Lagos – Mr Bala Hassan, the AIG Zone 2 Command of the Nigeria Police, on Thursday said the command had devised strategies to fight cross-border banditry in Lagos and Ogun states.
Hassan expressed the readiness of the police to address the challenge in spite of the porous nature of the boarders between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin in both states.
The AIG, who did not disclose the strategies during his visit to Lagos Office of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday, said that already the police were on 24 hours patrol at the borders.
“The Inspector-General of Police (I-G) has just inaugurated anti-border patrols whereby we have men patrolling the borders without necessarily blocking the highways.
“This is to ensure those criminalities and other things coming into the country like arms and ammunitions from neighbouring or other countries are being checked.
“That is why about five days ago, the men on the patrol intercepted about 18 children being trafficked from Ghana through Togo and then to Gabon.
“It’s through vigilance at the border that the men from the zone were able to intercept these young women and men who would have been taken to Gabon under the guise that they will get them employment.
“Of course, they may go into sex trade or slavery but the borders are being policed, not only in Lagos State but through Ogun borders to Republic of Benin,’’ he told NAN.
“The porous borders are a challenge to all security services but we are doing our best to see that arms and ammunition brought into the country and human trafficking are curtailed across the borders.’’
Hassan also pointed out that the crime rate in Lagos State and Ogun is on the increase being a zone with high commercial transactions.
He said that the businesses served as attractions to criminals who would not hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity to commit their heinous act.
“Well, this zone is peculiar and very important to the nation because almost 80 per cent of commercial transactions in Nigeria emanate either from Ogun or Lagos State.
“Of course, the more the commercial transactions, the more opportunities for the criminals.
“Criminals will not go a place whereby there is nothing to steal.
“So, because there are attractions like the seaport, you have banks, most of the banks in Nigeria are located here, that is the attraction and a pull factor for people to come to Lagos.
“Also, when there is border, there is opportunity to commit crime, so we are conscious of that,’’ Hassan said.
On the personnel protecting lives and property, he said that “as you are aware, we have more than 31, 680 personnel in Lagos State and in Ogun about 7,600.
“But the I-G recently directed that the zones all over the country should be decongested, so, we have fewer officials in the zone, the idea is that most men should be on the field.
“Those on traffic, those in administration should go to the field to prevent crime instead of staying in the office.
“By the time the crime situation goes down, we can have the luxury of having personnel in the office,’’ he said.
Hassan noted that the police is aware of the challenges but will not relent in protecting lives and properties.
He reassured the residents of the zone that the command was working tirelessly to combat crime in spite of the innovative devices by the criminals.
The AIG restated that there had been increased patrols, especially in the ember months for the people to sleep with eyes closed.
On the ratio of the number of policemen to Nigerians, Hassan said that the police were more than capable to secure the state.
“If you look at the population in Lagos, in 2006, we were about 17 million, now we are talking about 20 million. The UN recommends that every 400 Nigerian should be covered by one policeman.
“If you look at this ratio, it is far from being adequate.
“But we have to do with what we have, maybe that’s what informed the Federal Government to think of recruiting 10, 000 personnel to augment the police strength.
“This will make us to render good service to the people.
“But be it as it may, we are still working within the manpower we have to ensure that border crimes and also crimes within the zone are checked,’’ Hassan said. (NAN)