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United Bank for Africa

Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Wednesday urged security agencies to take practical steps to be ahead of criminal elements and build on the successes recorded so far in making the state the most secure and prosperous commercial location in Africa.

Ambode spoke at the 12th Annual Town Hall Meeting on security organised by the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) in Lagos.

The governor said that though the security agencies deserved commendation for their efforts in securing the state, more strategies and policies had to be adopted to outsmart hoodlums, especially during the Yuletide season.

He also said they need to beef up security ahead of the general elections in 2019.

Ambode said in the last few years, a lot of investment had been made in securing the state which had paid off, but more investment was needed to enhance the security architecture.

He said: “Has our investment paid off? I would say yes it has. Have we really invested enough in terms of security? The answer is no and the truth is it can never be enough and so it is not a matter of we are getting there, but it is an everyday thing.

“As long as we want to go out in the night, as long as we want to enjoy Christmas and have night out, these other good guys, men of the underworld, are thinking about us.

“So we have to be two steps ahead of them all the time in terms of strategy and reforms we need to make.

“Obviously, we need to think about how to outsmart them, and believe me, this is their season and so we need to smart up and be vigilant, and that is the message because they are not going to relent.

“Again, election is coming and they can be easy tools; so we need to outsmart them.”

Ambode said that more investment would have to be made in security, especially in the area of technology.

He assured that his administration would continue to do this, while also expressing optimism in the ability of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to sustain the policy.

Responding to issues raised by participants at the meeting, especially on the increase in number of beggars on the road with attendant security risk, Ambode said government was already perfecting plans to set up a Special Task Force.

He said that the special task force would consist of plain cloth personnel to prevent security breach.

The governor said that the government would also explore collaboration between the police and the judiciary, to expeditiously deal with the menace posed by street urchins (area boys) and hoodlums.

He said that this was necessary in the larger interest of the state, while also directing the Neighbourhood Safety Corps to extend their activities deep into the communities across the state to enhance security.

While appreciating donors who contributed to the security architecture of the state, Ambode said it was important for more emphasis to be placed on enforcement.

He said that the people must also endeavor to give out information to security agencies promptly.

“I want to say a big thank you to all those who have made Lagos very peaceful. The most important part of this assignment is to make sure that Lagos continues to be safe.

“Making Lagos safe technically means we are growing the GDP of Lagos, because once the city is safe, we can increase production.

“More people will pay their taxes and then we can use the money to improve on infrastructure; and then the city grows and people live a more comfortable life.

“We must continue to lay emphasis on enforcement and we continue to make sure that the things that we are doing are correct.

“I can promise the people that with everything that we have, we will make sure that we have a very good end of the year and ensure that Lagos remains very peaceful.

In his presentation, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr Imohimi Edgal, commended Gov. Ambode for his massive investment and commitment to security of lives and property.

Edgal said that the achievements recorded by the command were largely due to the support of the state government.

He said that in tackling the security threats from the creeks, the governor recently approved the procurement of six additional gunboats to effectively police the waterways, among other interventions by the state government.

On crime statistics in the state from November 2017 to September 2018, the CP said 233 robbery incidents were foiled by the police in the last one year, while 701 arms and ammunition were recovered, with nine kidnappers arrested.

Edgal said 669 cult members were arrested in various parts of the state, while 290 armed robbers were arrested and 15 died during encounters with the police.

He said a total of 186 murder cases and 43 suicide and attempted suicide cases were recorded.

The CP said that one police officer was lost during the period under review.