Tackling Crime through Technology: The Lagos Example


Ademola Joseph

On October 20, 2017, an unfortunate incident occurred on the iconic cable stay 1.346km Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge in Lagos when a 40-year-old man simply identified as Adekunle Oluseyi jumped into the lagoon from the bridge in an obvious suicide mission. The man, who is now late, got on the bridge at about 10am on that fateful day and took off his clothes, phone, wristwatch, wallet, band and shoes before jumping into the water. Part of the items in the wallet included Oluseyi’s two Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards which had no cash inside.

Many wondered what could have made Oluseyi to decide to end his life but in all of that, one instructive development happened and that was the confirmation by the Lagos Tolling Company (LTC), the operator of the bridge, that the last moment of the deceased was captured by the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras installed on the bridge.

As a matter of fact, it was when the officials of the LTC realised the development through the CCTV footage that they alerted emergency workers and within minutes, officers of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and the Marine Police emerged on the scene and activated rescue operation. Though the victim was found dead after two days precisely on Sunday morning, the fact however remained that the rescue operation was carried out with state of the art equipment deployed to the scene by LASWA, LASEMA and Marine Police. The Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos Police Command was also on ground with personnel and equipment to support with the rescue operation.

Few days before that unfortunate incident, Umueke Tagbo, the friend of music star, David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, had died in a mysterious and controversial circumstance to the point that the development led to back-and-forth on what actually led to his death.

But through CCTV footages, the lid was blown open and the Lagos State Police Command was able to confirm that it was through the escort car of Davido that the said Tagbo was brought to the premises of the Lagos General Hospital.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, Mr Imohimi Edgal, while briefing journalists on the investigation had revealed how the CCTV footage confirmed the involvement of some people in the whole saga.

The CP had said: “I called for a pre-investigation meeting in my conference room. In attendance were all parties including family, friends of the deceased; those of Davido; Caroline Danjuma; the DPO and investigating officers. The meeting confirmed that the deceased Tagbo Umueke on that day met and had drinks with friends at Shisha Bar amongst whom was Davido.

“The bar tender confirmed the deceased had as much as 40 shots of Tequila and exhibited signs of drunkenness. The CCTV footage also confirmed this. Davido had told the police he had left Shisha Bar for DNA Night Club in Victoria Island without the deceased and was only informed by mutual friends of his death while he was at DNA.
“However, investigation revealed that Davido’s white Toyota Hilux escort driver, Tunde Usutu, accompanied by one Agbeje Olaoye and one Idris Busari, both Davido’s friends, took the deceased to the General Hospital, Lagos and abandoned him in his vehicle.

“The CCTV footage at the hospital picked the escort vehicle and the entire activity. The vehicle was recovered from Davido’s residence at 7, Awoshika Street, Lekki Phase 1,” the CP explained.

Aside the issue of the CCTV, another matter which the episode brought to the fore was the fact that the deceased was exposed to too much alcohol, and the rate at which youths are now having access to excessive alcohol and even hard drugs was alarming and pose imminent and great danger to the security of the state.

Speaking recently at the quarterly town hall meeting organised by his administration, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State urged traditional rulers, community leaders and parents to rein in their children, wards and subjects not to give to drug abuse and other forms of crime, saying that the call even became necessary in view of the fact that the last four months of the year had set in.

“We are in October and we are going to December, naturally, when it gets to the ember months, somehow traditionally, crime rate goes up but in the last two years, we have been able to reduce crime rate when it is coming to December.

“I want to appeal to all our traditional rulers and other community leaders; there is a need for us to support the Neighborhood Safety Corps. Also, our volunteers and the people should now be more vigilant and then cooperate with our security agencies to maintain law and order. I want to reduce the crime rate to the barest minimum and I know that we are going to engage a lot of our youths in end of the year activities to make sure that peace continues to reign in Lagos,” the governor said.

Similarly, in a recent meeting with stakeholders in the hospitality industry in the state, the CP (Edgal) specifically told the operators of night clubs, beaches, hotels, bars, lounges, among others that it was now compulsory for them to henceforth put internal security measures in place such as CCTV and other gadgets to discourage drug abuse, drug peddling and other criminal activities in their establishments in the overall best interest of their businesses and security of the state.

According to the CP, intelligence report indicated that there was increase in drug abuse among youths and minors, and that such was dangerous to efforts of the State Government to promote the night economy of the state.
He said through the efforts of the state governor, the police and other security agencies have been hugely funded, aside the fact that there had been many initiatives and programmes geared toward ensuring a 24-hour economy for the state.

He said despite the successes recorded in recent time, there were grey areas which must be jointly tackled by both police and operators in line with the principle of community policing and security partnership.
He said: “One of such areas is the issue of drug peddling, drug use and abuse. Intelligence report at my disposal reveals that there is increased drug peddling and drug abuse in most of our night clubs, lounges, beaches and so on across the state. Young men and women freely use narcotic substances at times in the seating areas, at times more hidden in the toilet areas of our clubs, lounges, hotels to the knowledge of the operators but they are doing nothing about it. This is wrong.

“The scourge of drugs and its attendant effect not only health wise on the young population but also that sheer fact that there is a very clear correlation between drug and crime is something that should make every responsible Lagosian to be worried. The ease with which our youths are getting access to drugs at clubs, lounges, beaches and so on is worrisome and our meeting here today is to send a very strong signal to operators that it is not going to be business as usual,” Edgal said.

The CP said it had also been observed that some hotels in the state now give rooms to minors and also sell alcoholic drinks to them, while under-aged girls were also being allowed to use such establishments for prostitution, saying that such was very criminal and capable of leading to crimes.

Hear him, “In addition, we also have the issue of criminals hibernating and having save haven in all our beaches, hotels, clubs, lounges these days. The last intelligence report I received indicates that young men now move around these establishments armed. This is very dangerous for the security of the state. We have it on good authority that some of these establishments are used as meeting points to plan crimes before they execute,” Edgal said.
He said in as much as the police have the capacity to arrest any operator found aiding such, but that he was engaging the stakeholders in line with the principle of community policing and security partnership to tackle the menace frontally, while any operator found culpable would henceforth be arrested, shamed and prosecuted in accordance with the law.

Going forward, the CP said it was compulsory for operators to now install basic security gadgets such as CCTV cameras and metal box detectors, among others to effectively cover their establishments.
Also, in an interview, RRS Commander, ACP Olatunji Disu said through the Mobile CCTV vans, helicopters and drones, among other equipment procured for police in the state by Governor Ambode’s administration, many crimes have been unraveled, while others were prevented with critical arrests made.

For instance, Disu said the decoy team of RRS was able to recover six vehicles in Enugu stolen from Lagos at gunpoint and arrested ten suspects with other suspects coordinating their operation from prison using technology.
Giving details, Disu said: “The Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, recently bought for us three CCTV vans and they have been put in different locations in Lagos. On about two or three occasions, it has assisted us in picking robbers robbing on the road. We sit in the van and see what is happening in the environment; we look on the roads and see whether there are congestion especially the bus stops; we see things happening and the policemen with them will quickly rush to the crime scene and effect arrest.

“Not only that, we use the CCTV vans to re-plan our security strategies. Everywhere we place them, we monitor the policemen in the crowd as well if they are doing well or not because at the end of the day, we come back to watch every day’s activities thereby making the men more professional knowing that we are watching them as well. So, they are putting in more effort to catching these suspects we are looking for.”

Disu said aside preventing crime and effecting arrest, the CCTV vans have also been deployed to accident and riot scenes to assist rescue operation, and also serve as mechanism to review activities of the emergency responders with the view to improving on areas where there are lapses.

He said: “Every riot scene, we deploy CCTV vans and we are able to catch the mob when they attack the police or when the police officers misbehave, we see it. So, apart from catching thieves, we have been able to use the CCTV vans for various other activities.

“Like the last accident that happened under the Third Mainland Bridge where a ferry with about 21 passengers fell into the waters; we brought in helicopter, we deployed drones as well to search for the victims on the waters. And again, we have used drone to monitor traffic. We stay far off, the drone goes and discover the bottleneck for us and through that we are able to know where the high traffic is and know where to deploy our men or we find out if the traffic is caused by accident and what is happening on the road.”

“Thieves have been arrested using the CCTV vans; the vans have helped in preventive activities because one or two of them have been able to identify the CCTV vans and because of that, they move far off and that is the preventive aspect of it. They know policemen are monitoring them and the good thing is that they are now seeing almost all our vehicles as CCTV vans so they move away whenever they see us.

“Recently, we moved out with the CCTV van to Ladipo area of the town this time around, we went as a decoy and we only had the riders with the team. We gave them unusual setting and so they don’t know we were there monitoring. Eventually, we saw this particular vehicle and people on the bike had passed. Through the CCTV, we noticed them, we went after them and then one AK47 riffle was recovered from them. Although, they escaped, but they abandoned the riffle and with that, we were able to prevent them from committing crime which could have led to killing of people or houses and vehicles robbed,” Disu said.

The police chief advised criminal elements to relocate from Lagos if they are unwilling to stay off crime, as the government was determined to eradicate crime or reduce it to a barest minimum in the state.

“The message here is that criminals should move out of Lagos. If they are not going to stop criminal activities, they better move out because the governor of Lagos State and the commissioner of police, Lagos State are determined to wipe out crimes in Lagos or bring it down to the barest minimum if it cannot be eradicated completely. For example, for every crime committed in Lagos, we have vowed to unravel it to get anybody behind it. You cannot commit a crime in Lagos and run to other states in Nigeria, we will come after you and that we have demonstrated so many times,” Disu said.

––––Joseph, a journalist, writes from Ibeju Lekki.