lLaunch neighborhood watch to fight market crime
By Emmanuel Elebeke
TRADERS in the popular Computer Village otherwise known as Otigba market, Ikeja last week accused men of the Nigerian police of impersonation and extortion in the market.
Although Police in the said market appear to be sanitizing the market as a safe place to do business, traders have contrary opinion that the men of the Nigerian police force were in the market to serve the public interest..
They laid this accusation before the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Ikeja division,Â Imohimi Edgal (CSP), during his visit to Ogunbiyi CommunitiesÂ and launching of Community Safety Partnerships.
According to some of the traders who showed no reservation in expressing their anger and disappointment before their visitor saidÂ some of the police men at the police post in the market from time to time connive with their counterparts posted out of theÂ stations to conduct illegal searching and extort money from them and their customers, even after showing them enough prove of ownership of items in their possession.
They wondered how policemen posted to guide and protect people in the market from touts and hoodlums could turn around in mufti to extort those they were asked to protect, even at the full glare of their superior officers.
Responding, the DPO expressed that such could happen among his men at a time the state commissioner of police is preachingÂ zero tolerance of corruption and crime in the state, and promised to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, the police boss used the occasion to announce plan to launch aÂ Community Safety Partnerships in the market.
The safety Partnership, according to him is to enhanceÂ the community policing earlier launched in Ikeja in September last year,Â in line with the Inspector General of Police 2nd Point Agenda which is the prevention and reduction of violent crimes and other forms of criminality through community policing, intelligence-led policing and partnerships.
He expressed optimism that the security partnership initiative when put in place would enhance cooperation between the police and the communityÂ and also boost productive relationship between the police and Ikeja community in general.
â€œMy community visit to Ogumbiyi community today is aimed at enhancing the relationship already existing between you and the police, by engaging in consultations with the community and thereby creating a clearer understanding of shared problems; expectations and needs,â€ he stated, adding that there must be a greater community input in crime prevention and control with itâ€™s attendant numerous benefits.
Quoting a community survey from the police division in 2009 and 2010, CSP Edgal said that the crime rate in Ikeja had reduced by over 60 percent, which he attributed to increased community partnerships in fighting crime.
He noted that the informal policing sector particularly the neighborhood watch and Vigilante groups are now more active and work in partnership with the police, pointing out that the communities in the area now volunteer information more willingly to the police courtesy of the partnership.
â€œThe biggest judge of police performance is the community that it serves. That is why I am here not only to solicit your continued support but also for you to objectively assess the performance of the police in Ikeja and identify new problem areas that we can jointly tackle using the strategy of community safe partnership which I intend to introduce here today,â€ he stated.
He however, used the occasion to inform the community of the five new patrol vehicles recently allocated Ikeja Division, under the seven cities crime prevention and control scheme of the federal government.
Responding, the Ogunbiyi Community Development Association,Â and Community Development Council Chairman, Ikeja Local GovernmentÂ Oloye Osinubi described the introduction of the community safety partnership as the best thing to have in the market and an initiative that is coming at the right time.
He further assured the police of their preparedness to support the initiative, which he said would put them on a better stead to flush out criminal elements in the area.
On the roadside traders, the CDA Chairman, said punitive measures had already been put in place to discourage people from selling on the street, and promised that the market will soon be crime free.