Retooling Lagos state security architecture
As Lagos aspires to grow its economy to be the third largest on the continent, one sector that would play a critical role in the dynamism is the security sector.
It would be key in attracting appropriate investment and harnessing adequately the opportunities the new status would confer on the state is the security sector.
This is more so that the state hopes to grow its GDP through provision of services, particularly hospitality and entertainment.
This no doubt therefore calls for consolidating on the security architecture of the state, which should not just be about having a functioning new security architecture but one that is sustaining.
Wanting to be proactive, the Lagos State Government decided to initiate a security summit and the inaugural Lagos State Security Summit was held during the week with security experts and critical stakeholders played up strategies and policies to improve on the successes recorded so far by the state in securing lives and property of residents.
With the theme: “Securing Lagos State: Towards a Sustainable Framework for a Modern Mega City,” the platform provided that room for insights on how to better secure Lagos since it is key to driving in investment opportunities into the state.
And the promoters of the initiative seem pragmatic as it set a time frame of 2018 to 2030.
In his opening remarks, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode said the summit became important to scale up security in the state, as well as putting in place a concept of collective vigilance whereby all stakeholders in security management would have properly defined roles and relationships to stay ahead of all form of violent crimes such as terrorism, cyber and transnational organized crimes, among others.
He said the concept had become imperative in view of the vulnerability of the state to various security threats due to continuous influx of foreigners and people from other parts of the country into Lagos on a daily basis.
According to the Governor, “This has become necessary because of the continuous influx of foreigners and people from other parts of the country, in their thousands, into Lagos State on daily basis.
This has increased our vulnerabilities to threats of terrorism, transnational organized crimes, cyber and violent crimes of wider security dimensions”.
Ambode, represented by Chairman, Lagos State Security Trust Fund, Mr. Oye Hassan-Odukale, said since assumption of office, his administration had been consistently implementing its cardinal programmes built on the tripod of security, infrastructural development and poverty alleviation through employment generation, which had been yielding positive fruits.
He said: “Our human security focus has not only shaped our security architecture which is safety and civilian driven, from the primary to tertiary levels, but also guided our choice of infrastructural development projects and directly improves the life of Lagosians.
“A further analysis of our efforts indicates that less time now spent in traffic by motorists based on our transport sector reforms, better roads to increase the lifespan of vehicles, affordable housing programs, functional health care and education services, as well as employment generation value chain, have all enhanced the well-being of Lagosians. These efforts have indeed reduced all shades of criminalities in the state.”
Describing the theme of the summit as apt, Ambode said it was specifically designed to deliberate and chart a course to resolve and improve on the existing security in Lagos aside providing a clear direction to the expansion of security architecture to deal with security challenges of the future combining the short, mid and long terms respectively.
The governor said as a government, his administration was not only passionate about development, but also security of residents, adding however that in spite of the support extended so far by the State Government to security agencies through the Security Trust Fund, a lot more still needed to be done.
“We must create a sustainable security framework; a framework which will stand the test of time and enable every stakeholder in Lagos to participate.
So far, we have been encouraged by the massive contributions of many corporate organizations to the Security Trust Fund, but there is still a lot more to be done,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor, who also called for consideration of private security sector into the mainstream security architecture of the state, said his expectation at the summit was nothing but actionable outcomes that could be implemented to make the State safer.
“Our children must be able to move about without us worrying about them. We must ensure that Lagos continues to be a State of prosperity for all residents and visitors,” Governor Ambode said.
On his part, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Imohimi Edgal said the activities of the dreaded Badoo Cult Group hitherto prevalent in Ikorodu axis of the state as well as militancy especially along the riverine communities have been degraded.
Edgal was excited that the massive assistance extended to security forces by the State Government through consistent donation and funding of security equipment, has led to crime rate consistently declining.
Giving an overview of crime statistics in the state, he said from 2014 till date, a total of 1315 armed robbery attacks, 359 cult-related cases and 392 kidnapping cases were recorded, with several arrests made and prosecutions ongoing.
He further stated that community policing and security partnership helped in degrading militant groups hitherto operating in the state, which incapacitated them from carrying out attacks.
He also said the policy had greatly helped in putting a stop to activities of dreaded cult groups such as Badoo, with all their shrines demolished, while from January till date, no attack had been recorded from the militants.
He said: “In comparison, when I became Commissioner of Police, Lagos State in September last year, I introduced my own policing plan powered by the strategy and philosophy of community policing and community safety partnership.
“Policing like we all know is more about strategy and technology but there are other factors that come to play such as logistics and all that but when there is a clear-cut strategy backed with the right technology, then the war against crime would be won.
“Since my assumption of office, we have leveraged on the robust goodwill existing between the police and the government on one hand and members of the public on the other hand to record some modest achievements that have not only consolidated on the achievements of my predecessor and also ensured that the Command keep the flag flying,” the CP said.
He said a total of 15 town hall meetings were organised for him to meet with members of various communities and in all the meetings, the issue of trust consistently featured, while in response, a citizens complaint call centre was played up where people could lodge petition on issues bordering on professional misconduct of police officers, and that such had helped to rekindle confidence of the public in the police.
Going forward, Edgal called for increased manpower and a system to stop the practice whereby people spread fear through social media, as well as legislation to compel all businesses to install CCTV cameras within their premises.
The CP advocated the deepening of intelligence-led policing, involvement of traditional leaders in security architecture and investment in training of security personnel to bring about efficiency.
On his part, Executive Secretary of Lagos State Security Trust Fund, Dr Abdurrazaq Balogun, said with the population of Lagos which he puts above 21 million, it was certainly important for technology to be fully incorporated into the security architecture of the state.
He said: “I think technology is just the way to go for security in a state like Lagos with a population of about 21 million people and still counting. Certainly, you cannot have men on ground only policing the whole state; you have to involve technology in the policing and security of the state.
“From what we have heard here at the summit, it is not only about the physical policing. There are so many aspects of security we are speaking to.
People raised issues about environmental security, bio security, terrorism, maritime security, among others. I think basically, technology can do a lot in monitoring and ensuring a more robust security system in Lagos State.”
Speaking further, Balogun said the state government, through the summit, would bring forward a more robust framework for security in the state for the next four years.
Responding to comment by one of the participants at the summit for a robust security system to police the waterways and the coastal areas of the state, Balogun said the government was already working in that direction.
According to him, “We have done a lot as regards safety of the waterways and coastal communities. When I came into office before the administration of Governor Ambode, we only had about six gun boats on our waterways.
As we speak, we have about 28 and this tells us that this is a government that is very serious about policing our littoral waters.
“About our neighboring states, we are also very concerned but we have to get the buy in of the chief executive officers of these states to ensure that security is their priority because as long as we continue to prosper in Lagos, we are going to be attracting a lot more people into our state and certainly this is a question of chief executives taking the control of security and ensuring that it is also a top priority as we are doing in Lagos.”
“The biggest work we have on our hands is post-summit. What we have here is just a day summit but we will go back, analyze this information we have got; sit down together to separate the wheat from the chaff.
“We have also received a lot of documents from well-wishers and individuals telling us suggestions of where to go and so we are not in a hurry to have a document at the end of this summit. It may take us weeks but we have to ensure that we do a proper job.
“There has been suggestion of legislation to take care of some issues but there is a lot we are going to do and that is why part of the objectives of this summit is to proffer a homegrown solution to those things we can do independently of the federal government because you also recall that all security agencies are under the federal government.
We are going to seek homegrown solutions and so issues of CCTV or profiling the private security guards are under the purview of the state; we can pass legislation to that effect but like I said, we are not in a hurry; we will collate everything we have gathered and come up with a very robust document for the state,” Balogun said.