It is no longer news that the modern crime-fighting equipment donated to the Lagos State Police Command by the stateâ€™s government to tackle the current sophistry in violent crimes have begun to yield maximum results. Residents can now sleep with their two eyes closed. Femi Ogbonnikan, in this piece, takes a close look at the paradigm shift as evidenced in the concept of community policing being propagated by the current Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal in his drives to tackle crimes headlong, with the aid of the new logistics and other gadgetsÂ
W ith a population conservatively put at 21 million, Lagos State is the fifth largest economy in Africa, and with a projection to assume the third status of the largest economy by year 2023, going by the determination and commitment of the Ambode administration.
Reiterating the importance of security of the lives and property of the residents at a recent inaugural security summit, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said there was a need for a concept of collective vigilance to be put in place, â€œwhereby, all stakeholders in security management would have properly defined roles and relationships to stay ahead of all form of violent crimes such as terrorism, cyber and transnational organized crimes, among others.â€
He said the concept had become imperative in view of the vulnerability of the state to various security threats due to continuous influx of foreigners and people from other parts of the country into Lagos on a daily basis.
Ambode, who was represented by the Chairman of the State Security Trust Fund, Mr Oye Hassan-Odukale,Â said since assumption of office, his administration had been consistently implementing its cardinal programmes built on the tripod of security, infrastructural development and poverty alleviation through employment generation, adding that it was gratifying that the policy had been yielding positive fruits.
â€œOur human security focus has not only shaped our security architecture which is safety and civilian-driven, from the primary to tertiary levels, but also guided our choice of infrastructural development projects and directly improves the life of Lagosians.
â€œA further analysis of our efforts indicates that less time is now spent in traffic by motorists based on our transport sector reforms, better roads to increase the lifespan of vehicles, affordable housing programs, functional health care and education services, as well as employment generation value chain, have all enhanced the well-being of Lagosians. These efforts have indeed reduced all shades of criminalities in the Stateâ€.
In response to the immediate needs, the governor, on Friday, November 27, 2015, and in demonstration of his commitment to the security of lives and property, inaugurated and handed over security equipment valued at N4.765 billion to the Lagos State Police Command for effective policing of the state.
In a bid to motivate the personnel, aside the extra allowance security officials receive in the state, Ambode went a step further as he instituted a N10 million insurance scheme, the first of its kind in Nigeria for any officer that dies in the line of duty.
â€œWith a safer Lagos, we would continue to attract bigger commerce and more local and foreign investments. This would create more job opportunities for our people and generate more taxes for the government to improve on the infrastructure in various sectors.
Consequently, Lagos State Police Command has had its operations significantly driven by this right technology and equipment and it is able to match the emerging sophistication of crimes in the contemporary time.
As a step further, between October and November last year, while underscoring the importance of security for a peaceful co-existence among various ethnic nationalities and in promoting and attracting investors in a crime-free state, the governor donated additional new 30 power bikes to aid effective patrol of all nooks and crannies and as well as 110 generating sets to light up all police stations spread across the state.
Thus, in appreciation of the enormous resources, running into several billions of naira, that the State Government through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) had injected into the provision of logistics for adequate security, the Lagos police are living up to expectations in their statutory duties.
Unlike in the past when dare-devil armed robbers always exploited the hitherto, porous coastal waters and land borders to unleash mayhem on banks and Bureau De Change operators in Lagos, the acquisition of modern crime-fighting equipment has sent a warning signal to would-be criminal elements to have a rethink of their criminal proclivity.
Specifically, in the last six months, there has been a further decline in crime rates in the state, courtesy of proactive measures already being put in place by the present leadership of the police hierarchy.
Upon his assumption of office in September 2017, Edgal, who is familiar with the cosmopolitan terrain, having worked in various capacities in Lagos, has dealt with pockets of crimes headlong.
Greeted with the most disturbing, was the issue of a faceless criminal gang, â€œBadooâ€, which had wreaked havocs in Ikorodu and its environs and claimed no fewer than 100 lives, an unsavoury situation, which his predecessor in office was unable to resolve before vacating the seat.
Ikorodu noted for its notoriety as havens for oil bunkerers, militants, ritualists, kidnappers and armed robbers, owing to its fast developing economic and commercial activities and proximity to the creeks and land borders with neighbouring Ogun State towns and villages, Edgalâ€™s first approach in office was on how to put a total halt to the wanton killings by the suspected â€œBadooâ€ kingpins.
The CP went back to the drawing board and engaged in community policing by enlisting the active support and collaboration of traditional institutions in the affected communities. Not left out, members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) led by Otunba Gani Adams, sister security agencies drawn from the Army, Navy, Department of State Service (DSS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and men of the local vigilante groups like â€œOnyaboâ€ contributed immensely to bring an end to the gruesome murders.
Sparing no rod and poised to bring the masterminds and perpetrators behind the killings, the CP, on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, mobilised a combined team of armed policemen, ably led by the CP personally, invaded a shrine located in Imosan, a suburb of Ijebu Ode, Ogun State where the suspected killers often take oath before embarking on their prowl.
A suspected herbalist identified as Fatai Adebayo (aka Alese) was arrested and his shrine was demolished.
Alese, 34 years old, was allegedly fingered as the herbalist who usually administered oaths on members of the â€œBadooâ€ group before launching any attack.
In a further move, the police hierarchy declared wanted the suspected kingpin of the group, Alaka Kamal, a popular independent oil marketer. Following the arrest of Alese, the herbalist, sanity has returned to the affected communities and residents can now sleep with their two eyes closed.
With the arrest of the egg-head, many people believe respite seems to be on the way of the Ikorodu residents and its environs who have for long been adorned in the garb of the fear of the unknown.
While reminiscing at the security summit, Edgal said it was also gratifying to report that in view of the massive assistance extended to security forces by the State Government through consistent donation and funding of security equipment, crime rate has now been on the consistent decline in the State.
Edgal, who gave an overview of crime statistics in the State, said from 2014 till date, a total of 1,315 armed robbery attacks, 359 cult-related cases and 392 kidnapping cases were recorded, with several arrests made and prosecutions ongoing. Based on the community policing and security partnership he has put in place, upon assumption of office as CP, all militants groups hitherto operating in the state have been degraded and incapacitated from carrying out attacks.
â€œIn comparison, when I became Commissioner of Police, Lagos State in September last year, I introduced my own policing plan powered by the strategy and philosophy of community policing and community safety partnership.
â€œPolicing like we all know is more about strategy and technology, but there are other factors that come to play such as logistics and all that but when there is a clear-cut strategy backed with the right technology, then, the war against crime would be won.
â€œWe have leveraged on the robust goodwill existing between the police and the government on one hand, and members of the public on the other hand, to record some modest achievements that have not only consolidated on the achievements of my predecessor and also ensured that the Command keep the flag flying,â€ the CP said.
Besides, Edgal called for a legislation to compel all businesses to install CCTV cameras within their premises and an advocacy for deepening intelligence-led policing, involvement of traditional leaders in security architecture and investment in training and retraining of security personnel to bring about efficiency.
Next, the unwholesome activities of cult groups in some communities have called for great concerns. With not less than 700 cultists who are either members of Eiye Confraternity, Black Axe (popularly called Aye), Buccaneer and several others drawn from Ikorodu, Badagry, Mushin and other parts of the state have publicly renounced their memberships.
During the public renunciation exercise witnessed by respective local government chairmen, traditional rulers, heads of security agencies and community leaders, different calibres of weapons of destruction ranging from AK-47 rifles, Pump Action Rifles (PARs), several locally made pistols, axes, jack knives cutlasses and assorted charms were surrendered by the cultists to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal.
No sooner had the public renunciation taken place than the fight was taken to the doorsteps of transport workers union with the recent arrest of a notorious hired assassin, Adeola Williams (aka Ade Lawyer) who pulled the trigger that snuffed life out of the Personal Assistant (PA), Ganiyu Ayinla (Pinero), to the Idumota unit, Lagos Island of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Azeez Adekunle, on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Ade Lawyerâ€™s alleged sponsor, Akanni Olohunwa, was nabbed and was subsequently paraded before newsmen at the command headquarters by the CP himself.