The Lagos State Police Command, last week, released frightening statistics of crime situation in the State in the past one year and 11 months of this year as well as efforts of the police in checking the rising crime trend in the metropolis. According to the command, 270 people were murdered in different parts of the state while a total of 32 policemen lost their lives in gun duels with armed robbers in the nation’s commercial capital. About 140 robbers were killed by the police in the process.
Reeling off the figures at the 6th Annual Town Hall meeting on security at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Umar Manko, explained that the 32 policemen killed represents an increase of 13 over the 19 killed in gun battle with robbers in the previous year.
Manko also disclosed that 123 robbery incidents were recorded in the last 11 months as against 61 recorded the previous year, thus showing an increase in robbery cases. The police arrested 569 robbery suspects between November 2011 and October 2012 as against 522 recorded in the previous year. Not less than 371 arms and 26,058 ammunition have been recovered this year while 328 arms and 3,553 ammunition were recovered last year.
While 1,187 vehicles were recovered last year, only 954 vehicles have been recovered this year. A total of 1,448 vehicles were stolen in Lagos last year while 1, 263 vehicles have been stolen this year. The police said that they foiled 426 cases of robbery last year and this year alone they have foiled 418 robbery cases. The new crime trend in Lagos, which the police disclosed, include the vandalisation and attack on ATM, car jerking and the menace of commercial motorcycle operators.
While appraising the situation, Police Commissioner Manko said that the command has risen to the challenge by adopting new strategies to combat the menace. However, he decried dearth of funds and logistics which have been hampering their crime bursting efforts. Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State revealed that his government has through the Security Trust Fund (STF) provided logistics valued at N8.7 billion for the police and other security agencies to enable them confront the increasing wave and sophistication of crime in the state. He also condemned the general poor funding of the police by the Federal Government.
The Lagos State crime situation as painted by the police boss is a true reflection of what is on the ground. The scenario calls for more vigilance on the part of the police and other security agencies in the state. Lagos is, indeed, not alone in the rising wave of criminality in the country.
Perhaps, the Lagos picture can be extrapolated to get at the overall national picture of the general insecurity in the land. If the Lagos crime index is anything to go by, then the country has so much crime to combat. Over the years, the Nigeria Police has not lived up to public expectation in both crime prevention and bursting. More often, the criminals have beaten the police to the game.
In many instances, armed robbers carry out their trade unhindered and unmolested while the police only arrive at the scene when the robbers might have robbed and gone with their loot. Apart from the fact that the Nigeria Police is generally ill-trained and ill-equipped, the numerical strength of the police in the country when compared to the population is acutely less.
In fact, Nigeria is critically under-policed hence the criminals are having a field day. Therefore, the issue of recruiting more policemen to augment the extant police strength in the country cannot continue to be ignored. Another debilitating problem against crime fighting is that some unscrupulous elements have found their way into the force and at times are complicit in some of the crimes that are committed by criminals such as high profile kidnapping and in some cases big time robbery.
Besides the burden of numerical strength, the police have to contend with the issue of low morale among their officers and men in relation to crime fighting and control. The force as presently constituted, is not well equipped to tackle the prevailing wave of criminality in the country either logistically or psychologically.