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AMBODE AND NEW FACE OF SECURITY IN LAGOS

Bilikis Bakare
Public Security is the primary duty of any government, be it federal, state or local level. It is the sacred duty of a government, and is obliged to offer to all of its citizens on equal basis, irrespective of class, wealth, position, tribe, religion, or any other such classifications. The main goal of public security is to ensure the protection of every citizen, organizations and institutions against threats, injury, crime, hazards, disasters, crisis and all such activities that could endanger lives and properties. The public security consciousness of any government is ultimately an indicator of its public acceptance. This is because public security is one of the most prominent factors that determines good governance and guarantees the extent of socio-economic growth and development. The lack of viable public and safety mechanisms in any given society makes sustainable socio-economic development a very difficult task.

The special status of Lagos as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, and indeed West Africa, has its peculiar security challenges. With a population of over 21 million due to endless survival and economic driven immigration of people from all over the country, the security challenges in the state is peculiar and therefore needs peculiar solution. Consequently, successive Administrations in the State had evolved various strategies to tackle the menace of criminal activities. Prominent among such is ‘Operation Sweep’, a security outfit that represented the response of the Colonel Buba Marwa Administration to the menace of criminal activities in the State. The outfit comprised members of the Police Force as well as other members of the Armed Forces such as Air Force, Navy and Army. It was provided with modern security equipment and gadgets that turned it into an albatross of men of the underworld. At the height of its glory, the outfit had helicopters with which it patrolled the State to ensure that criminal activities were reduced to the barest minimum.
The Tinubu Administration equally saw the need to tackle security challenges in the State headlong. It therefore, restructured and re-organized ‘Operation Sweep’ and renamed it, ‘Rapid Response Squad’ [RRS] as embodiment of its administration security outfit. 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. Demonstrating genuine political will, the administration ensured that the outfit was well taken care of in the area of provision of basic logistical needs. It was provided with vehicles and communication gadgets, among other necessary equipments that could aid its battle against crime.

At the inception of the Babatunde Raji Fashola [SAN] Administration, it let no one in doubt of its intention to make public security one of its cardinal objectives. To demonstrate this, it made security an integral part of its Ten-Point Agenda [TPA]. A security committee was thereafter put in place. The committee later gave birth to the establishment of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund.
The establishment of the Security Trust Fund became imperative when the Fashola Administration received and reviewed the report of the Security Committee charged to look into ways and means of combating the growing menace of violent crimes in the State. Consequently, the administration set up the State Security Committee. A review of the committee’s report reveals that the challenge was essentially related to logistics, mobility, communication, kitting and low morale, which fundamentally translates to funding. With the realization that the huge demands of security can no longer be met by government alone, the Lagos State Security Trust Fund is primarily conceived to institutionalise an enduring public/private approach to security challenges in the State.
Building on these successes of his predecessors, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has been working relentlessly, with other key stakeholders, to advance security course in the State. Recently, at the behest of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), the Governor met with individuals and corporate organisations that made commitments in cash and kind towards advancing a safer Lagos. At the event, over one billion naira was realised as cash donations from various corporate organisations and individuals while others made commitments to provide other vital technical support. Consequently, 10 brand new Hilux vehicles and 15 motorbikes were handed over to the Lagos State Police Command as part of the state government’s commitment to ensure a secured and investors’ friendly State. Likewise, 100 new power bikes, 10 armoured tanks and a helicopter have been acquired by the state government to reinforce the security of the state. 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).
An integral part of the Ambode administration’s renewed plan to stem up security in the State is to fortify the Rapid Response Squad (RRS). This is in addition to establishing an integrated security and emergency control platform. Part of the arrangement is for the control and command centre in Alausa, Ikeja to have an interface with other security networks through surveillance cameras. It is the firm conviction of the Ambode administration that security is at the very center of its ploy to turn Lagos into a 24/7 economy. This explains why the administration remains committed towards developing new strategies to efficiently police Lagos and purge the State of criminal activities.
This explains why the Army was deployed to Ishawo to provide round the clock security for the residents against the notorious “Ijaw Boys”, placing the community on a 6am to 6pm curfew. At the inception of the present administration, the Governor met with the naval chief towards proper policing of the waterways, since most criminals now flee with their loots through this route.
Since we now live in an ICT driven world, the State government is already working on a scheme to incorporate technology into the State’s security system. Through this scheme, the whole of Lagos can be electronically monitored in order to prevent violent crimes, protect lives and property and to be able to prevent crisis and to manage crime situations at any location in the State. The technological device has the ability to recall events in real time at an accurate date and provide information that may lead to the detection and prosecution of criminal activities. The device is to be used in sensitive parts in the State.
Therefore, it is essential that the residents co-operate with the Governor to achieve zero tolerance for crimes and criminalities in the state and for Lagos to maintain the enviable leadership position of the country’s economic and financial hub.

Prior to the deployment of soldiers at Ishawo in Ikorodu, Lagos State, the fear of the “Ishawo or Ijaw boys” is the beginning of wisdom. Residents used to sleep with one eye open as these miscreants operated in broad daylight, threatening and often times maiming anybody including landlords who dared to challenge them. Stories were also told of how they turned themselves to judges, beating up husbands for reprimanding their wives. Some of these rascals went as far as soliciting for customers to buy petrol from bunkers, raping and defacing women at will. It was when the residents got fed up with the situation that they cried out to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. It was this situation that made the governor to seek the intervention of the military to curb the activities of these hoodlums.

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