• 1,200 CCTV cameras already mounted and more in the office

By Olasukanmi Akoni

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, top members of his executive counciland some senior journalists, penultimate witnessed  a public demonstration of the use of  1,200 security cameras CCTVs already deployed in Lagos State by the Federal Government.

The security demonstration was carried out with the aid of 27-screen video wall monitors

At the event, the recorded scene of an armed robbery incident at the Murtala Muhhammed International Airport, MMIA, last year was relayed on the video wall.

The gang of dare-devil armed robbers attacked a Bureau de Change, carting away huge sums of  money in both local and foreign currencies. The spell-bound audience  watched the video clips at the Command and Control Centre, Alausa.

Unknown to the armed robbers, security cameras otherwise called CCTV cameras installed at strategic places to monitor activities, clearly captured the robbery operation.

With this, the Police were able to close up on the criminals who were apprehended after some months of painstaking manhunt. The arrested criminals were later paraded before the public and newsmen.

The arrest of these daredevil robbers attest to the relevance of security cameras in monitoring, fighting and tracking down criminal activities in the society, especially in Lagos which is undoubtedly, the most populous state in Nigeria.

In 2009 the State government launched a pilot phase of the CCTV initiative. The solar powered CCTVs were introduced in three locations in the state – Falomo Bridge, Third Mainland Bridge and Eko Bridge. The project, which was aimed at checking the effectiveness of the concept, was adjudged successful.

Thedemonstration of the screen-video monitors was carried out by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Mrs Nike Animashaun, using the Lagos airport scene as a case study.

Ongoing activities at the airport, Agege Motor Road and Oshodi can be monitored through the security cameras. The screen could zoom in on individuals, number plates  and indeed anything.

The Director, Computer Services in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Mr Debola Omoboya, in his presentation took the audience through the emergency telephony demo and how the state had been able to leverage on the emergency telephony infrastructure.

He demonstrated four key services namely, the emergency telephony system, the video surveillance system, the video conferencing system and the e-police system which is based on the call centre located in the Command Centre.

Lagos State Commissioner for Science and Technology, Adebiyi Mabadeje, at the event, said the State Government had concluded arrangements to add another 1,000 security cameras to the existing 1,200.

According to him, security equipments already deployed to the state include 1,000 plus surveillance cameras, 66 base-stations on CDMA technology, microwave links, normal telephony capacity network with 3G data capabilities. He added that the government had concluded plans to purchase 10, 000 additional handsets for use by the police, RRS, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Ambulance and Fire Service, among others.

Already, the cameras have been deployed in critical locations, such as Ikorodu Road, Oshodi, Agege Motor Road and Festac.  He further disclosed that 2,000 handsets had been given to members of the police and Rapid Response Squad, RRS.

A visibly elated Fashola said that his government was planning to expand existing camera and telephony infrastructure to support deployment of the additional cameras to effectively cover the entire state in a bid to make it safe and secure. The Governor was optimistic that with all these security equipments being put in place, there would be no hiding place for criminals in the state any more.

He explained that the demonstration was a follow up to what was started in 2008 when a pilot scheme was located in Lekki in with one camera. The demonstration, he said, was meant to show how far his administration had gone in spite of the many criticisms and doubts cast on the project.

“Now we have moved from a zero camera State to about 1,200 Camera State. How significant that is, some numbers would show us. We are now in a position where we are now on one camera to about 10 sq kilometers, so we are far behind other cities like New York and London, where they range between 200 and 450 cameras per Sq km, but we have moved from zero over 4000 Sq. kilometers and we have reduced that distance significantly. How did we do it, we have merged our cameras with the ones that the Federal Government installed, so we have taken all the feeds in here. We have moved from one small screen that you saw in Lekki to 27 screens that are collapsible in all forms either to one big wall, three screens and so on,” he explained.

“We followed that with house numbering, all of which are still work- in-progress and we realise that now that we could get police to move, but how do we call them? We moved from an 11 digit number to three digit number, 767 or 112 because we did not think people in trauma will remember an 11 digit number easily and how quickly you can contact the police or ambulance is the difference between what practitioners of disaster management call the golden hour,” he said.

Residents react

Reacting to the initiative, Akinloye Badmus, a civil engineer, lauded the governments for making efforts to secure lives and properties of Lagosians. He however called for regular maintenance of the facilities.

“What about the maintenance of those CCTV Cameras, who are those committed to operate and manage the system and the base of the circuit, are they real professionals with tested integrity? he asked.

A  civil servant who identified himself as Abiola Akeem simply retorted: “Nice one. Let’s hope that the National Biometric Database is finally implemented the way it ought to be! Without that, all the CCTV cameras in the world would be an exercise in futility.”

“But, sincerely, I wish the government a successful implementation because we shall be beneficiaries at the end of the day.

Mrs. Ngozi John, a trader, said she is not knowledgeable about the usefulness of CCTV cameras but said from her little understanding, the initiative could only work if there could be rapid response to crime scenes.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.