By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Monsur Olowoopejo
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has disclosed that 124 policemen died in encounters with armed robbers between January 2007 and September 2011.
Fashola made the disclosure last Tuesday, at the 5th Town Hall meeting on security with the theme; ‘Rising the current challenges’, organized by the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, LSSTF, in Victoria Island.
He said the Town Hall meeting challenges the resolve made by the state Government in 2007 about securing the State and called upon everyone to acknowledge that crime is a threat to their businesses and their lives.
Apart from enumerating the state’s unceasing investment to sustain security since 2007, Fashola stated that in 2011 alone, the state has provided 10 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), 60 high power motor bikes, 50 patrol vehicles and six boats as well as securing approval for five new Area Commands which it intends to build in 2012.
“We hope that from this meeting, we will raise enough money to provide five hundred more vehicles, 200 more patrol bikes and at least, 20 more Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC)” he said.
He told the gathering that the state government “lost a total number of 124 policemen in encounters with armed robbers between January 2007 and September 2011. We should honor their memory by pledging more support for their comrades in arms for, in spite of the dangers, the security personnel have continued to respond to distress calls once they were alerted”.
He also commended the team of 21 police officers that “investigated and stormed the hideout of heavily armed robbers and kidnappers resulting in the arrest of three members of the gang, the rescue of three kidnapped victims and the recovery of a haul of dangerous weapons including rocket launchers”.
He noted that the challenges of security and law are a growing threat all across the world. “The world is increasingly plagued by ideological, religious and economic challenges, and the countries like the United States, Britain, Greece and Italy, which used to act as shock absorbers receiving millions of immigrants are facing grave social and economic problems”.
The governor recalled that when he assumed duties in 2007, the biggest single challenge to the realization of the dreams of the administration was posed by insecurity, saying that not only were lives being lost to crime on an almost daily basis in traffic, bank robberies and home invasions, the law enforcement personnel were neither equipped to fight crime nor were they motivated to do so.
“The capacity we installed in 2007 has therefore become stretched. The vehicles have aged and need to be replaced. The demands are new, the methods of the criminals are changing and they are investing in their businesses in order to put our own lives and businesses at risk”.
“I stand before you very proudly to assert that we have overcome many of these challenges. The road to progress has not been easy. It has demanded thousands of hours of hard work which we have gladly given. We have been greatly inspired by your support and sense of community in joining us to fight crime and preserve law and order.
“The evidence of such support could be seen in the fact that our night life and economy is getting robust by the day and providing jobs for young people and investors in entertainment and hospitality. Many more businesses are opening and new hotels, restaurants, night clubs and cafes are springing up with the promise of more to come”, Governor Fashola said.
He said government has complemented this by lighting up many streets of Lagos with power provided by diesel fired generators and the policemen are now better equipped to respond because they now have patrol vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carriers to fight crime.
“Keeping them on the road to protect all of us requires hundreds of thousands of liters of petrol, diesel and other logistics. We are paying them an improved monthly allowance and those at the vanguard of responding to violent crimes now have a group life and accident insurance coverage”, the Governor stated.
He warned all property owners who harbor criminals that if apprehended, the Certificate of Occupancy of such properties would be revoked while the property will be acquired for public use.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of the Security Trust Fund, Chief Remi Makanjuola who was represented by his Vice, Mr Olusegun Kazeem, (DIG) RTD, said the greatest challenge facing the trust fund is about sustaining what it has built over the years.
In a report of the Board of Trustees, the Executive Secretary of Lagos State Security Trust Fund, Mr Fola Arthur –Worrey said the most pressing challenge of the Fund is sustainability and growth over the long term.
Giving an update on the security situation in the State as well as current challenges, the State Police Commissioner, Mr Yakubu Alkali said from available records, the State Police Command could hardly boast of ten serviceable vehicles prior to the advent of the security trust fund.
Mr Alkali stated that the story is however different today as the command is now the proud recipient of sundry logistics and financial assistance which has immensely boosted the capacity of the men to perform their duties.
The Police Commissioner listed items which the command has so far received to include two helicopters, 30 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), 300 patrol vehicles including mobile workshop vehicles, five W-19 Fibre Boats fitted with double 75HP Outboard Engines, 100 Ballistic Helmets, 1000 AK-47 rifles, two million 7.62MM Caliber ammunition, 60 patrol motorcycles and 300 Walkie-Talkies.
“Within the last few months, crime have not only been prevented, but have been cracked or nipped in the bud when committed. This is due to the quick response to distress calls and the scrupulous and diligent use of information volunteered by members of the public and tools at the disposal of the Police to do the job”.
The Police Commissioner who buttressed his presentation with several reported cases of armed robbery and kidnap cases which the command foiled especially the one involving the recovery of a cache of arms and ammunition from some criminals and release of four kidnap victims in Igando, an outskirt of Lagos.
Special commendation Bravery Awards were presented to 21 police officers who have been very exemplary in confronting criminals.
They include; the Commander of Police Mobile Force 2, Keffi, Superintendent Patrick Ejedawe, which led the team that secured the release of four kidnapped men, Superintendent Aba Kyari, Deputy Superintendent Ugar Udoh, Assistant Superintendent of Police ASP, Apochi Joseph, ASP Charles Onwuka, Inspector Bernard Benimare, Inspector Edward Iguma among others.
They proudly received the awards and handshakes from the Governor and members of the Board of the LSSTF.