By Ebenezer Ishola
Bank robbery appears to be a bygone incident in Lagos going by the new record released by the State’s Security Trust Fund.
For the fourth consecutive year, Lagos recorded no incident of armed robbery assault against any financial institution in the State — the longest period over the last two decades.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu linked the improvement to the continuous review of the State’s security architecture and the consistent surveillance put in place to nip organised crimes in the bud.
Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, shared this progress at the 17th Town Hall Meeting on security organised by the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), where stakeholders in the security circle, citizens and private sector donors met to evaluate issues relating to safety in Lagos between October 2022 and September 2023.
The event was held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island.
Lagos, however, recorded 189 cases of residential robberies under the year in review, 172 of which were successfully foiled by security operatives and 257 suspects arrested.
The Governor praised the police and sister agencies for their collaborative efforts towards combating crimes in the city, saying the State had built a stabilised security landscape compared to other parts of the country. He, however, said more challenges lied ahead to overcome.
He pointed out that the State, through LSSTF, had consistently funded operations of security agencies across communities to ensure quick response to threats and crimes, noting that the State Government had provided operational vehicles and equipment towards enhancing the capacity of security operatives.
The intervention, Sanwo-Olu said, had raised the frequency of crime-busting responses, which, he added, resulted in the unprecedented record of progress in the annal of policing in the State.
He said: “We convene here today to discuss and evaluate the trajectory of our collective effort to bolster security in Lagos. Our discussion centres around the convergence of security strategies, which is an integral component of our THEMES+ agenda. Our administration recognises security as a multifaceted challenge and we promise to continue to pursue policies and actions that will foster the well-being of all Lagosians, while we keep faith with our pledge to building a secure, and inclusive community.
“LSSTF, fueled by voluntary donations, has significantly strengthened our security architecture, providing essential vehicles and equipment. While challenges still persist, our State’s security landscape is notably more stable than many other parts of the country. We have equipped and strengthened cooperation among various safety and security agencies; our collaboration with armed security agencies through the Lagos State Security Council remains crucial in acknowledging the sacrifices made by officers and men to ensure our safety.”
Sanwo-Olu pledged that 2024 would kick off with new security measures, disclosing that his administration would be raising the fleet of patrol vehicles for security agencies by 300 units. This, he said, will be done in collaboration with local government authorities.
The Governor said Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) Agency had been repositioned to gather actionable intelligence to complement efforts by the security agencies, adding that the State’s Emergency Call Centre was undergoing operational restructuring for enhanced intelligence reporting.
“To address critical needs, the State Government, in collaboration with local authorities, will provide 300 patrol vehicles through the LSSTF at the beginning of next year. We have repositioned the neighbourhood safety agency to gather actionable intelligence to support security responses,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The Governor personally led the donation drive to LSSTF, raising N2 billion voluntary contributions to the trust fund at the event.
Oil mogul and businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola, pledged donation of N1 billion to the Fund, just as other donors turned out large donations to the cause.
Giving the report of crime situation in Lagos, Acting Commissioner of Police, Waheed Ayilara, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, said 103 firearms, 324 assorted ammunition and 279 dangerous weapons were were recovered during the year.
He said 158 cases of murder were recorded, with the incidents resulting in the death of 163 victims. Also, 18 kidnapping suspects were arrested in connection with eight incidents.
The police boss also raised the alarm on the rising cases of domestic violence and abuse, noting that 256 case of gender related violence were recorded with 333 suspects in custody.
LSSTF Executive Secretary, Dr. AbdurRazaq Balogun, said Lagos State Police Command only received nine patrol vehicles from the Federal Government within two years, stressing that the Fund used donations it received in the last 10 months to bridge the equipment shortfall within federally controlled security agencies operating in Lagos.
Lagos, Balogun said, remained the only State with 28 functioning bullet-proof vehicles, with three vehicles’ armored features being replaced every five years.
He said: “The Fund received a total of N318.75 million in cash donations and two vehicles in 2023. We continue to thank our donors as their partnership is far-reaching and critical to the success of these security activities.”
LSSTF BOT Chairman, Mr. Kehinde Durosinmi-Etti, said although economic situation in the country had affected donations to the Fund, the agency surpassed its revenue target by 94 per cent.
“The unstable economic climate largely influenced by increasing foreign exchange rates has been a major challenge to fundraising. This makes the donation drive even more pertinent for us especially, as there is no alternative to collective funding model given, the indication that the Government cannot do it alone,” Durosinmi-Etti said.