Tackling Insecurity Now And After COVID-19
“Safety and security are the most basic jobs of government. I understand that – both as a mayor who works every day to secure public safety and reduce crime and also as someone who deployed in uniform to Afghanistan because I believed joining the military was part of my duty to help keep my country safe”. These are the words of American patriot and former Mayor, Pete Buttigieg.
However, it is believed that successive governments in Nigeria have failed to live up to this saying by Buttigieg with poor investment in the police and military systems, faulty recruitment process for personnel of the Nigeria police and little attention to issues of security.
Although the 1999 constitution clearly states that security and welfare of citizens are the primary purposes of government, the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country has exposed the government’s attitude to the insecurity and hunger ravaging the land.
Lagos and Ogun state citizens appear to be more vocal in their outcry following incessant attacks by these criminal gangs (‘One Million Boys’ ‘Awawa Boys’ ‘No Salary Boys’) by posting videos of ‘criminal attacks’ and calling for help on social media.
Sequel to these alarms, residents of these areas have resorted to the self-help of burning tyres and keeping vigil against attack from hoodlums. Hoodlums, mostly street urchins popularly called ‘area boys’, cultists and those who collect daily levies from commercial vehicles and traders have formed part of the series of attacks and threats, having been off their daily source of livelihood as a result of the lockdown.
However, the Nigerian Police has described the crime episodes in Lagos and Ogun as mere rumour-mongering and fake news.
In fact, Lagos State Police boss, CP Hakeem Odumosu warned citizens against rumour-mongering and spreading of fake news in the twilight of the insecurity situation as a result of COVID-19, as he claimed it poses dangers to efforts of security agencies in crime prevention and control.
According to him, the Lagos State Police Command had received several calls and messages mostly from residents of Igando, Idimu and Ikotun among others, that a criminal gang known as “One Million Boys” are planning to attack their communities.
The Command, he claimed responded with a massive deployment of police patrol teams to beef up the security of the areas mentioned and other parts of the state. Police Special Forces are strategically positioned, patrolling the length and breadth of the State.
To boost the effort of Commissioners of police in Lagos and Ogun, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu Abubakar, deployed DIG Peter Ogunyanwo to Lagos in order to have an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in Lagos and Ogun as well as to coordinate the onslaught launched against criminal elements.
The IGP equally deployed Special Forces to support the tactical units initially deployed by the Commissioner of Police Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu. The Special Forces were deployed to Igando, Idimu, Ikotun, Agege, Dopemu, Abattoir, Mangoro, Alakuku, and other parts of Lagos State to provide round-the-clock patrols.
The teams have clear instructions to deal decisively with criminal elements operating under whatever guise in accordance with the law.
Odumosu had reassured that the police command would not relent on its efforts in protecting the lives and property of the citizens and residents. He had continually urged the public to remain calm and support their ongoing efforts in ridding the state of criminal elements.
He also claimed that the command with the support of Lagos has dealt a big blow to the criminal gang and several other gangs over the last four weeks. He repeatedly said that no criminal gang is capable of unleashing terror on our communities, and that rumour mongering and spreading of fake news poses a lot of dangers to our collective efforts in crime prevention and control.
Beyond Odumosu and IGP’s claim of water-tight security in the state, it is on good record that vehicles carrying foodstuffs belonging to traders in Lagos were robbed while series of broad daylight robberies, snatching of bags, and phones were reported in credible media.
Just a few days ago, during this COVID-19 pandemic, an Anglican priest, Revd Anthony Oyi, was kidnapped by suspected Fulani herdsmen on his farm at Issele-Mkpitime, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Gunmen killed 47 people in attacks on villages in Katsina in the early hours of last Saturday. The list goes on.
While it is a trying time for the police and other law enforcement agencies, it is also time for them to live up to their creed and guarantee the safety of citizens. While the insecurity situation during this COVID-19 pandemic is very worrisome, more worrisome is the predicted state of insecurity in post-COVID-19.
Pundits opined that the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, if not properly handled, could surpass the level of tragedy already experienced. Ordinarily, the youths are known to frequently exhibit restive tendencies.
There is no doubt about the fact that COVID-19 would be brought under control; that is certain.
However, no matter how well the Coronavirus gets smashed beyond resurgence, the ripple effect of its economic repercussions are already here with us, and way too huge to dismiss. At the end of …
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