Lagosians have asked the State Government to take decisive actions on some security issues to rein in what they describe as a disturbing trend.
Among others, they demanded action against what many described as the menace of commercial motorcycles, otherwise known as okada, kidnapping, armed robbery, cult clashes and violent assaults.
It was all at a Stakeholders’ Meeting on Security held at the Adeyemi Bero Hall, Alausa, Ikeja where Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and leading lights in security circles listened to a group of panelists who highlighted the state’s security challenges.
In the audience were religious leaders, the Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba, military chiefs, traditional leaders, community leaders, students, unionists and members of the State Executive Council.
Sanwo-Olu listed his administration’s efforts in security and assured his audience that a decisive action would be taken on commercial motorcycles, which speaker after speaker described as a getaway means for criminals. Its operators, they said, are unruly, uncouth, rude and brutal.
But those who patronize them and the motorcyclists will not be left in the cold.
The government’ Sanwo-Olu said, will be inaugurating next week the first and last mile buses, which will ply the routes the motorcycles are plying.
Besides, those who have taken up okada riding for lack of jobs were advised to grab the opportunities in agriculture, wealth creation, poverty alleviation and other government programmes.
Sanwo-Olu said the meeting was convened in response to the growing threat posed by some lawless activities to the safety and security of lives in the State.
The governor said the string of lawlessness daily witnessed from the confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies required an urgent action, stressing that the Government would be announcing reforms in transportation, which will further make changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operatons.
He said: “We have noted with dismay the fact that Okada riders are disregarding and flouting the restrictions we imposed on their activities in certain areas of the metropolis. We have also observed with dismay, the ongoing violent confrontation by commercial motorcyclists against our law enforcement agencies.
“Based on all that we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threat posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives, we will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the State in the coming days. No society can make progress amid such haughty display of lawlessness and criminality.”
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government would be unveiling 500 units of First and Last Mile mini buses next week as safer alternative means of transportation in checkmating activities of Okada riders.
The Governor also made it known that the Government would fully implement the State’s Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law of 2019 as amended, which will enable the Government take over and demolish abandoned buildings and construction sites turned into safe haven for hoodlums and miscreants.
He added that the State would strengthen its clean-up exercise of shanties and spots unapproved for settlement, but which had turned to hideouts for criminals.
The State Government, Sanwo-Olu said, would be recruiting more personnel into the Lagos State Neighbourhood Corps (LSNC) to boost intelligence gathering at the community level.
The Governor said the consultative meeting with the stakeholders was necessary to make the State’s security strategy effective and sustainable, noting that all hands must be on deck to work with the Government in collecting, sharing and evaluating credible intelligence that would strengthen security of lives and property in Lagos.
He said: “Lagos must continue to enjoy an atmosphere of peace, safety and all-encompassing security. We are determined to arrest the current security challenges being faced in the State, and we will take every step necessary to deliver on our promises on a safe, secure and livable state. We will also continue to communicate regularly with key stakeholders, and all the residents for updates on the progress we are making.”
Appraising security situation in Lagos, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, raised the alarm over rising security breaches resulting from the menace of Okada operations in the State.
Between January and early this month, Odumosu disclosed, 320 commercial motorcycles were arrested in 218 cases of criminal incidents in which 78 suspects were detained and 480 ammunition recovered.
In the same period, the Lagos police boss said Okada accounted for 83 per cent of 385 cases of avoidable fatal vehicular accidents in Lagos.
He said: “The menace of Okada operators does not end with avoidable accidents. Crime reports from the field have shown that a greater percentage of crimes, ranging from armed robbery, cultism, kidnapping, murder, burglary and stealing, traffic robbery to carjacking and cash snatching from bank customers, are attributable to armed hoodlums who operate on Okada.
“The nuisance constituted by the Okada operators on Lagos roads has become a danger to law abiding citizens. Sections of Lagos populace have come to regard commercial motorcycles as a necessary evil, it has become imperative for Government to take more drastic measures against their notoriety.”
“The State Police Command strongly advises the State Government is to immediately review the current guidelines guiding the operation of Okada as a means of commercial transportation in the State and take decisive legal and administrative steps and policies that will curb their traffic, criminal and other nefarious activities in the State.”
There was a panel of discussion chaired by an award-winning Television Show host, Babajide Kolade-Otitoju, in which residents aired their views on the current state of security in Lagos and across the country.
The discussants expressed concerns on the security implications of allowing operations of Okada and demanded a ‘Special Status’ for Lagos as ethnic melting pot. They also urged the Government to create economic opportunities and vocational engagement for unemployed residents to further lessen crime rates.
Addressing the complaints about criminals hiding in uncompleted buildings and abandoned vehicles within communities, Vice Chairman of Lagos State Community Development Advisory Council, Mr. Rotimi Ayoku-Owolawi, said the CDC was ready to support the Government and the police in identifying dark spots and lock-up markets from where criminals launch their nefarious activities.
Commissioner for Information Mr. Gbenga Omotoso described the stakeholders’ engagement as proactive, given a string of security breaches in the country.
He said gone were the days when citizens were at the mercy of pick pockets and amateur criminals; the contemporary crimes, he said, are being committed by armed robbers, bloodsucking bandits and daredevil gangsters.
“We don’t want our Lagos to become an epicenter of evil and criminality,” Omotoso said.
At the end of the stakeholders’ meeting, a 12-point resolution was reached and agreed upon by the participants in public interest.
STAKEHOLDERS MEETING ON SECURITY HELD AT ADEYEMI BERO AUDITORIUM ON MONDAY, 10TH MAY, 2021.
1.1 In order for the Greater Lagos Dream to be realized and in view of rising insecurity in the Nation, the Lagos State Government organized a One-Day Stakeholders Security Meeting to deliberate on the 6TH Pillar of the Administration (i.e Security and Governance).
1.2 The meeting had in attendance, Mr. Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, dignitaries from across the divide including the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Chief Judge, members of the State Executive Council, members of the Body of Permanent Secretaries, Commissioner of Police and all Service Chiefs, Local Government Chairmen, Royal Fathers, Spiritual Fathers, Organised Labour Union Leaders, Civil Societies Organisations and other top Functionaries in the State.
1.3 The One-day Retreat ended after intensive deliberations which centered on Presentations by CP Odumosu, Lagos Police Commissioner and Prof. Babajide Alo of the University of Lagos on Security Challenges in Lagos State and General Security Challenges (Citizens Perspective) respectively.
1.4 Also, a Panel of Discussants made up of representatives of Royal Fathers, Spiritual Leaders, Local Government Chairmen, Youth Organisations, Labour Unions, Organized Civil Societies and Communities Development Committees/ CDAs moderated by Veteran Journalist Mr. Babajide Kolade Otitoju.
2.1 Stakeholders noted the timeliness of the meeting and expressed deep appreciation to Mr. Governor for his proactive strides.
2.2 Discussants agreed that there is an expeditious need to address the state of insecurity in Lagos State. It was also noted that the menace of Motor Cycle Taxi Operators aka Okada Riders has become quite alarming especially after the #EndSars Crisis in October, 2020, thereby constituting security threats to citizens in the State; particularly, Okada Riders perpetuate crimes, disregard traffic and highway laws, traumatize Motorists, aid and abet criminal activities such as carjacking, conveying arms, kidnaping, cultism and espionage activities on security Agencies etc.
2.3 The avoidable loss of lives and properties due to the menace of Okada Riders was also noted. Okada Riders featured in 218 serious crimes between January and April this year.
2.4 Discussants also noted that Shanties, Uncompleted and Abandoned Buildings, Undeveloped Plots of Land, Hotels have become homes to hoodlums, Cultists, Armed Robbers and other criminals. Abandoned Vehicles are also used to store arms and ammunition.
2.5 The continued Industrial Action by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) was also identified as affecting the adjudication of criminal justice in the State. Also, religious intolerance and inter/intra Union fracas were identified as contributory factors to insecurity in Lagos State.
2.6 Additionally, the issue of Deficit of Trust between Citizens and Law Enforcement Agencies was identified as a bane of effective security in the State.
Stakeholders agreed that the State Government should:
I. Takeover Abandoned /Uncompleted Buildings in the State immediately;
II. Take control of abandoned vehicles in the nooks and crannies of the State;
III. Seal-off/Takeover Houses, Hotels and Events Centres where Hoodlums are found to hibernate or where arms are stored;
IV. Locate and give ultimatum to Owners of undeveloped plots of land to build within a specified period, failing which such lands shall be forfeited to Government in overriding Public Interest;
V. Demolition of all shanties and illegal structures in the State;
VI. Fast track judicial processes to ensure prosecution of criminals and sentencing if found guilty;
VII. Take stringent measures to BAN the use of Okada as means of transportation in the State; urging that alternatives provided by the State Government in Agriculture, Wealth Creation, Women Affairs Empowerment programs and others should be accessed;
VIII. Panelists enjoined the citizenry to adopt the mantra ‘when you see something, say something’. Citizens are to join forces with the Government in combating crime and criminality in the State;
IX. Attacks on Law Enforcement Officers/ Agencies should not be handled with kid gloves. Any culprit arrested should be prosecuted and the full weight of the law brought to bear on such persons;
X. Participants agreed on the need to deploy appropriate cutting edge Technologies (Streetlights, CCTV, Drones) to fight crime and strengthen security in an emerging Smart City such as Lagos;
XI. The inaugurated Committee on Community Policing to meet so as to fashion out a Road map for community collaboration in security; and
XII. Traditional Rulers and Institutions should be more involved in intelligence gathering and security of their domain across the State.
Stakeholders committed to approaching their everyday responsibility guided by the mantra of Leadership, Accountability, Good Governance, Opportunity & Service (LAGOS). It was noted that security is the responsibility of all while emphasizing that Lagos should be accorded a Special Status.
Participants concluded that Citizens should continue to pray for our Country, Our Leaders and the Peace, Tranquility and security of Lagos State.
Lagos State Government
10th May, 2021
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