Features Write-Ups

LAGOS, RAPID RESPONSE SQUAD AND PUBLIC SECURITY

Biola Ajayi

Public Security is the main duty of any government, be it federal, state or local. The lack of viable public and safety mechanisms in any given society makes sustainable socio-economic development a very difficult task.

Lagos’ position as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, and indeed West Africa, has potent security implications. Its sheer human density, border with Benin Republic, high concentration of banks, industries, companies, and other commercial enterprises makes it naturally attractive to criminals. Thus, the rate of crime in Lagos, over the years, has always been relatively higher than those of other parts of the country.

It is, therefore, only natural for successive administrations in the state to evolve various strategies to tackle crime in the state. Prominent among such is ‘Operation Sweep’ by the Buba Marwa military administration. The Tinubu Administration restructured and re-organized ‘Operation Sweep’ and renamed it, ‘Rapid Response Squad’ [RRS]. As the name implies, the Squad was charged to be on the move at the flip of the finger once there was any incident of robbery in any part of the state.

Over the years, the RRS has undergone various stages of transformation as deemed necessary by succeeding administrations. Presently, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has made upgrading of security mechanism in the state a top priority. Therefore, one of his earlier tasks upon inauguration was to meet with key stakeholders in the State to advance security course. On the occasion, over one billion naira was realized as cash donations from various corporate organisations and individuals while others made commitments to provide other vital technical supports.

In order to sustain the tempo, the Ambode administration has made concerted efforts to fortify the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), in partnership with the State Police Command and other stakeholders, to further enhance its operational capability. This is reflected in the handing over of 2 surveillance helicopters, 10 armoured tanks, 10 brand new Hilux vehicles and115 new power bikes, to the State Police Command and RRS respectively. This is in addition to the purchase of 100 new squad cars for a new initiative tagged Special Operation Service (SOS), which will harmonize community policing in partnership with the Rapid Response Squad (RRS). Likewise, an integrated security and emergency control platform that interface with all security networks in the State has been set up.

With a view to attracting the needed investment that will enhance prosperity in the State, the Ambode administration got involved once again in what is, perhaps, the most audacious intervention by any state government in the country in public security by donating security equipment worth N4.7b to the State Police Command. As enormous as this financial support is, the administration has continued to put in place further investment aimed at enhancing professionalism and efficiency in the RRS. The overall aim is to ensure that the Squad has the capacity to swiftly respond to crimes in the state.

Not quite long ago, the state government made another presentation of 140 brand new Ford Ranger Pick-Ups and 335 Power Bikes fitted with communication gadgets, Helmets, Bullet Proof vests and other kits at a cost of N1.85billion to the Squad. The equipment, which was commissioned by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has since been distributed to the RRS, 107 Police Stations and Thirteen Police Area Commands in Lagos State. Other beneficiaries include the Nigeria Customs, Immigration Services, the Nigeria Army, Air force, Navy, DSS, AIG Zone 2, Civil Defence, Federal Road Safety Corps, LASTMA, NDLEA, Lagos State Task Force and the Nigeria Prison Services. Provision of this equipment is a deliberate attempt to fast-track investigation, surveillance and intelligent information gathering

The state government has equally rebranded the RRS in order to give it a refreshingly new public outlook. This is geared towards improving public perception of the outfit. Cheerfully, months after the re-branding process, things are, indeed, getting better with the RRS. This much is validated by its Commander, Assistant Police Commissioner Tunji Disu, who recently revealed that the Squad is currently experiencing better days in terms of performance and professionalism. This is reflected in the enhanced operation of the outfit as some of its operatives are now strategically located in various locations across the state, especially at hitherto uncovered places.

The leadership of RRS has also been working hard to ensure that its operatives are properly trained so they could really come to grasp with the enormity of the task they are saddled with as well has acquire the required competence to effectively carry out the task. Recently, a training programme with the theme: “The Good Guys”, which placed high premium on policing with human face as well as enhancing the commitment of officers towards crime fighting, was organized for officers of the security outfit. At the training, officers were reminded of the need to be civil in their dealings with members of the public while they were also urged to be more professional in their handling of crime and criminals.

Currently, the outfit is exploring the use of technology to enhance operational efficiency. This is to stimulate scientific policing, tracking and investigating of crime cases through technology. To further boost the morale of its rank and file, operatives of the Squad enjoy special allowance from the state government while they are equally insured against any eventuality. All this has helped to motivate them in the discharge of the onerous and delicate task of securing the metropolis.

Happily, the huge investment by the state government on the RRS and public security in general is paying off. According to a recent statistic from the Lagos State Police Command, crime rate has drastically reduced by 65 percent in the state. Consequently, the state is now a lot safer and more investor’s friendly. Thus, Lagos can now attract the needed investment as the environment is now friendly not for investors but for all law abiding residents.

It is, however, important for every segment of the society to support the state government and all security agencies in the war against crime because public security is the responsibility of all.

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