certain areas.

A resident of Kawo said, "It was during the local government primaries that we started seeing boys we had not seen for a long time. They were driving Golf cars and playing loud music around our areas. They were being used by politicians, but immediately the primaries ended, they had nothing to do, so they started attacking innocent people."

The police public relations officer in Kaduna State, ASP Mukhtar Hussain Aliyu, however, told our correspondents that the command had stepped up efforts at ridding Kaduna communities of such hoodlums. He said that last week alone, the command had arrested 16 more suspects in connection with Sara-Suka activities in the state. Prior to that, 23 were arrested, bringing the number to 39.

He said the suspects, who are youths, were mostly from Anguwan Shanu and Anguwan Sarki, and would be charged to court as soon as investigation is concluded. He advised parents to counsel their wards, reiterating that the command would not tolerate any act of lawlessness that would lead to loss of lives and property.

Our correspondents also learnt that the Kaduna State police command would soon conduct a house-to-house survey to track criminals terrorising communities in the state. The commissioner of police, Austin Iwar, said that during community policing engagement with stakeholders in Rigasa, Hayin Malam Bello and Hayin Dan-Mani in Igabi Local Government Area, one of the problems raised by stakeholders was the identification of tenants who move in and out of the communities.

"House agents are giving houses to people who are criminals, so we have a house survey technique, a process of moving from house to house and carrying out survey on the kind of people that live there. The survey is targeted at looking out for those people that have backgrounds we don't understand and fish them out to face the law," he said.

He, however, said the effort would require massive support of communities, neighbours and well-meaning individuals and groups desiring to ascertain that people they live with are genuine. He pledged to create five additional police stations in the three communities.

Alhaji Tanimu Aliyu, secretary to the district head of Rigasa, commended the police commissioner for engaging communities in security activities. He pledged the cooperation of the communities to ensuring security in the district. He, however, called for the deployment of more policemen there.

Following the return of peace to Kaduna metropolis, many people have called on the authorities to sustain the action in order not to give room for the hoodlums to regroup.

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