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Lagos and the new face of policing

Police

By Kierian Enechi

WHEN on August 17,  2018, Citizen Adeniyi Adekunle shared a post on his page on the new electronic social media, it went viral within a short space of time. Obviously,  anyone who had experienced policing in the last several years would welcome this new development as a  breath of fresh air. Good conscience did not allow many Lagos residents to keep quiet on this.

It was A. M. Rosenthal, the famed New York Times columnist and weaver of words who once enthused: ”When something important is going on, silence is a lie”.

Though a seemingly innocuous post, silence became criminal. Consequently, torrents of comments and commendations followed the trial. It was not just because the post was about gentle officers: Zakari, Adeyemi and A. Ameh – there had been several posts about others too. Neither was it on account that the poster sleek had a flat tyre on a treacherous patch along the stretch of the Mainland Bridge in Lagos – such incident is legion.

It was simply this: Rather than the dreaded area shadow men surfacing from behind the hooded railings of the bridge with a lingering nightmarish experience, it was three smartly dressed, fully-kitted and sure-footed police officers who literally materialised behind the motorist from nowhere, to enquire if he was all right and what they could do to help!

Understandably, citizen Adeniyi was at first both shocked and suspicious. The question, ”what is happening?” must have resounded several times within him, leaving a puzzled look on his face. And the other question: “Could this be real?” As though to dash these twin doubts to the dust, the policemen proceeded to quickly help him to change his punctured rear tyre and offered him a sachet of water to wash his hand before urging him to drive on to the mainland.

Yet, such civility and exceptional professionalism in the new Lagos Police Command, structure and operations, was not birthed on top of the bridge on that fateful day. Observably, those virtues now gradually permeated the fabric and nuzzle of the Command’s personnel, spread over the nooks and crannies of the mega city and its environs, starting from early 2017. Lagosians in their various corners are wondering: what lies behind it all?

This new regime of policing is like fresh air for the over 24 million inhabitants of Lagos. Not  too long ago, the Badoo gang of ritual murderers left a long trail of blood, tears, sorrow and devastation in some parts of the state. Lagos could neither sleep with both eyes closed nor could her residents do same, repeatedly in their homes. For a town  such as this, it was like ultimate mayhem was let loose, to wander with silent footsteps under the thick cloak of darkness.

In several instances, entire families were wiped out by those depraved minions of darkness. Babies, children, including pregnant women and the elderly, were not spared these acts of barbarism. The government was visibly perturbed. The police strategised and re-strategised.

And a certain Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), was mandated to confront, contain and cancel this energy of evil, seeking to take over the nights. He mobilised his men and deployed a novel model of community policing; synergising the advantages of lateral collaboration with local vigilantes, cultural vanguards, neighbourhood security corps and integration of DSS and the armed forces to completely reverse the situation and restore normalcy in record time.

That certain DC (Ops) of the back years is now the substantive Lagos State Commissioner of Police.

As a young solicitor kick-starting a working life in Lagos some 29 years ago, one can understand the hues and tones of Eko’s multicultural populace. What it has been, what it is now, and what lies behind it. Definitely, the people of Lagos understand Lagos, including what Lagos  carries in its belly at any point in time.

Available statistics as confirmed by informed security specialists reveal that the crime rate in Lagos has taken a steep downward dive by more than 55 per cent. This enabled Lagosians to once again regain the modest luxury of silent nights and glorious days, on account of excellent crime control measures put in place by coherent intelligent policing this past one year and some months. Presently, people only remember, very faintly, the heavy hands of the degenerated kidnappers and their business-like organised gangs. The same for the cells of armed robbers and their brazen daylight shoot-outs with security forces. And indeed, the alarming practices of ritualists and cultists – all of whom are now perpetually on the run and living in various disguise in far flung states; with operatives of the Lagos State Police Command quietly hounding them for acts they thought have been buried with the passage of time.

With effective, intelligent policing and coherent strategies for making both his men and materials fall in line, someone obviously has rewritten the police slogan in the minds of countless Lagosians. POLICE IS YOUR FRIEND now has, perhaps on the account of its sheer size, solutions that work in Lagos, excellently sailed through in other states and at the federal level. Therefore, like good governance, the state is set yet again to export workable models of effective intelligence policing for large populations and huge land mass.

Though one has never met this friendly cop with decisive strides, but it will be safe to say that he may not be exactly comfortable with compliments – being a thoroughbred professional, as shown from different accounts. But the collective wishes of all that loved, liked, shared and commented on citizen Adeniyi’s post in August is for Edgal Imohimi to please step forward and take a bow- for these things that are happening before our very eyes. It is obvious that someone, somewhere, somehow, is getting it right regarding security concerns of Lagos.

Otherwise, our silence will admittedly be a lie.

*Mr. Enechi, a legal practitioneer, wrote from Lagos.

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