Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday said that the fight against crime and all forms of criminality would be better enhanced if efforts are geared towards embracing community policing to complement the police and other law enforcement agencies.
Governor Ambode, who stated this at the swearing-in ceremony of the Chairman and members of the Board of the State’s Neighbourhood Safety Corp Agency, said community policing was needed to assist law enforcement agencies which, according to him, are already over stretched judging by the enormous task of securing the country.
Speaking at the ceremony held at Lagos House in Ikeja, Governor Ambode said right from the onset, the major thrust of his administration has always been the security of lives and properties of Lagosians, adding that the Neighborhood Agency, which was an initiative aimed at safe guarding the communities through community policing, was another testimony of the commitment of the State Government to the safety of lives and properties and a demonstration of a promise kept to all citizens.
The Governor recalled the provision of security at the State level with the massive provision of equipment such as patrol vehicles, motor bikes, boats and helicopter on several occasions to police and other security agencies, saying that such had aided law enforcement outfits in the State in effectively discharging their duties.
“You will agree with me that the Police and indeed all other security forces within the State and even the country at large are quite stretched, and some form of “community” or “local policing” is required to boost and support the great job the Nigeria Police is presently doing.
“The creation of this Agency marks another step towards ensuring the protection of lives and properties at the grass root level. Corp members recruited by the Agency are meant to interact with the people at the communities. It is expected that with the visible presence of the Corp members within a particular community, the likelihood of crime will be drastically reduced,” the Governor said.
He added that the Agency, which replaced the Neighbourhood Watch, has the responsibility of assisting the Police, and its mode of operation will essentially be in intelligence gathering, protection of lives and properties, maintaining law and Order amongst others.
The Governor also said the Agency has been empowered pursuant to its enabling law, to recruit eligible persons as Corp members in all Local Government Areas of the State.
He, however, emphasized that the Agency was not meant to compete, but to complement the efforts of the Police Force, adding that the State Government, through the Board, would develop clear policies and strategies for the implementation of the law.
While reiterating the determination of his administration to commit resources to ensure success of the objectives of the Agency, the Governor said its realization would make Lagos a place where residents and all intending foreign and local investors can do business in safety and comfort.
He also charged members of the newly inaugurated board to consider their appointments as call to duty, adding that the task making Lagos great and taking it to greater heights was that of all.
Besides, the Governor commended the foresight, efforts and industry of the Speaker and members of the Lagos State House of Assembly for initiating the bill that culminated in the enactment of the Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Agency Law 2016, saying their intellectualism in sponsoring the bill and the proactiveness in considering the passage of the law was admirable.
Members of the Board are Mr. Israel Ajao (Chairman), Alhaji Tajudeen Quadri, SP Yinka Egbeyemi, Mr. Razaq Balogun, Chief Tunde Aboyade, Mr. Ishola Laguda, Mrs Kofoworola Adegboye, Mr. Dengel Anifowoshe, Mrs. Ronke Ogabi, CSP Suleiman Lewi, Mr. O. Eziana and Mr Adegboyega Bajulaiye who will serve as Executive Secretary.
Responding, Ajao who was a former Commissioner of Police in Lagos and Ogun States and DIG in charge of Criminal Investigation, said he had no doubt as to the passion and commitment of Governor Ambode to safety and security, adding that members of the Agency would hit the ground running towards the set objectives.
He said considering the complexities of Lagos being home to Nigerians and foreigners from all works of life, the Agency would contribute its quota towards realization of the objectives of making Lagos a safe place for residents and investors.
The event was graced by the State’s Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs Idiat OIuranti Adebule; Deputy Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Wasiu Sanni Eshilokun and other principal officers of the House; members of the State Executive Council, party chieftains, among others.