LAGOS SECURITY: As Ambode squares up to security challenge | Independent Newspapers Limited
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LAGOS SECURITY: As Ambode squares up to security challenge

Posted: Dec 10, 2015 at 12:59 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ayo Oyoze Baje

Of all the bold developmental statements made so far by the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration in Lagos state the one on reinforcing security of the citizenry stands out. So far, efforts to frontally confront the menace of sundry crimes in the state, such asdare-devil armed robberies of banks and of commuters along the busy streets (amidst grinding traffic gridlock), cult clashes,sexual violence and human trafficking have been brilliant, broad-based and more importantly, proactive.

For instance, weeks after he took over the mantle of political leadership genuine move was made to identify the hide outs of miscreants and flush them out of the Centre of Excellence. This has been sustained thus far, with periodic raids by the police in areas such as Oshodi, Mushin, Berger to secure the lives and property of residents in those troubled areas.

And to strengthen that resolve the government recently donated state-of-the-art security gadgets and facilities to the Lagos Rapid Response Squad command. These included three helicopters, 100 4-door saloon cars, 55 Ford Ranger pick-up vans, 10 Toyota Land Cruiser pick-ups and 15  BMW power bikes. Others were 100   power bikes, 60 Isuzu trucks, two gun-boats, 15 armored personnel carriers,  revolving light sirens and public address system. To boost their performance  related facilities such as vehicular radio communication gadgets, security gadgets with bullet proof vests, helmets, hand-curves were also provided.  Finally, there is an improved death insurance scheme put in place for the security personnel. All were handed over at the historic ceremony as the new red and blue logo of the agency was unveiled to the public. This falls in tandem with Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution which states that the primary purpose of government is to guarantee the security and ensure the welfare of the citizenry.


It would be recalled that with the persistence of the Boko Haram insurgency up north and the scourge of youth unemployment which the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently put as affecting 1,929,800 economically active Nigerians in the age bracket of between 15 and 64 years, the rate of influx of people into Lagos state has escalated. Such unprecedented population explosion comes with an upsurge in the wave of crimes. According to media reports it is estimated that over 10 million commuters are exposed to traffic robbers on daily basis. In fact, not too long ago some robbers decided to unleash mayhem on motorists along Onikan/Awolowo Road area of Ikoyi soon after the governor had gone to inspect the traffic situation there. What effrontery!

The danger posed to the residents apart, the huge economic loss to the state is humongous. According to the Economic Intelligence Unit of the State’s Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget about $1 billion(dollars) or N160 bn is lost yearly to traffic congestion. This was arrived at by a conservative population of residents put at 17 million and a collective loss of 3 billion man hours every year.

Similarly worrisome is that of increasing sexual offences. According to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr.FataiOwoseni incidents of rape, child abuse and defilement account for the most reported crimes across the state. In spite of the praise worthy Lagos Domestic and Sexual Response Team established in September of 2014 reports claim there is an increase of such abuses. The recent statement credited to the Manager of the MirabelCentre of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Mrs. Juliet Olumuyiwa-Rufai that the Centre has treated as many as 997 rape victims over the past two years calls for concern.That has informed the position of the state governor, AkinwunmiAmbode that these violations can only be curbed if they are reported.

Such disclosures are needed when it comes to violent cult activities. But not much is done by the public in that direction for fear of backlash from the perpetrators of pure evil. When for instance, clashes between members of Eye and Aiye broke to the fore at the hitherto peaceful Ajosegbemi in the Somolu LGA of the state, the Chairman of the Community Development Association,TunjiAwokoya stated that people were afraid to identify them because they worked for some unscrupulous politicians. That remains an increasing but needless challenge for the current administration to tackle.

Yet, another area of social concern is that of human trafficking with Lagos as a transit point. According to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2, BalaHassan the arrest of two suspects along with their victims-16 Togolese and two Ghanaians- in early November, 2015 has revealed the route for their nefarious trade. One of the suspects, 41-year-old Godwin Samuel confessed that he, along with a Ghanaian named KwaKwa transport their victims from some West African countries through Togo, Seme border to Mazamaza and Mile 2 Area. There they hand them over to one Baba Ibeji, en route to AkwaIbom state. From there the victims are ferried to Gabon to work either as prostitutes or domestic slaves.

This trans-border crime is not too dissimilar to that adapted by illicit drug dealers. The phenomenon of importing hard drugs through Nigerian borders has also increased, a sad situation which the NDLEA has described as ‘worrisome’. There is still much to be done. As Solomon Adeola, the senator representing Lagos-West Senatorial District has observed the crime rate is likely to increase due the mega-city status. It is therefore, crystal clear that a holistic approach has to be adopted to drastically reduce the frequent occurrence of these crimes to make Lagos state a safe haven for both local and international investors. In this regard, more hands have to be recruited into the police force and be adequately trained to meet the challenge of urbanization. Lagos city, more like Nigeria is grossly under-policed.

To mitigate crimes related to traffic jams, the long-awaited light rail project which took off in 2006, as well as the Lagos Cable Car transit system have to see the light of day. Similarly, more attention to water transportation is needed to take the mounting pressure off the roads.The street light project will assist in exposing the miscreants. The police has to engender a closer working relationship with the public; to enhance relevant information gathering mechanism.

Even as one highly commends the symbiotic synergy which the recent donation of security gadgets and facilities by the government to the police symbolizes, sustained mass sensitization of the populace has become an imperative. Also, the federal government has to collaborate more to stem the rising tide of criminality in the state.Crime thrives when potential victims are complacent and security personnel are ill-motivated and ill-trained. Good governance is a collective responsibility.