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Crime rate heightens as Lagos Neighbourhood Watch goes ‘AWOL’

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Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC)

Despite establishment of Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), and massive investment in security by Lagos State Government, to curb rising crimes in the metropolis, rampant criminality in the city is giving residents great concerns.

Hardly a day passes without tales of robbery attacks on residents.

They are robbed at Mushin, Cele and Oke Afa, near Ajao Estate, Apakun and Island.

Residents in Abaranje, Itire and Lawanson, have sorrowful tales of how they are robbed, some times, at gun-point by miscreants.

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Some of the attacks happened in broad daylight and even few distances from police checkpoints or stations.

A victim, Njideka Samuel, said her phones and bags were snatched by hoodlums at Canoe last week.
Samuel said she was returning from work about 7:00p.m., the urchins came out from nowhere, and threatened to shatter her car window if she didn’t wind down.

Out of fear, she obliged and they took her phone and bag in the full glare of other motorists, and dashed away.

Another victim, Collins Udoh, who was robbed at Cele Express, said he was attempting to descend the bridge when a group of boys swooped on him and collected his laptop and wallet.

“ I sighted Vehicle Inspection Officials, checking vehicle documents close to the scene.

“ It was a traumatic experience with the enormous investments in security by the Lagos State Government,” he added.

Udoh questioned the whereabouts of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), a uniformed security agency established in 2016, to assist the Lagos State Police Command, and other security agencies, maintain law and order.

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He noted that in 2019, officials of LNSC were present in neighbourhoods with their motorcycles or bicycles but they are not seen anymore.

Also, a resident in Ilupeju, Folasade Okunfolami, said: “I saw some of the LNSC officers around my area a week ago inspecting abandoned vehicles but people who go to work early face a lot in the hands of miscreants and I wish they can do more.

“Robbers can now rob for four hours and go freely, security agencies will not show up but only to harass innocent persons, instead of protecting people.”

But the General Manager of LNSC, Prince Oyekan Falade, said the officials are still working, stressing that they decided to go undercover and stop putting on uniforms.

According to him, it was a strategy to help identify criminals on the streets.

Falade said: “Our men still patrol on bikes, but some of the bicycles are spoilt and we still go out of our way to take care of vehicles given to us in 2010. We’ve spoken with the governor and we have been assured that we will get more vehicles. As for the bicycles, I have the number given to each local government so, I will get to the bottom of everything to know what happened to them and hold whoever is responsible,” suggesting the agency had not done an inventory of its assets for some time.

Explaining how LNSC operates, he said: “When it comes to intelligence gathering, which is an undercover operation, officials are not in uniform like they used to be. If you look at the recent report of the state governor, he said there is no hiding place for criminals. It is because the intelligence gathering arms of the corps collated a 250 pages of dark spots.  If the governor could say that he has a document to work with, then, Lagosians are in the best position to judge if we are working or not .

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“We didn’t stop at giving the report to the governor, we went further to give reports to the commissioner of police, Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), Rapid Response Squad (RRS), the Ministry of Justice, and other MDAs involved in security.”

On why LNSC operatives have disappeared from some locations, he explained that some were absorbed by the Police.

“Our numbers are thinning down; the governor gave 4,250 of our men to the police as constabulary and we are still paying their salaries, so, on what basis will anyone say, Neighbourhood Watch is not working? We need gadgets, technology to combat crimes.”

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