That Lagos has the highest average crime rates across crime categories among top Nigeria’s urban centers cannot be disputed. The security challenge in the state has become worrisome requiring residents to be more security conscious. OGUNTADE ISMAILA in this report takes a look at the identified security threats in some areas within the nation’s commercial nerve center and steps being taken to solve the problem
When the German sociologist, philosopher Max Weber and other European sociologists wrote in the eighteen and nineteen centuries about the challenges and changes that occurred as a result of the transition of societies from agrarian and village-based forms to industrial and urban-based ones, they merely stated the obvious.
They proposed that during rapid social change, growing and expanding cities would be hotbeds of crime and experience a number of other problems.
Although they did not have Lagos State in mind, the city over time has grown to become home to people of diverse backgrounds putting members of the public at the receiving end of security challenges that daily manifest themselves across the state, and particularly in some dark spots.
LEADERSHIP Weekend checks showed that some area and bus stops in the Africa’s modern mega city are becoming too difficult to stay or hang out for long hours. For example,
For instance, in Agege Pen Cinema, at night or early in the morning from 5a.m, the security challenges in the area are usually caused by some notorious groups of boys called Awawa Boys, most of whose ages range from 16- 18 years.
These boys not only harass innocent people they also could slap, break bottles on people’s head, and if anyone proves stubborn, they may even kill the person after collecting everything in his/her possession.
In addition, the boys could rob with dangerous weapon and also gang-rape females. A similar situation could be recorded at Ikotun/Igando Bus Stop: or any bus stop from Ikotun to Igando, where dangerous objects could be used to rob innocent citizens at will. When some groups of dangerous boys called, “No Salary Boys,” operate, they do it with less mercy on people.
These boys also operated in the afternoon, and their modus operandi is to rub the passerby with dangerous weapons. Also in Boundary bus stop in Ajegunle, you should not spend more time there; and these boys popularly referred to as the ‘one million boys’ operate in their territory where criminals attack passengers in vehicles.
At Abule Egba Traffic Light, area harbors dangerous street urchins who can forcefully take your belongings and even harm you. Berger bus stop (along OPIC–Ibadan Expressway)is another bus stop where suspected criminals attack victims with guns on the long bridge and in traffic jams.
Ijora Bus Stop, also a notorious spot for gang-rape; abduction in buses (popularly known as “one chance”); and at Mile 2 Oke, hammers, knives, guns are freely used to rob motorists and pedestrians in traffic jam.
Bolade Bus stop, Oshodi, once noted for chaos, has improved since the face-lift done by the Lagos State Government. But during rush hours and late in the nights, mugging is common.
Also at Ajah Bus stop, sporadic clashes often break out among rival street urchins loyal to a ‘certain chief’ and over collection of tolls from commercial bus drivers. Women are alleged to have been raped at night during such clashes
Many residents that spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend about the crime situation in the state at separate interviews said the crime rate in some areas of the state is worrisome.
Mrs. Mabel Uyense said ,” You dare not cross Ojuelegba Railway crossing in the odd hours of the day. If you try it they will dispossess you of all your belongings and run away , they can even rape the woman.
‘’The security and law enforcement agencies are trying their best, especially the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), You see them patrolling , the streets of Lagos but these criminals still come out to strike. Many of the attacks have resulted to deaths. A lot more work needs to be done to establish causality behind urban crime. There appears to be no clear-cut conclusion that could be drawn from statistics provided by the police.”
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in his plans for 2020 for “saver Lagos,” says his administration has put certain measures in place to improve the security situation in the state.
He revealed that by 2020, the state government would build a new control and command centre, as well as install over 2,000 cameras across the state.
Governor Sanwo-Olu has explained that this was part of his administration’s safety project.
He said, “One of the things that we realised that is happening everywhere in the world is that security is also going tech; you need a lot of devices to be able to monitor all of it.
“Next year, we are building what we call a new control and command centre as part of our safe city project, as part of our megacity security deliverables. We will have up to 2,200 high definition cameras across the state.”
The governor also gave an overview of his plan for the environment and called for measures to prevent a situation that could lead to a population explosion.
He noted that one of the efforts by his administration was to appeal to residents to ensure they register with the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) for proper capturing and planning.
As far as the Commissioner of Police Hakeem O. Odumosu is concern, everything in life starts and ends with security.
Odumosu noted that the successes recorded by the Command in the last one month was unprecedented, thanking the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu Abubakar, for giving him the opportunity to pilot the affairs of the Command.
The CP who urged the residents not to entertain any fears in the blighted areas touted to be dangerous zones said, “I assumed duty as the 36th Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command on December 14, 2019. The last 55 days were quite eventful and tasking for us.
He said that, the “first major challenge I met was traffic gridlocks in different parts of the state, which had a strong link with traffic- related crimes such as traffic robbery.
“As a strong believer of problem solving approach, teamwork and stakeholders’ engagement and participation, I summoned an emergency meeting of all Area Commanders, Area Operation Officers, State Traffic Officers, Divisional Traffic Officers and Traffic Officers in the Command’
Odumosu said “the Command, with the support of the Lagos State Government deployed 200 Motorcycles to various parts of the state for traffic control and to also combat the menace of traffic robbery.
“Cultism and youth gangsterism is another security problem we focused our resources on. We have observed the activities of those cult groups and gangs for the last two months and have gathered credible intelligence about them.
‘’The various cult groups and gangs identified within the state include: Aiye and Eiye confraternities, One million boys at Ajengule, Fadeyi boys at Fadeyi area, Akala boys at Mushin area, Nokia group at Surulere area, Shitta boys at Bariga, Oworonshoki, Shomolu and Palm grove areas, Awawa boys at Dopemu, Agege, Ogba and Iyana Ipaja, Ijesha boys and Aguda boys at Surulere.
“We have reviewed our strategies and have initiated far reaching approach to totally eradicate this menace. I have launched a Special Strike Force on social miscreants to effectively combat those miscreants who have chosen the wrong path of life.
“We are taking the fight to their door steps, we are all out for them. We will fish them out, isolate them and bring them to justice. We are battle ready to uproot every cultist den and hideouts until they are totally defeated.”
He sounded a warning to members of those gangs and cult groups to either renounce their membership or be prepared to face the full weight of the law. This is a promise. And to parents and guardians of those youths, my message is simple, monitor the activities and movements of your children and wards and make sure that their mission on the public space are legitimate otherwise, they should steer clear.”
He added that, “I therefore, call on everyone both old and young, rich and poor to join us in this noble fight. We must cleanse our communities off those few criminal elements who have threatened our social and economic well-being. Together we can subdue them.
“My mission as Commissioner of Police Lagos State Command is to provide a safe and secured State that will guarantee the socio-economic well-being of the people and enhance their quality of life. This will be achieved through evolving a more courageous, dedicated, humane and professional police officers in the State”.
He said, Our policing plans for 2020 includes: Full implementation of Community- based policing policies and strategies that will close the gaps between the police and the people, foster cordial relationship and build strong and effective partnerships, visibility policing and prompt response to distress calls, Intelligence led policing approach, professional and unbiased investigation of criminal cases and diligent prosecution”.
According to him, “Others includes; Respect for and protection of human rights and zero tolerance for corruption, Multi agencies collaboration, capacity building for Officers and Men of the Command and enhanced welfare package.