Femi Ogbonnikan examines the latest policing measures being put in place by the new Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Imohinmi Edgal
Distraught by the recent upsurge in violent crimes, such as armed robbery, kidnapping, pipeline vandalism and most especially a notorious criminal gang tagged ‘badoo’ in Ikorodu town and its environs which infested the sleepy communities like a monster, Mr. Imohinmi Oluwole Edgal, the new Lagos State Commissioner of Police, in no time on Thursday, September 7, 2017, embarked on a working visit to Area ‘N’ Command headquarters, Ijede, which oversees the troubled areas, comprising Ikorodu, Igbogbo, Ibeshe, Imota, Ipakodo, and other adjoining communities. At Ikorodu, the meetings were drawn in three categories, with the first parley taking place at the palace of the Ayangburen of Ikorodu where the CP held a closed door meeting with Ikorodu traditional rulers under the able leadership of the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotobi, before a stakeholders’ meeting which was well attended by local vigilante groups made up of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Onyabo, Lagos State Neighbourhood Security Corps (LSNSC), members of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), artisans, market women and men, police officers and men under Area N Command and other various interest groups where he reeled out his programmes of policing the entire state, particularly Ikorodu which has in recent past fallen under the jugular of the badoo cult group. While the badoo group was on the prowl, no fewer than 85 people, including little children have fallen prey of the criminal activities of the group.
In his welcome address, the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Shotobi, eulogised the courage, commitment and determination of the new CP who when he was then, the Lagos State Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in-charge of ‘Operations’ led his officers and men to launch a manhunt, day and night, in collaboration with the operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS), Army, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), members of the OPC led by Otunba Gani Adams, for the perpetrators behind the dastardly act of wanton killings for money-making rituals in Ikorodu and its environs. Besides, Oba Shotobi enjoined Edgal, the 34th Lagos State CP, to carry on from where he stopped when he was DCP to cleanse the entire affected communities in the wake of badoo attacks and bring the culprits to justice. The monarch, however, pledged the total support and commitment of the Ikorodu Traditional Rulers Council to the new Lagos State Police Commissioner towards achieving success in the fight against criminal elements operating within the sleepy communities which fall under the defunct Ikorodu Division.
Determined at ensuring the perpetrators of the recent heinous badoo killers donâ€™t go unpunished, Edgal, in his response, vowed to follow the matter to a logical end with the arrest of the alleged arrow-head of the group, in the person of Alhaji Ademola Alaka (alias Otukoko) who has gone underground.
The CP reiterated his determination that he would send alleged ritualist, Alhaji Alaka Abayomi, to jail for operating the shrine that was uncovered at Agbowa, Ikorodu, sometime in July..
Warning that there was no hiding place for criminals at Ikorodu, the police commissioner said those who leave their domain to establish ritual and fraudulent shrines in the district would meet their doom.
â€œA situation where strangers would come and set up shrines for the purpose of rituals and fraudulent activities are over. It took a lot of hard work to penetrate Agbowa shrine. It was a spiritual problem. At the moment, forensic experts are carrying out investigations into the criminal aspects of the shrine.
“I decided to open its existence to the world so that nobody would be able to kill the case. I would have gone there quietly if I wanted to cover it. A lot of entreaties have been made and some stupid people have attempted to offer me money.
â€œThey do not know my background, if they did, they wonâ€™t do that. I will send that man to jail,â€ said Edgal.
A day afterwards, precisely on Friday, September 8, 2017, the working visit shifted to Area ‘G’ Command headquarters, Ogba, where the CP addressed officers and men and other security stakeholders on the need to collaborate in crime fighting.
However, at Area A Command headquarters, Lion Building, Lagos Island, on Thursday, September 14, 2017, at a well attended stakeholders’ meeting which attracted PCRC members, market women and men, members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), notable sons and daughters of Lagos Island, including Mrs. Wonu Folami, ex-Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, among others, held at Club Arcade, TBS, Lagos, expressed his overwhelming appreciation for the support he got when he was commander, Area A Command, which ensured his success when he was in saddle. He, therefore, sought for their renewed cooperation and support in the task of policing Lagos State as a whole.
“In policing Lagos State, I want to seek for your approval and input. The aim is not far-fetched but to reduce crime and criminality in Lagos State within three months. The aim is driven by community policing and safety. We are departing from the old traditional policing method which is no longer effective. U.S., Russia, Germany, UK and other advanced countries have evolved a new policing strategy to combat youth restiveness, unrest, disturbance, law and order. Community policing means policing plan for any locality and community must have community input, for people to determine how police would police them. But if people do not partner the police to achieve effective goals, officers and men must go out, reach out and find out what the relevant groups within a community want to have peace.
“Security problems in Lagos State, relating to violent crimes, such as youth restiveness, cultism, disobedience to rule of law and others, I want to tell you, the police don’t have the manpower and spread to take care of these problems until we partner together to solve these problems. We must consult widely with the people and seek solutions to these challenges. You are to partner with the people with trust in order to earn their respect. Why have the police lost the respect of the people? The answer is, the problems are with the police. And these are in the areas of corruption, abuse of fundamental human rights of the people, brutality, illegal detention and many others. In my present dispensation, it is not going to be business as usual. Henceforth, all matters relating to indiscipline would be investigated and reports made public. Thus, the step is key in building needed synergy and fashioning plans at working,” said the new CP.
Besides, the new CP stated that the command is ready to engage members of the Neighbourhood Watch at nights for effective patrol. He said the Neighbourhood Watch operatives would not bear firearms because they are not permitted by law to carry guns while they would patrol with armed policemen at nights for effective operations. He said three armed policemen would be attached to a team of Neighbourhood Watch.
“I had a few days ago while addressing officers at POWA Secretariat, GRA, Ikeja, directed Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to reach out to traditional rulers, PCRC members, leaders of thought and others on how they would assist them in setting up vigilante groups within their respective communities. Members of the Neighbourhood Watch to be recruited for the night operations would be screened by the traditional rulers, and their names forwarded to their respective Area Commanders who would have obtained their biometrics for final screening. So, policing would be strictly based on partnership without carrying firearms.
“I have come to seek your support and cooperation. Lagos is a melting point of all nationals. The migration is rising astronomically and we have to be vigilant. We must not allow anybody to smuggle in illegal weapons into the state. If you see something, say something. The key to policing Lagos State is vigilance. All police patrol vans are mini-stations now. There is no need going to police stations. Failure on the part of any police officer or men to attend to the complaints of the members of the public will attract sanction,” Edgal said.
He, however, gave out 10 mobile numbers for complaints against erring officers and men in the conduct of their duties and which are to be processed in English and the official three local dialects (Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa).
The 10 numbers are; 08067945296, 08063025274, 08063104759, 08113615350, 08113683077, 08096283148, 08096283173, 08089781657, 08126404930 and 08081426895.
Meanwhile, the CP disclosed that the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has donated 109 generating sets to light up all the police stations in the state and thousands of torchlights for effective night patrols.
According to Edgal, the era of darkness being experienced in police stations in Lagos State is over, and said the State Command would soon join the command in launching a “light up projectâ€.