On Monday, March 27, 2017, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, launched the rebranded Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps, with a pledge to foster community policing and crime control at the municipal level and ensure that the security of lives and property in the State
The Governor readily provided a total of 177 salon cars and vehicles equipped with communication gadgets, 377 motorcycles, 377 helmets, 4,000 bicycles, metal detectors for ensuring that illegal weapons are not smuggled into public places, among other operational equipment were handed over to the Corps by the governor.
According to Governor Ambode, “the move was another giant step towards enhancing security all over the State and a vital part of the ongoing efforts of his administration to reform the security and justice sector”
City People visited the Isheri Olowora office, where the resolute and articulate Abioye Olayinka. A (Lagos Neighborhood Safety Corps) spoke extensively on the success of LNSC so far and the challenges.
According to him;
The members of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps are well trained in seeking “peaceful resolution of conflicts, proactive policing engagement as against reactive policing, dispute mediation, skillful negotiations and other skills that would assist in curbing crime and nipping in the bud the activities of criminally-minded individuals”, he stated.
Some of the areas where you can score the level of our legitimate acceptability and recognition is through the hoodlums; people who commits these crimes within the community; once they see our van, they take off. With our structured mechanism and police cooperation, we usually get them arrested and bring them to book.
He also raised the case of rape which occurred around Ogba and how the culprit were all apprehended and brought to book.
There was this case recently when we apprehended 3 men who gang-raped a teenage school girl. The youngest of the three criminals was 24 and the others were 26 and 28. We arrested them and refer them to the task force office in Oshodi, where they were given the deserved justice on the crime they committed.
“There was another case when GTBank called us and reported some hoodlums who usually hang around the ATM spots to monitor those who come to make withdrawals. After our investigation, we found out these criminals usually trace their victims from the ATM point to their homes. They will reinforce and later go to their houses to rob them.
“We apprehended four criminals in this category and take them down to Isheri police station and were later handed over to Oshodi task force as well’, he added.
To sample the position of the PRO, City People took to the streets of Lagos to ascertain the impression of the people on the new community policing platform vis-à-vis what they were enacted to deliver.
The LNSC routine is basically working as community police, they serve as medium between the local community and the Police. The corps by reason of purpose is closer to the people. The officers designated to respective nooks and crannies of all Lagos communities are those who are familiar with almost all the residents of their community. They know the tendencies of almost every individual in the community and are quick to identify new faces once they see them.
Just as every other security structure, the LNSC has segmented departments that work collectively to ensure optimal delivery of a safe community.
The LNSC works in synergy with the Police to carry out wholesale community policing. According to Ajieh Ngozi, a marketer and a resident of Isheri Olowora who monitors the activities of the officers, the agency works three shifts.
“Some of the officers come around as early as 6am and work until 2pm, I also noticed another set of officers from 2pm who will be on patrol until around 10pm. The third shift usually patrol within the street with some Policemen. I notice those officers who work at night usually do so with the cooperation of the Police’, he said.
Idayat Okunnubi, a hairdresser in Ogba commended the effort of Gov. Ambode whose initiative ushered in the Neighbourhood corps and the credible orientation of the recruited officers who has so far performed beyond expected capability. She added that this initiative should have existed long before now as crime rate in Ogba has drastically reduced.
She added, “Almost everyone is used to the alarm triggered by the LNSC officers once there is any form of security threat. These guys are everywhere and I love the way they have been complimenting the effort of the Police.”
The 2015 report on disaster management provided by Urban Express holds that the ratio of available Police vis-à-vis the civilians are 1:650. The LNSC has detailed information about their designated areas of operation such as the number of wards, the phone numbers of Baales the contacts of all the chiefs and Landlord association leaders’ contacts, the number of schools and Hotels.
An official of the LNSC who pleaded anonymity also commended the Governor for his dogged commitment to safety and security in Lagos. He expressly stated that every officers with the LNSC were adequately trained in their designated areas.
He also thanked the governor for providing facilities to enable optimal delivery of the officers;
“Governor Ambode made provision for almost everything we requested to operate. Aside from the Patrol Vans and safety gadgets, he also provided bicycles for every ward for inter-street patrol and sensitization purpose. He made our work so interesting and stress-free”.
Olufidipe Dapo, a banker, and resident of Baruwa Ipaja also commended the synergy that exists between LNSC and community leaders. According to him, he noticed that there have been regular meetings between the corps members and the community leaders to appraise their delivery and also deliberate on any identified flaws and the need to cover any porous areas.
In the area of public donation, the agency through one of its officer reiterated that Lagos state is capable of providing whatever the agency needs.
We always make it known to our people that our service is FREE. We don’t solicit for a fund or any form of assistance from anyone. Whenever LNSC needs anything, we table it before the Coordinating officer who controls the entire Local government; his name is Afeez Akere Adewunmi.
I can also state that there has never been any time, that we need anything from the state, which we don’t get within weeks. Governor Ambode runs LNSC with absolute dedication and thus, expects us to deliver without slacks.
In Lagos state, there are 5 division; Epe, Ikeja, Ikorodu, Badagry, and Lagos Island divisions which comprises of local governments.
However, there are some members of these communities who appreciate the effort of the LNSC and chose to support them within legal and transparent capacity.
An example as stated by an anonymous officer is a renowned philanthropist, Alhaji Agbedina who has over the months donated selflessly to foster efficient service.
Some of the challenges faced by the Agency from inception is recognition and acceptability. The LNSC is a new innovation the communities are not used to and so the officers were not totally accepted.
Mrs. Ojediran, a market woman residing in Egbeda said her people used to call them “Olopa Ambode” (Ambode’s Policemen) in the misconception that Ambode formed the Agency for confidential reasons.
She, however, added that the officers now enjoy full cooperation and acceptability in Egbeda after a series of crime control records and sensitization.
“In fact, we prefer the LNSC to handle domestic cases to the Police in Egbeda area.”
Highlighting the for LNSC, and urban planner and environmentalist, Olusegun Ariyo carefully highlighted the following obvious benefits…
1. The Security of Lives and Property is Non-Negotiable
The Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps was formed not to take over the duties of the Nigeria Police Force but to stop the over-reliance on the Police to ensure the security of lives and properties which is the paramount responsibility of any government to the citizens. The LNSC has been designed to provide a second layer of policing in order to ensure that the state and communities are more secure.
2. Job Creation
Job creation is at the heart of economic prosperity and the Lagos state government have proven over time that they remain fully committed to a more prosperous Lagos for the citizens. The creation of Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps will once again ensure that thousands of unemployed Lagosians become gainfully employed
3. Protection on Properties and Infrastructures
The Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps will also ensure that the incident of destruction of public property and infrastructures is brought to its barest minimum while also ensuring that culprits are brought to book.
4. Prompt Assistance to Accident Victims
Though there is a Federal agency saddled with the duty of prompt assistance to accident victims, having a group charged with this duty within the state is not so much. This should in no way whatsoever hinder the activities of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
5. Crime Detection and Intelligence
The Neighbourhood Corps have been trained and equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills to complement the good work of the Nigerian Police. They have also been saddled with the responsibility of disarming unauthorized persons in possession of arms and other dangerous weapons, gathering and making available intelligence security report to relevant authorities, a timely report of suspicious activities, crimes in progress, and crime suspects among other things.
6. Maintenance of Peace within Communities
The maintenance of peace within communities is another responsibility of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps. The LNSC will provide relevant grass root information that will enhance the understanding of the Police on how to be effective within the community; encourage harmony and peaceful coexistence within the community.