By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
For the third consecutive year, Lagos State has recorded no single case of armed robbery attacks on banks and other financial institutions operating within its boundary. The development hinted a significant improvement in security surveillance and the sustainability of measures adopted in checking organised crimes.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday, shared the progress with stakeholders in the security circle and private sector donors at the 16th Town Hall Meeting on security organised by the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), at Civic Centre in Victoria Island.
Sanwo-Olu said his administration adopted a technology-driven strategy that enabled the security agencies respond proactively ahead of potential breaches at vulnerable spots, including a web of undercover operations to frustrate armed attacks on possible targets. This, he said, has bolstered the confidence of the financial institutions to freely move their cash around the state with limited risks.
The Governor said the collaborative security approach had yielded significant results in crime fighting, leading to a sharp reduction in rate of criminality across Lagos.
In the last 12 months, the State recorded only 21 incidents of armed robbery – the lowest rate in the last decades. From last year November till date, the police and combined team of security agencies have foiled 149 armed robbery attempts across communities.
Sanwo-Olu said the State had not only boosted the morale of the security personnel with constant training and provision of equipment, but had also raised its capacity to contain emerging threats.
He said: “As a Government, our approach to security is holistic and collaborative. Our security policy is driven by the need to engender a wholly secure environment that enables the wellbeing, prosperity and fulfilment of all the residents. We consider no amount of investment too big to be put forward in ensuring the progress we have achieved since inception is sustained. In the last three and a half years, we have continued to maintain the record of zero incident of robbery attack on banks or any other financial institution operating in our state.
“LSSTF has been at the forefront of these security efforts. Through the agency, we have continued to provide interventions to the police and other security agencies operating in Lagos in the areas that include operational capacity, training and logistics. Our efforts have yielded encouraging results in crime fighting, as Lagos remains largely safe for business and living. This relative peace and safety that we have been experiencing in this massive mega city will not be compromised. We will continue to strengthen the security operation to ensure the progress recorded is not reversed.”
Next week, the Governor said Divisional Police formations will get 25 new pick-up trucks to assist in quick response to security threats in their areas of operation.
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government’s intention to employ digital surveillance in combating emerging crimes had started to take shape, given the phased rollout of technology tools, including high-definition cameras to monitor strategic locations across the State.
The Governor sent a loud warning to criminals still operating in Lagos to vacate the State before the law caught up with them. He pledged not to spare any effort in making the State unsafe and inhabitable for criminals.
Provision of security, Sanwo-Olu said, should not be seen as a one-way process, urging residents to collaborate and provide information to security agencies whenever they notice suspicious activities within their communities.
He said: “I am sending a strong and loud message to all purveyors of crime and criminality in Lagos. We will stay ahead of your intentions and actions, and we will fight you with everything we have. There will be no room for actions that undermine our well-being and our capacity to achieve our dreams and aspirations.”
The Governor said the LSSTF model adopted by the State in raising security standards had been effective, urging private sector donors to contribute their quota for the sustainability of the Fund.
LSSTF Executive Secretary, Dr. Abdur -Razaq Balogun, noted that the constraints necessitating the establishment of the Fund were far from being fully addressed, but said there was no alternative to the resource model in scaling up security response.
Since 2019, Balogun said LSSTF had provided 240 units of fully equipped operational vehicles to all security agencies in Lagos, in addition to provision of 230 units of motorbikes and security accessories, including 100 digital walkie-talkie, 167 cellular communication gadgets, 2,000 units of Level 4 bulletproof vests and ballistic helmets, among others.
Despite the successes achieved in the year, the LSSTF boss said the Fund had received the lowest public donation to the tune of N153 million, representing 6.3 per cent of public donations received in 2021.
Appealing for more funding from the private sector, Balogun said: “The necessity for crime-fighting agencies is continuous, as we must accept that crimes are still with us. As this is an election period, political violence is another clear danger we are facing. There is need to raise the capabilities of our security agencies to contain these threats as we approach general elections.”
Reviewing of crime report between November 2021 till date, Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, said Lagos Police Command arrested 146 armed robbers in 149 foiled attempts. In the same year, Lagos recorded 52 cases of cultism-related attack, with 240 suspected cultists arrested and charged.
The police chief disclosed that 89 high-grade arms and 376 assorted ammunitions were recovered, while 280 dangerous weapons, including cudgels, were seized from criminals.
Alabi said: “In the period under review, Lagos Police Command recorded a remarkable feat in crime fighting when we began checkmating the activities of commercial motorcycle riders, following Mr. Governor’s proscription of Okada in the State. Crimes being committed using motorcycles have reduced. Out of 8,105 Okadas we impounded from last year, 4,815 were seized between June and September 2022.”
The Commissioner appreciated the Governor for material and logistic support rendered to the State Police Command, assuring that his men would not rest on their oars towards ensuring peace and safety in Lagos.