Town Hall Meeting On Security: Fashola Urges Proactive Steps Against Criminals
• "If you attack our citizens, we will relentlessly hunt, arrest and bring you to justice", Governor warns
Dec 4, 2012 - The 6th Annual Town Hall Meeting on Security in Lagos was held Tuesday with the State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) urging all stakeholders to work ahead of the criminals as a way to nip their crimes in the bud even as he warned the underworld elements that his administration would continually hunt, arrest and bring them to justice each time they attack innocents citizens.
In his keynote address at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island venue of the Meeting with the theme, "Growing our investment in security", Governor Fashola, who noted that criminals are continually improving on their methodology, urged, "We must endeavour to be ahead of the criminals always. This is the only way to curb their activities".
According to the Governor, the only way to do this is to continually provide and improve on the equipment used by the security agents "who, on a daily basis, stick out their lives on our behalf to confront the criminals and hunt them down, paying the supreme price sometimes in the process".
Recalling that before the creation of the State's Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), the police and other security agencies in the State were crippled by lack of basic tools to carry out their responsibilities thereby making the State vulnerable to constant criminal attacks, Governor Fashola expressed joy that the fund has, over the years helped to improve the security of the State.
"Together we have provided, through the Fund, equipment and logistics valued at N8.7 billion for the Police and other security agencies in our dear State", Governor Fashola said adding that the commitment to and achievement of the Government and people of the State in the area of security has made the State's security model a standard to other states in the country.
Improved security, the Governor noted, has also attracted a lot of investments, both foreign and local, such as hotels and internationally franchised fast food chains, chain stores and cinemas all over the State while night life has returned fully attracting superstars in both music and sports to stage performances in the State.
"These would not have happened without the perception of improved security in Lagos State. They have all given our State very high international prominence and we must continue to protect that status", the Governor said, expressing regrets that the situation has also created its own security challenges.
Governor Fashola noted that the history of the Lagos State, her inclusiveness and liberal policies as well as her location have made her "a mother State" with a population of over 20 million in a country of an estimated 160 million people adding, "We are also surrounded by neighbouring States that rely on our economy for their own development. This advantage comes at a price".
"The analysis of suspects arrested for criminal acts have revealed that majority of the crimes are committed by people from other parts of the country, non-residents who come into Lagos to rob, kidnap and then flee back into their hideouts outside the State to share their loot and plot anew", the Governor said.
Rendering statistics of such criminals who have so far been arrested, Governor Fashola said some of those who have relocated to Lagos in recent times to escape the spate of terrorism in their own States have demonstrated evil intents by indulging in criminal activities in the State.
The Governor expressed dismay that the Federal Government has so far remained aloof since the establishment of the Trust Fund, providing less than 30 patrol vehicles to security agencies in the State during the period adding that the relocation of the Federal Government to Abuja has also created a security challenge for the State Government as criminals have taken over abandoned Federal Government building from where they attack innocent citizens.
"While it is fair to acknowledge the receipt of 11 patrol boats, it bears stating that the Federal Government does not seem to think that police require other equipment such as a sufficient number of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), walkie-talkies, communication masts, repeater stations and motorbikes even though security is constitutionally its exclusive preserve", the Governor said.
Governor Fashola paid glowing tribute to some members of the LSSTF who lost their lives while confronting armed robbers, saying the sacrifice they made to secure the State from those with criminal intends would always stand as a worthy legacy for which they would be remembered.
Recounting some of the exploits and acts of bravery by the members of the Joint Task Force and the Rapid Response Squad, especially in recent times, the Governor announced that members of the gang which broke into the house of one of the members of the State Security Council has have been rounded up.
On the amount of fund required to continue to support the initiative, Governor Fashola said the only way to make estimation was to understand the enormity of the security challenge faced by the State pointing out that with 9,000 roads in the State, if every road should get one patrol van at N5 million per van and each van taking 20 litres of fuel per day at N97 per litre, the 9,000 vans would require N17.5 million per day for fuel per day oe N523.8 million per month or N6.3 billion per year.
He however expressed pride that the partnership between his administration and the private sector is growing continuously adding, "Since our last town-hall meeting, we have had many more corporate organisations and individuals join the role of honour as donors or should I say investors".
The Governor stressed the need for continued support of the Fund saying aside healthcare, "the only truly 24/7 operational structure in the public service space is security and law enforcement". "This means that there is great stress on both men and equipment and because of the nature of violent crime, the rate of attrition is higher", he said.
He said as a Government, his administration would continue to lead by example by playing the in the battle to secure the State by way of resource provision and direction., adding, "We are not afraid to take the tough decisions that will ensure a better and safer Lagos as we have demonstrated with the passing of the Road Traffic Law. We will continue to do this in our collective interest".
Urging all to remain safety and security conscious especially in the Christmas and New Year season, Governor Fashola concluded, "We will remain resolute in our quest for greater security and we urge you all as worthy partners not to relent in your contributions to our common cause".
Rendering the Financial Report of the LSSTF in the last one year, its Executive Secretary, Mr. Arthur Worrey, who described the year 2012 as a very busy year for security agencies, disclosed that the Fund spent N467, 953,000 million as against N249,302,000 last year adding that the increase in donations helped the Fund to meet most of the security requirements for the year.
He said the security challenges of the State has, however, increased due to forced dislocation of people from many parts of the country who have migrated into the State to take refuge adding, "The problem, however, is that not all of these migrants are good citizens.
Also while rendering the security report of the State in the last one year, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Manko said the Police made tremendous progress in the battle to secure the State from criminals listing the various incidents when direct interventions of the security agencies across the State resulted in the arrest of criminals and seizure of arms.
The Police Commissioner also listed the equipment supplied to the Police by the LSSTF during the year adding that the members of the public have been of tremendous help to the Police by providing useful information without which, according to him, the work of the Police would be made difficult.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, the Chairman of the LSSTF, Mr. Remi Makanjuola, said the Fund "is the only assurance that we will continue to keep in place a system which can respond to local needs and over which we can, through the Trust Fund, exercise a measure of ownership and ensure some measure of accountability".
Highlight of the occasion was the giving of various awards to both next of kin of policemen who lost their lives while confronting armed robbers and members of the Special Anti-robbery Squad.
The deceased police men who were given Bravery Awards at the occasion included Corporal Gift Obuowon and Spy Police Corporal Ifolaja Ayoola. Inspector Adekoya Jamiu, who survived the wounds he received as a result of the confrontation with armed robbers, was also rewarded at the occasion, while members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad were given Awards for Gallantry.
Present at the occasion were members of the State Executive Council including Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs Sola Oworu and her Tourism and Culture counterpart, Mr. Oyinlola Danmole, members of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund including the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaiye, members of the State House of Assembly, traditional rulers including the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu 1 and the Akran of Badagry as well as Local Government Chairmen, Captains of industry ,representatives of corporate organizations and other stakeholders and top government functionaries.