As the smallest state in the country by landmass, with arguably the highest population of over 20 million, Lagos State is also the economic hub of the country, home to the largest number mega-corporations and other profitable manufacturing companies.
As a result of this scenario, the state is facing immense pressure on various fronts, including the security architecture, hence the need to take security issues seriously.
However, the outgoing Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Hakeem Odumosu scored high when, among other things, he claimed that there was no bank robbery while in office, even though there was a cocktail of other cases of theft. , including the increase in robberies, which resulted in loss of life.
Despite this, some locals and stakeholders are of the opinion that the mishandling of the #EndSARS protest by Odumosu and his lieutenants made the exercise deadly.
Commissioner Abiodun Alabi, who took over from Odumosu, has already indicated the philosophy that would guide his operations, emphasizing that the command under his watch would pay attention to visibility policing, and ensure dominance of the security space by ensuring the presence of police at all times to deter criminals as a preventive measure.
“It has become necessary to highlight my model and my police vision. We will ensure that the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) is encouraged and strengthened to respond quickly and effectively to citizens’ concerns,” Alabi promised during his first press briefing last week.
He promised that his men would perform their duties in accordance with professional ethics, especially in the face of the problems of corruption, extrajudicial executions and acts of incivility towards members of the public which still occur daily.
“We will strive to build trust with members of the public, particularly with state actors and non-state actors through intelligence-led community policing. Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers will be encouraged to meet regularly with non-state actors to ensure that common issues facing their different areas of responsibility are addressed collectively,” the PC said.
Alabi pledged not to be allergic to constructive criticism, but to see the information needed to revamp the security architecture for new policing strategies, revealing that dedicated lines would be provided for public feedback, while new crime patterns would be monitored and mapped. outside.
He said: ‘Therefore, I will encourage collaboration with the Fourth Estate of the Kingdom and appeal for matters regarding our policing policies in the State to be brought to my attention promptly. I will also endeavor to have talks with the journalists where solutions will be proposed and discussed amicably.
“Trends and patterns of crime will be continuously monitored to ensure the state’s crime mapping to allow us to design appropriate crime prevention strategies,” he said.
Alabi, who maintained that gang disruptions would be dealt with holistically and that the culprits would face the consequences of their actions, promised to work diligently to make the state safer and more secure for investment and habitation.
One resident, Adebowale Ogunbanjo, however, advised the police chief to look into the frequent cases of robbery, as well as the illegal collection of money by people claiming to have been empowered by local councils and transport unions. .
“These people apart from the arrogance they show in their missions are neither accountable nor transparent, a development that leads to loss of revenue for the state.
“Young people wielding weapons usually harass motorists in traffic at night and seize their valuables while inflicting bodily injuries on those who try to resist them,” Ogunbanjo noted.
Program Coordinator, Justice and Security Dialogue at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Isioma Kemakolam, while X-raying the performance of the former commissioner, described him as a distinguished officer who possesses surprising and overlooked qualities. which are essential for every officer serving in a place like Lagos.
He noted that Odumosu had good communication with policy makers and had shown a reasonable level of integrity on different occasions, even in the midst of threat, adding that to some extent he had shown open about the reasons for any action taken and was always quick to reassure the public of their safety and of police cooperation.
“Despite these qualities, CP was not a community-oriented person, probably because his interest was in mobilizing bigwigs to support the police.”
Kemakolam advised the new police helmsman to focus on the daily violence plaguing the state with no signs of abating.
“For example, domestic violence, police brutality, robbery, bribery and extortion by police officers, and fraud to name a few. These types of crimes are not driven solely by poverty, but rather by the intersections of other conditions or factors such as attitude/response of authority including police to tensions, judicious and inequitable distribution of income, injustice, corruption that shape the society and influence the behavior of people (including the police),” she said.
On what should be done differently, Kemakolam said a relationship-based policing architecture that fosters community cohesion is imperative.
“A model of policing that emphasizes understanding the differences between groups and individuals, in order to build mutual trust and respect. A police architecture that models the public health prevention model is better than a cure. For example, this health model focuses on the prevention of health problems. Such a model, if adapted to a cooperative policing architecture, will produce positive results because it is associated with the implementation of strategies to encourage prevention, rather than waiting for crime to happen and then the subsequent reaction.
“Finally, I would like to see a policing architecture based on an interdependent approach; where policy and practice operate simultaneously,” Kemakolam said.
She noted that in Lagos, as in all other megacities in Nigeria, individuals or businesses have demonstrated the ability to protect their interests or values against threats, such as crime and violence, as they arise. increase in society. “This ability is more often than not, still determined by the possession and deployment of instruments of violence, even if it harms the safety of the vast majority of people, as many communities have witnessed.
“Greater application of instruments of violence by the police, military, groups, individuals or communities is an indication of insecurity, and in many cases it comes from the failure to create an environment conducive that makes crime and the use of violence unnecessary,” she said. .
Kemakolam continued, “An environment where citizens can, on their own initiative, decide to visit the police and the police can occasionally walk around their communities not to arrest them, but to control them.”
For a former Lagos State Department of State Services (DSS) Director, Mr. Dennis Amachree, Odumosu did his best but had hard times, especially the #EndDSARS incidents, which would have given him invaluable lessons to learn, even as he observed that the state is unique, with its sophisticated urban population, crime and criminals.
Amachree today, a security consultant said: “Lagos metropolis has a population of over 25 million. It has the fourth highest GDP in Africa, with the continent’s largest and busiest seaports. It is an international city, serving as a melting pot of diverse cultures, educational centers and home to cybercriminals, political agitators, kidnappers, ritual killers and an army of street urchins, who commit crimes in the notorious traffic of Lagos and in some neighborhoods.
“So policing Lagos State will not be a tea party. It will require a collaborative approach, public/private partnership and a heavy reliance on electronic intelligence gathering,” the member of the Order said. of Niger (MON).
Amachree argued that effective policing is the result of deliberate training and retraining of officers and men, so something must be done urgently regarding the welfare and benefits of the police in the state in particular and in the country in general.
He suggested the cancellation of police barracks to allow police and officers to live among Lagosians, which will greatly improve police-community relations.
He advised the new CP to strictly follow the Police Act 2020, which shifts the law enforcement paradigm towards greater respect for the basic human rights of citizens.
“Unlike other states in Nigeria, many Lagosians know their rights. He shouldn’t be rushing to arrest people and parade them on TV. Instead, it should beef up its intelligence and investigation services to get all the facts before they focus on apprehending suspects.
“If Lagos is to take its place as the fourth largest city in the world in the near future, the foundation must be built then. There should be deliberate efforts to make Lagos a ‘smart city’ with a heavy reliance on artificial intelligence and smart surveillance cameras that cast a security blanket over the city,” Amachree said.
Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) Lagos Branch President, Ms. Funmi Sessi, said the new PC should up its game and use intelligence gathering, while partnering with community stakeholders .
“Lagos is still secure to a large extent and its security is not the job of the police alone, it is the job of everyone, including people in the community. If we let state security only to the police, it would escalate. He should collaborate with other security agencies, the army, the air force, the navy, the civil protection and the neighborhood watch. With the support of the governor and the support of the people, he would succeed.
Sessi urged the PC to avoid partisanship, but to do their job professionally without playing the gallery.
“He should also disclose his plans to residents so they can access them. It should demand more hands and facilities due to the population explosion Lagos is experiencing,” the NLC Chairman said.