But then, the public will not want to see any of the recently purchased patrol cars being used by police officers’ wives to either go shopping in the market for Ewedu or as status symbols at Owambe parties. They must be used strictly for the purpose for which they are meant.
With a population in excess of 21 million, Lagos is arguably the largest city in Nigeria. In fact, it is the second most rapidly growing urban area on the African continent after Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. As one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world, Lagos is the commercial capital of Nigeria and a major financial centre in Africa. In recent times, successive administrations have been putting measures in place to justify Lagos as a mega city. Furthermore, with one of the highest Gross Domestic Product, GDP, and also home to one of the largest and busiest seaports on the continent of Africa, Lagos presents an attraction to all manners of people in search of the golden fleece.
Side-by-side with this ever-increasing population comes a myriad of problems such as over-stretched infrastructure, inadequate health care delivery system and above all, security problems, to name a few. In the last few months, the issue of insecurity has been on the front burner with the unrestrained onslaught of armed robbers, kidnappers and other miscreants who have turned the heat on hapless citizens and helpless law enforcement agencies, particularly the police.
Perhaps, the most noticeable among these criminals are the band of ruthless and blood-thirsty armed robbers comprising mainly misguided youths who have taken to violent robberies as a way of life. Every now and then, they come in large contingents, well-armed and daring, as they wreck havoc on unsuspecting citizens who are indiscriminately cut down either at the scenes of violent robberies or in areas close to the scenes. Members of the security agencies are not spared either. They are continuously mowed down as the dare-devil intruders scramble to gain access to their targets which, in most cases, are financial houses where they help themselves by looting the treasuries and emptying the counters.
This ugly spectre, which has often sent cold shivers down the spines of residents of the city, has continued unabated for some time. In fact, it has also elicited some unpalatable side comments. Obviously, the spate of crime and criminality has also become an irritating nightmare to those in authority who have been working round the clock to find a lasting solution to the ugly development. Therefore, in an attempt to put an end to the growing concern expressed by Lagosians on the issue of insecurity in the state, the governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, last Friday, November 27, demonstrated his commitment to protecting lives and property in the State by donating security equipment and vehicles valued at a whopping N4.765bn to the state police command and the state’s rebranded Anti-crime outfit, the Rapid Response Squad, RRS.
Equipment donated include 100 4-door salon cars, 55 Ford Ranger pick-ups, 10 Toyota Landcruiser pick-ups, 115 power bikes, Isuzu trucks, three helicopters, two gun boats, 15 armoured personnel carriers, revolving lights, siren, public address systems. Also donated were vehicular radio communicators and other security gadgets including bullet proof vests, helmets, handcuffs, uniforms and many other kits. As a way to further motivate members of the security agencies, the State also put in place an improved insurance and hazard benefit schemes for the officers.
Recall that Lagos State was the first state in Nigeria to put in place a Security Trust Fund in the country in order to assist the police in performing their statutory role of protecting lives and property. The trust fund is a government-citizens’ partnership on security. The establishment of this trust fund, which attracted generous donations from many blue chip companies and high net worth individuals, has really changed the face of policing in Lagos. Buoyed by the successes achieved by this innovation in the state, many other states including the neighbouring Ogun State and a few others have since followed suit.
However, there seems to be a problem in the human components of this arrangement. Like we all know, equipment and armaments alone cannot deliver the needed results. This is where the human components come in. This is the more reason why the police high command should ensure that in posting officers and men to Lagos and assigning them responsibilities, round pegs should be put in round holes. To be frank, as it is, efficiency in the police is almost at its lowest ebb as the service seems to have been reduced to ‘who knows who.’ And, in any case, he who pays the piper calls the tune. The officers and men know this but there is virtually no avenue to ventilate their disgust. The question is: How many of these privileged officers who are posted to strategic beats are dedicated to fighting crime the way it should be?
It is a good thing that the governor said that those who are going to be engaged in using the newly procured equipment have been trained on how to use them. If that be the case, there should be training and retraining of the policemen. As we all know, training is a continuous thing. For instance, if an officer must be a Divisional Police Officer, DPO, he should be physically fit and not a mere bench warmer. Above all, the police should completely overhaul its operational strategies in order to effectively cope with the exigencies of modern crime where armed robbers, kidnappers and others now go about in large numbers, armed with sophisticated weapons, to carry out their nefarious acts.
During a robbery incident in the Ikorodu axis of the state earlier this year, reports had it that the control room of the state police command got wind of the movement of the robbers in time and told the police contingent, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, sent to accost them where and where to block. But while the young boys, obviously the rank-and-file of the force, were ready for a showdown, their leader was said to have been fretting because he was not a tested officer. Now, if the boys are brave but there is no good leader, then there is a problem somewhere. That is why the right people should be engaged. That is, those who are not only vast in methodology but with proper orientation on how to carry out their assignments.
By every standard, Solomon Arase, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, has been giving the right direction to his men, at least, theoretically. This should be adequately matched with action. There is the likelihood of insider collaboration among the security agencies in the wave of crime in the state. This should be thoroughly investigated and dealt with.
In the case of the renewed system of robbers passing through the waterways, the Marine Police should be effectively mobilised to give them a good fight. The first thing to do under such circumstance is to clear the waterways of boats and see who will come looking for a boat. And if the robbers block the roads, even if you cannot meet them face-to-face, fire some warning shots, encircle them and pin them down, then begin to do what in security parlance is known as “snake and tiger movements” to get them. Restrict all vehicles, Okada and others and since they cannot fly or put bags of money on their heads, their loot will become a burden to them. The police can also gain the upper hand if they launch their teargas properly. The teargas can be a decisive factor.
As Arase said at the formal handing over of the equipment last Friday, the equipment would surely allow police officers to be a step ahead of criminals. But then, the public will not want to see any of the recently purchased patrol cars being used by police officers’ wives to go shopping in the market for Ewedu or as status symbols at Owambe parties. They must be used strictly for the purpose for which they are meant. Period!
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