Amina, a 15 -year-old pregnant girl is fetching water from a tap near her house. Her pregnancy seems to be in the advanced stage. Although she looks weak, she manages to lift the bucket of water and places it on her head while walking sluggishly towards her house, where she empties the content.
Later, she sits on the pavement struggling to get some fresh air and a young man sits some few metres from her, smoking a joint. Looking forlorn, she shakes her head several times and says to no one in particular;’ my God will see me through this’. This activates the journalistic knots in this reporter and like an overburdened soul, she opens up to this newspaper. Amina narrates how she was raped by one of her neighbours, a man in his fifties.
Her words; “Alhaji packed into our area when I was thirteen years old. He always called me his wife. My parents and younger ones knew him as he was very kind to my family. Not long after my 14th birthday, he started inviting me to his house. First, on the excuse of sending me on errands. Then, one day, he called me, as usual, to buy some things for him in the neighbourhood. I did not expect that he would start touching me. He offered me jollof rice and juice when I went to see him after delivering his message.
Suddenly, he locked the door. My cries did not matter to him as he made sure he had his way with me. “On reaching home, I reported him to my mom. When she confronted him, he begged for forgiveness but said he wanted me to marry him in a matter of months.
There was nothing my family could do as we could not afford to take the case to the police station. Alhaji without informing anybody, relocated from the area and I have not seen him till date.” Welcome to the abattoir area of Karu, a suburb of Abuja where all manners of nefarious activities are. carried out. Right from the road leading to the community, visitors and residents are greeted by unkhaggard-looking looking boys marketing their products – weed, Tramadol, cigarettes etc. Unlike the buildings in the highbrow areas of Wuse, Gwarinpa, Maitama and Asokoro, town planning rules and architectural designers are not followed in this ghetto as buildings are arranged haphazardly. In some cases, you have to bend over to access the houses.
The roofs of the houses are covered with zinc. People build shacks from whatever materials they can lay their hands on just to enable them to get places to sleep. Low- paying jobs is a major reason people reside far from the city centre. When it comes to housing and rent in Abuja, houses are quite expensive for the average citizen who has little or no source of income. In this self-contained apartment costs N120, 000, two-bedroom flat costs N250, 000. New National Star observes that the community houses all manner of people ranging from civil servants, business people, motorcycle operators, and men of questionable means of livelihood one-stop-shop community that lacks nothing as provision stores, mechanic shops, restaurants, beauty salons, bars and betting shops for gamblers operate there. There is a high level of crime in the neighbourhood which is not unconnected to the high intake of drugs and other hard substances by young men and women.
A young boy in his early twenties, informs this newspaper that taking drugs in broad daylight in the area is a ‘normal level’. He admits that the police take bribes from the drug sellers in order to protect them. His words, “when the police find us smoking, we give them some money to avoid arrest. It is a booming business here and drugs are sold openly and on-demand like water. ‘You want to buy the stuff (code name for drugs)?’ he asked cheerfully. A source tells this newspaper that barons are responsible for the steady supply of hard drugs to peddlers in the neighbourhood. He notes that the sale of hard drugs at the abattoir environs is responsible for the high rate of crime in the satellite town. He also reveals that rogue soldiers are aiding and abetting the drug peddlers. According to him, the peddlers give the soldiers money and they usually help to secure their release whenever they are arrested.
New National Star investigations also reveal that the drug peddlers sell Codeine, Tramadol and Marijuana within the environment and to other areas where drugs are demanded. Residents lament the high level of crime. They allege that it is not unconnected with the intake of hard drugs by the young people who inhabit the slum. A resident, Jeremiah Nachi, recounts how he was robbed on his way home from work. “I usually return home late as I work in a guest house in town.
I run shifts forcing me to go home very late or in the wee hours of the morning; I have been harassed on several occasions, rescued by the intervention of the vigilantes while my car has been burgled twice. Currently, I am looking for a house to relocate to as I can not live here any longer.” Another resident, Mr Samuel Itua (Not real names) says that the increase in crime rate is a threat to households around the abattoir as residents strive hard to protect their children from being abused and influenced by the drug users.
He said, the residents of the area are aware yet they are helpless about their plight. “This is not an environment to raise children especially females who are at a greater risk of sexual abuse by drug dealers. Last year, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) threatened to close down the Abattoir saying it has become a big threat and criminals have taken over the environment operating at different dimensions causing insecurity around the area.”
For Mr Nasir Abubakar, a Keke napep driver, he says the cost of living in town was too expensive so he relocated to the area with his family. However, apart from the security challenges they face, their health is also threatened. The stench from the abattoir, the air pollution caused by the smoke and lack of proper drainage system in the area pose dangers to the residents. A retailer says robbery is a daily occurrence in the area. Prostitution is also very high, underage girls come together from neighbouring areas.
Even students of a popular college in Mararaba are also involved in the business. She adds that at night, the number of girls on the street is always alarming.
There is no shame in it at all. Almajiri girls are not left out as they are seen smoking and wooing men effortlessly. Efforts to get a reaction from the DPO of Karu Police Division were unsuccessful. However, a police officer who sought anonymity informs this Newspaper that the police have arrested drug peddlers on several occasions, seizing their drugs.
He also revealed that most of the criminals do not live in the community rather they come from neighbouring places to perpetrate crimes. He further discloses that the police are making frantic efforts to bring crime rates down to the barest minimum in the area.