Lagos State has made great strides in security since it established its security trust fund in 2007. Brazen robbery, car snatching and other violent crimes have reduced as a result. Unfortunately, the Ikorodu area of the state is an island of insecurity. The fragile security architecture in Ikorodu was underlined again in January when assailants from Badoo, a neighbourhood gang (or cultists in local parlance), murdered KoredeAdeyanju, a fresh University of florin graduate, in his home. His untimely death is a vivid reminder of the pervasive insecurity in that community. It is high time Governor AkinwunmiAmbode and the police put the criminals there in their proper place.
Compared to other parts of Lagos – Ikoyi, Lekki, Ikeja, Surulere and Yaba – Ikorodu seems to be an ungoverned territory controlled by underworld kingpins. Here, rape and murder intertwine. Last June, Grace Jubreel was sexually violated and butchered. A five-year-old pupil of Methodist Primary School, Ibeshe, where Jubreel taught, was killed by the rampaging gangsters. A week after, an octogenarian, LawuJimoh, nearly died from a rape attack. Shortly after, a 60-year-old woman suffered sexual abuse in the presence of her 10-year- old granddaughter, whose jaw was shattered in the melee that ensued.
Crime booms in Ikorodu because the government is disconnected with the happenings there. But street gangs scar the society. Ambode needs to get tough on criminals in Ikorodu. The state government and police should have a panoramic security strategy to cover the entire state because the city centre and other areas of the state are not immune from the criminality oozing out from there. This entails having well-equipped police stations, manned by Special squads, versed in deploying technology to combat crime.
Although the police do make some arrests, sexual assaults persist. Not even minors are spared, as the case of two little girls showed. One was abducted in a church, defiled and left for dead; the other was sexually brutalised and requires recto virginal and leg surgery to live a normal life again. A pregnant woman, AfusatKazeem, was also entombed in the rape maelstrom. She later died. Her two daughters suffered severe injuries from the attack. This is quite disturbing.
The police seem powerless, which is a mystery. In June 2015, a gang of 20 robbers led by a lady descended on four banks at about 8.30am. Two of the banks were next-door neighbours of the Ipakodo Police Station. Ikorodu is especially vulnerable because it is surrounded by water. Bank robbers usually escape through the waterways. Similarly, the kidnappers that invaded Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School, Ikorodu, last March, disappeared with their captives through the creeks.
Normally, the state ought to have a monopoly of force. But crime thrives when offenders are not punished. In September, residents trooped out to protest against the cases of missing persons in the community, following their abduction by suspected militants. In 2014, militants abducted two police officers attached to the Owutu Police Station.
Because they are unrestrained, they have spread their evil tentacles to neighbouringArepo, Ogun State, where, in 2015, they killed nine Department of State Services operatives. As a result of all this, many locals are relocating from Ikorodu. Assurances by the police and government so far are empty rhetoric in the face of unrelenting violence. The life of an actress, Aisha Alli-Balogun, was claimed in December. Her two-year- old daughter, Faridah, was only rescued from the den of kidnappers a few days after ransom was paid.
Since Ikorodu is delimited by surrounding water, the Federal Government and Lagos should enlist the Nigerian Navy to conduct operations that will flush out the hoodlums there. There is the over-arching need for marine policing along the creeks there. Militants and oil pipeline vandals hide in Ikorodu and Arepo creeks, and emerge at will to cause mayhem. When their attacks spiraled last year, it took bombings by the Nigerian Air Force to repel them. Sadly, they are back in business.
Ambode should, therefore, mobilise the security agencies to bring mobsters under control. To stay a step ahead of the hoodlums, the police ought to adopt new strategies. These include infiltration of the crime gangs, use of Closed Circuit Television cameras, call monitoring, mapping, profiling of suspicious people, and deployment of Global Positioning System trackers. This equipment monitors the movement of criminals.
Faced with escalating crime a while ago, London has introduced new measures. Apart from successfully infiltrating London gangs, it also trialled “hotspots policing, in which spots prone to crime in the city are targeted by law enforcement officers at regular intervals. The police command in Lagos should adapt this method to suit the Ikorodu situation. The state Police Commissioner, FataiOwoseni, should work out new ways to rein in the criminals.
The governor’s legacy in this critical social construct depends on the political will to bring criminals to justice: there is evidence that a reduction in crime is predicated on an elevated perceived risk of apprehension, according to a study. London discovered in the wake of the 2011 riots that the swift sentencing of 1,000 offenders reduced crime in the English capital. Ambode should give full expression to community policing. Motorised patrols have to be institutionalised in Ikorodu and every other part of Lagos. The Lagos State Government should demonstrate to these felons that crime does not pay.
-THE PUNCH EDITORIAL
January 31, 2017