For Haruna Idris, a 21-year-old man who fled the Islamist insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast for the relative safety of the capital, Abuja, the only way to make a living is to sell on the streets. Yet, while hawking windscreen wipers on the highways around Abuja’s Area One district, he’s keenly aware of the essence of maintaining vigilance for the sudden appearance of officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board’s task force. Comprising policemen, members of the civil defence force and others who bear the appearance of thugs, their modus operandi is to swoop on hawkers, destroy their wares, beat and haul those they can grab into detention.
“It’s our daily reality and we’re always on the lookout and ready to flee once the task force people appear,” Idris said in a recent interview. “But we’re not always lucky.”
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