Lagos recorded its first case of coronavirus on Thursday, 27th Feb. 2020, with the visit of an Italian business traveller who returned to Lagos from Italy and travelled to Ogun State. Thereafter, Lagos had recorded 689 cases of COVID-19 and a total of 1182 in Nigeria as at Saturday, 25th April 2020. So far how far has the State Commissioner for Health curtailed coronavirus with Lagos having the highest number of recorded cases in Nigeria.
Lagos State Governor, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu with the support of the state Commissioner for Health Prof. Akinola Abayomi without any iota of doubt are trying their best to contain COVID-19, through the creation of isolation centres, supply of testing kits, provision of palliatives to some residents, initiation of lockdown and subsequent extension by President Muhammadu Buhari.
As the authorities are busy with curtailing the novel coronavirus pandemic, criminals are quick to use the opportunity to engage in criminal activities, such as looting, bloodshed and assault. Hoodlums and criminal gangs now unleash mindless violence in a coordinated manner as a result of loose security structure in the state.
Residents in the border communities, like Abule-Egba, Meiran, Akute, Ayobo, Agbado, Mowe were the first victims to experience criminal attacks before it spread to the metropolis. In this period of severe socio-economic uncertainty, criminal activities will no doubt make survival difficult for their victims.
On Wednesday, 15th April 2020, robbers invaded Anthony Village and Iju in Lagos. Kudos to the vigilantes who resisted them, yet they vandalised vehicles and terrorised residents.
On the same day, a clash between rival gangs in Ipaja, Lagos leads to the death of a resident. In Ago, Surulere, Isolo, Ojota, Meiran, Ogudu and Ketu areas of the state, criminals wrote insolent letters in which they threatened to return in full force.
Sadly, the police commands in Lagos are treating the increase in criminal activities lightly. Despite the loud complaints from the victims, who had established vigilance units and made bonfires to hunt the attackers, the State commissioner of police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, denied the situation.
Respite came when 130 suspects were paraded and 15 locally-made guns, 52 live cartridges, 42 cutlasses and axes were recovered from the hoodlums.
Thanks to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who ordered special police teams of the Police Mobile Force, Special Tactical Squad and Intelligence Response Team to strengthen security in the state.
Nigeria Police Force should have foreseen an increase in crime during the lockdown. This is the time security measures need to be fortified because criminals will surely develop new ways of victimizing helpless citizens.
In a chat with a peace and conflict resolution expert, Mr. Charles Okon, who analysed the security measures that ought to be taken immediately the lockdown was announced; he said all the State commands should have intensified it’s use of motorized patrol, engaged in community policing and encouraged religious organisations to install CCTV in their premises.
Charles said “This is the right time all Police commands in Lagos State are expected to engage in intensive motorized patrol, intelligence-led policing and the deployment of technology to curb criminal activities. Patrol cars should be stationed at strategic points on a 24-hour basis. The police should make use of the lockdown-induced traffic-free roads to respond rapidly to emergencies day and night.
“Government agencies, shopping complexes, communities, business organisation, churches and mosques supposed to have installed CCTV cameras on their premises, this would help the security agencies to easily identify hoodlums looting shops and robbing people in the neighbourhoods.”
By Ife Adewole