Scavengers, also known as ‘babanbola’ in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and other major cities around the country, are causing significant worry.
Several illegal actions, including theft, assault, kidnapping, and even vandalism of government property, have recently been linked to the operations of the Bola boys, who continue to scour entire streets for scrap metals.
Following reports of vital infrastructure theft and destruction in the FCT, numerous residents and organizations have asked security officials to put an end to the problem.
In an effort to curb the heinous trend in Abuja and its neighboring states, the FCT Police Command had barred bola boys from the nation’s capital on April 11, 2022, vowing to deport them to their home states.
However, the unscrupulous elements sowing chaos in the city have violated the command’s prohibition, wreaking mayhem in nearly all regions of the nation’s capital.
Mrs. Joy Ateh, a city resident, told our correspondent in Bwari Area Council on Saturday how she was robbed by a ‘babanbola’ at midnight.
Mrs. Ateh claimed that “on the 5th of April 2023, they jumped over my fence and entered my poultry farm where they stole eggs.”
“Before that night, three of them came to my gate and yelled ‘iron condemned’; we had a gas cylinder, a pressing iron, a fan, and other items to sell to them.”
“My 15-year-old daughter came out and called them into my compound; I wasn’t even at home; otherwise, I would not have allowed such people in.”
“Three days later, at around 2 a.m., the boys jumped over my fence, went straight to the farm, and carted away eggs, a motorcycle parked outside, and other valuables.”
Another neighbor, Adeboye Olumide, stated that criminal elements typically commit their crimes at midday, when residents are still on their way home from work.
“I made the decision to leave Lugbe because of those boys.” We lived near Akara crossroads, and after the vehicle wash, there was seldom a day when individuals did not lose their possessions to those ‘babanbola’ youngsters. They are robbers.
“You must not forget anything outside, or it will no longer be yours.” If you wash your clothing in that location, you must remain outdoors to watch them dry. They don’t commit a single offense.
“The problem is that when you confront them, they go and reinforce and return in large numbers.” They are capable of doing anything and getting away with it. They don’t even have a place to live, so how can you arrest them? They would perpetrate crimes in Lugbe before moving on to Gwagwalada. “They’re just very dangerous because they don’t have an identity or a place to live,” he bemoaned.
Some rape instances, particularly those involving kids, have also been linked to scavengers.
A recent story stated that scrap metal collectors allegedly carried away a $4 million cash haul stashed at a government official’s apartment.
We recall that on July 20, 2023, the Commissioner of Police in charge of the FCT Command, CP Haruna Garba, announced that over 200 scavengers were detained from various parts of the city during June and July.
Garba stated during a meeting with Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 7, Adebowale Williams, that those arrested were damaging important assets in the FCT.
“In the last two months, the Command has clamped down on the activities of scavengers, also known as ‘Babanbolas,’ whose habit is to destroy critical infrastructures in the FCT,” he stated.
“Their activities have become a source of concern and threat to the FCT’s residents.” They were responsible for the theft and destruction of crucial infrastructure in the FCT. 212 scavengers have been apprehended and arraigned in court in the last two months.”
The police prosecuted two of the scavengers, Hussani Salisu and Musa Shaibu, before a Kabusa Grade l Area Court on Friday for allegedly breaking into a business and stealing things worth N164,000.
The defendants, who both live in Abuja’s Kabusa community, are facing a three-count accusation of criminal conspiracy, housebreaking, and stealing.
They, on the other hand, pleaded not guilty to the accusations.
The matter was delayed till Aug. 6 for hearing by Judge Abubakar Sadiq, who granted the defendants bail in the sum of N50,000 apiece, with one surety in the same sum.
Kenneth Ugara, a security expert, told DAILY POST on Saturday that the scavengers’ actions, if not restricted, might lead to a significant security crisis in the country.
According to him, some terrorists and bandits may have disguised themselves as scavengers in order to conduct horrible crimes.
“It is actually a serious matter because most suicide bombers disguise in that manner, they will be pushing their trucks as if they are scavengers but they have other motives,” he stated.
“Some of them are spies sent to monitor events or gather information in advance of attacks or other criminal activities.”
“Recall that about two years ago, some shoemakers were arrested in some areas and confessed to being Boko Haram members.” While we trust security services to do their duties, we must also be attentive and report any security breaches that occur.”
In terms of potential remedies, Mr Kenneth stated, “It still comes down to the need for state police.” Only community policing can put an end to crimes like this.
“We’ve said it time and time again. When the government permits state police, certain illegal activities, including banditry, will come to a stop.”
When DAILY POST called the FCT Police Public Relations Officer, SP Josephine Adeh, she confirmed that several of the scavengers had been detained and charged.
When asked what other steps the command is doing to combat the threat, the PPRO merely stated, “For now, we are only arresting and charging them in court.”