By Benjamin Omoike
Lagos State Governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday ordered a total clampdown on robbers and hoodlums terrorising the state, as a result of the lockdown to curtail the spread of the corona virus pandemic.
The governor, who dangled the axe while giving update on the COVID-19 management in the state, described the robbers as opportunistic, saying anyone caught in the act would have himself to blame.
To douse tension among restive youths, Sanwo-Olu said,”In the next couple of days, we will commence a daily “Food Kitchen” programme, which will see us aim to feed about 100,000 people daily. This will largely target the youths. We are identifying local food vendors, who will pilot this programme and ensure that the process of cooking and serving of the meals adhere strictly to public health guidelines.
“This brings me to the issue of the seeming rise in unrest in the metropolis and boundary communities. It is very apt that we have just concluded an emergency Security Council meeting this afternoon, in which all the various heads of the state’s security agencies were present. At this meeting, we discussed the increasing reports of crime and criminality across the metropolis, as cultists, miscreants and other criminals have sought to take advantage of the lockdown to unleash havoc on our people.”
“One of our key responsibilities as an administration, is the safety and security of the lives and properties of all citizens, and we will not abandon this responsibility at any time. There is no room whatsoever in Lagos State for criminal gangs or miscreants of any kind.
“In fact, over 100 suspects have been arrested in the last 72 hours on account of disturbances. All the suspects have accordingly been charged to court.
‘’Let me assure you that those miscreants that you may have seen in the videos going viral are not hungry people; they are not acting on the basis of hunger. They are opportunistic criminals, and they will be treated as such by the law enforcement agencies.”
He said the state has been in close and constant communication with the Federal Government on the issue, saying the IGP has deployed a Deputy Inspector General of Police, who is a seasoned crime fighter to Lagos as the Intervention Squad Coordinator, to help devise and superintend over a superior strategy to curtail and stem the perceived and actual threat of violence.
The governor added that with the new rapprochement, Lagosians will see an increase in mobile police deployment in all trouble spots in the metropolis; as well as the police intensifying their patrols around residential areas, boundary communities, and other critical areas of activities during this lockdown period.
He added that this will also be carried out in conjunction with other security agencies – Army; Navy; Airforce and Directorate of State Security Service.
Harping on the other palliatives, he said they were able to reach 200,000 households, which include the vulnerable, physically challenged and the elderly, in the first and second phase of the programme.
“During this time as well, we were also able to feed a large number of the organised informal sector; junior members of the military and police force in Lagos; as well as minimum wage earners in the state’s public service.
‘’As you are also aware, we announced a medical palliative for all those needing to access medical care during this lockdown, as well as free childbirth services for expectant mothers. I am pleased to announce that over 18,000 people have accessed free medical services in line with this directive, and we have recorded over 600 child births – all free of charge.’’
The governor said they are also cleaning up data from various social registers, to get a clean list of truly vulnerable and economically challenged persons, to enable remittance of cash to them.
‘’We aim to do these cash transfers by the end of the week to a minimum of 250,000 indigent citizens.
‘’Thirdly, I have just issued an order to the Police; LASTMA and the VIO, to release all impounded vehicles arrested for minor traffic offences from the 1st of March 2020 to date. This directive takes effect following the end of the lockdown.
‘’I am also pleased to announce that all the MSMEs and SMEs who have taken LSETF loans and other government programme loans will enjoy a three months moratorium. This will further help to cushion the effect of the lack of economic activities occasioned by the lockdown.’’