By Lawrence Audu

Traders' wares destroyed by AEPB taskforce officials
Traders’ wares destroyed by AEPB taskforce officials

Every developing city of the world has a responsibility of not just implementing policies that engender development for its citizenry but also maintain environmental standards but this is not the case with the Federal Capital Development Authority FCTA, as it seems to be chasing shadows instead.

There is hardly a resident of Abuja, the Federal Capital who has not noticed times without number the way and manner members of the Ministerial Joint Task Force set up to arrest street hawkers and traders harass poor citizens going about their legitimate businesses.

The idea of enforcing orderliness for the good of any city is laudable and must be commended by all. But a situation where that infringes on the fundamental rights of citizens especially those who by no fault of theirs are poor yet go out to make ends meet for themselves and family must be condemned.

This task force which is made up of a detachment of the police and other security agencies still employ the services of touts who mostly chase after hawkers to confiscate their wares and most of these items are shared by members of the task force while extorting money from their victims.

Scene from a violent protest after AEPB taskforce officials brutally assaulted taxi drivers in Wuse
Scene from a violent protest after AEPB taskforce officials brutally assaulted taxi drivers in Wuse

Cases of brutalization abound and how trigger happy members of the task team shoots sporadically into the air most times during operations.

Aside from this, many have been inflicted with various degrees of injuries in the process of trying to run while many cases have been recorded of some falling of bridges or been knocked down by cars and dying.

Tales of the notoriety of this task force dates far back as 2015 when a trigger happy naval rating in the convoy of the task force shot and killed a young woman who was said to be just a month to her wedding in Kado estate.

There are numerous and pathetically graphical accounts of innocent Nigerians who have lost their lives at the hands of this notorious gang, pregnant women have miscarried as a result of manhandling from them while they brutalize car owners, road workers as well as independent and corporate journalists and so on.

Unfortunately, the men deployed to execute these tasks are as poor as their victims whose wives and siblings probably engage in the same venture against which they are assigned to enforce.

Countless protests have been held to draw the authorities’ attention to the activities of this group who seem to be going in the operational direction of the Police Special Anti Robbery Squad SARS, but nothing has been done probably because no member of the high class in the society has been affected.

Herdsmen have continued to roam freely in the City centre with their herds despite the presence of the AEPB taskforce officials
Herdsmen have continued to roam freely in the City centre with their herds despite the presence of the AEPB taskforce officials

The focus of the ministerial task force should be on the countless number of cows still roaming the streets constituting more nuisance to motorists, and the large army of healthy looking beggars who have taken over most traffic spots within the FCT and not on innocent people who are out just to earn a living for themselves.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting up task forces to enforce law and order in the society but it is also imperative to put in place measures to cushion the effect by providing cheaper and alternative solutions while upholding the rights of the citizenry and put a stop this senseless brutality and unjust treatment.