By Philip Yatai
The newly-inaugurated Operation Sweep in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has arrested 400 persons and impounded 50 vehicles for various offences.
The Commander, Chief Superintendent of Police, Umar Kadiri, made this known while briefing journalists in Abuja on Monday, during an operation to destroy illegal structures and dislodge illegal traders selling items on the street.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the operation also dislodged illegal motor parks, removed illegal structures on the streets, demolished scavengers’ shanties and set them ablaze.
The operation took at Utako Ultra-Modern Market and down through A.E Ekukinam Street to Jabi Motor Park and environs, among other locations, to keep Abuja city clean.
Kadiri said that the 50 impounded vehicles and the 400 people were arrested between Friday and Monday, adding that some of the offenders have been prosecuted.
He explained that the operation was part of efforts to strengthen environmental sanitation in the FCT by clearing hawkers, demolishing illegal structures, unauthorised car parks, and activities of scavengers.
“We have impounded not less than 50 vehicles from Friday to date and arrested not less than 400 people. Some were prosecuted and others will be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
“The clearing of illegal traders by the roadside around the markets became necessary because they were constituting obstacles to the free flow of traffic and defacing the city.
“Beyond keeping the city clean, clearing them would also ensure a free floor of traffic on Abuja streets, including market areas where traders and their illegal strictures have taken over the roads.
“Most of these traders were associating themselves with scavengers who are allegedly stealing people’s valuables in the name of scavenging,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Kaka Bello, Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), said that the operation was part of ongoing exercise to Keep Abuja clean.
Bello said that Mr Nyesom Wike, the Minister of the FCT, had recently inaugurated the Operation Sweep FCT to ensure effective sanitation in the Federal capital city.
“As you can see, we are here with different security agencies to provide the needed support for a hitch-free exercise.
“We have been here several times, but the illegal traders and scavengers return after some time to continue their illegal activity,” he said.
He advised owners of properties in Abuja to take over their properties and develop them to prevent miscreants from using undeveloped areas for illegal and criminal activities.
NAN reports that operation sweep FCT is made up of the representative of the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Immigration, Nigeria Security and Civil Défense Corps, and Department of State Services.
Others are the Nigerian Army, Navy, and the Airforce, as well as the Federal Road Safety Corps and AEPB.
One of the affected scavengers, Mr Mohammed Sani, whose shanty was destroyed around Jabi Motor Park, confirmed that they had been vacated from the area a long time ago but returned.
“I know that we have been warned to leave the place, but we are just trying to survive,” he said.
Also, a resident, Ismail Haruna, commended the government for clearing the streets to restore sanity on Abuja streets.
He lamented that illegal traders have taken over major streets, built illegal structures for selling all kinds of items, including drugs.
“I am very happy that the FCT administration has taken steps to keep our city clean,” he said. (NAN)
Edited by Vincent Obi