Lagos: Spying crime with hi-tech
On October 20, 2017, an unfortunate incident occurred on the iconic cable stay 1.346km Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge in Lagos when a 40-year-old man simply identified as Adekunle Oluseyi jumped into the lagoon from the bridge in an obvious suicide mission. The man, who is now late, got on the bridge at about 10am on that fateful day and took off his clothes, phone, wristwatch, wallet, band and shoes before jumping into the water. Part of the items in the wallet included Oluseyi’s two Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, which had no cash inside.
Many wondered what could have made Oluseyi to decide to end his life but in all of that, one instructive development happened and that was the confirmation by the Lagos Tolling Company (LTC), the operator of the bridge, that the last moment of the deceased was captured by the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras installed on the bridge.
As a matter of fact, it was when the officials of the LTC realised the development through the CCTV footage that they alerted emergency workers and within minutes, officers of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and the Marine Police emerged on the scene and activated rescue operation. Though the victim was found dead after two days precisely on Sunday morning, the fact however remained that the rescue operation was carried out with state of the art equipment deployed to the scene by LASWA, LASEMA and Marine Police. The Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos Police Command was also on ground with personnel and equipment to support with the rescue operation.
Few days before that unfortunate incident, Umueke Tagbo, the friend of music star, David Adeleke popularly known as Davido, had died in a mysterious and controversial circumstance to the point that the development led to back-and-forth on what actually led to his death.
But through CCTV footages, the lid was blown open and the Lagos State Police Command was able to unravel the mystery. The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, Mr. Imohimi Edgal, while briefing journalists on the investigation revealed how the CCTV footage confirmed the involvement of some people in the whole saga.
Aside the issue of the CCTV, another matter, which the episode brought to the fore, was the alarming rate at which youths are now having access to excessive alcohol and even hard drugs, acts which pose imminent and great danger to the security of the state.
Speaking recently at the quarterly town hall meeting organised by his administration, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode urged traditional rulers, community leaders and parents to rein in on their children, wards and subjects not to give to drug abuse and other form of crimes, saying that the call even became necessary in view of the fact that the last four months of the year had set in.
“We are in October and we are going to December, naturally, when it gets to the ember months, somehow traditionally, crime rate goes up but in the last two years, we have been able to reduce crime rate when it is coming to December.
“I want to appeal to all our traditional rulers and other community leaders; there is a need for us to support the Neighborhood Safety Corps. Also, our volunteers and the people should now be more vigilant and then cooperate with our security agencies to maintain law and order. I want to reduce the crime rate to the barest minimum and I know that we are going to engage a lot of our youths in end of the year activities to make sure that peace continues to reign in Lagos,” the Governor said.
Similarly, in a recent meeting with stakeholders in the hospitality industry in the state, the CP (Edgal) specifically told the operators of night clubs, beaches, hotels, bars, lounges, among others that it was now compulsory for them to henceforth put internal security measures in place such as CCTV and other gadgets to discourage drug abuse, drug peddling and other criminal activities in their establishments in the overall best interest of their businesses and security of the state.
According to the CP, intelligence report indicated that there was increase in drug abuse among youths and minors, and that such was dangerous to efforts of the State Government to promote the night economy of the State.
He said through the efforts of the state government, the police and other security agencies have been hugely funded, aside the fact that there had been many initiatives and programmes geared toward ensuring a 24-hour economy for the State.
He said despite the successes recorded in recent time, there were grey areas, which must be jointly tackled by both police and operators in line with the principle of community policing and security partnership.
He said: “One of such areas is the issue of drug peddling, drug use and abuse. Intelligence report at my disposal reveals that there is increased drug peddling and drug abuse in most of our nightclubs, lounges, beaches and so on across the state. Young men and women freely use narcotic substances at times in the seating areas, at times more hidden in the toilet areas of our clubs, lounges, hotels to the knowledge of the operators but they are doing nothing about it. This is wrong.”
The CP said it had also been observed that some hotels in the State now give rooms to minors and also sell alcoholic drinks to them, while under-aged girls were also being allowed to use such establishments for prostitution, saying that such was very criminal and capable of leading to crimes.
Hear him, “In addition, we also have the issue of criminals hibernating and having save haven in all our beaches, hotels, clubs, lounges these days.
The last intelligence report I received indicates that young men now move around these establishments armed. This is very dangerous for the security of the state. We have it on good authority that some of these establishments are used as meeting points to plan crimes before they execute,” Edgal said.
He said in as much as the police have the capacity to arrest any operator found aiding such, but that he was engaging the stakeholders in line with the principle of community policing and security partnership to tackle the menace frontally, while any operator found culpable would henceforth be arrested, shamed and prosecuted in accordance with the law.
Going forward, the CP said it was compulsory for operators to now install basic security gadgets such as CCTV cameras and metal box detectors, among others to effectively cover their establishments.
Also, in an interview, RRS Commander, ACP Olatunji Disu said through the Mobile CCTV vans, helicopters and drones, among other equipment procured for police in the state, many crimes have been unraveled, while others were prevented with critical arrests made.
For instance, Disu said the decoy team of RRS was able to recover six vehicles in Enugu stolen from Lagos at gunpoint and arrested ten suspects with other suspects coordinating their operation from prison using technology.
Giving details, Disu said: “The Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode recently bought for us three CCTV vans and they have been put in different locations in Lagos. On about two or three occasions, it has assisted us in picking robbers robbing on the road. We sit in the van and see what is happening in the environment; we look on the roads and see whether there is congestion especially the bus stops; we see things happening and the policemen with them will quickly rush to the crime scene and effect arrest.
“Not only that, we use the CCTV vans to re-plan our security strategies. Everywhere we place them, we monitor the policemen in the crowd as well if they are doing well or not because at the end of the day, we come back to watch every day’s activities thereby making the men more professional knowing that we are watching them as well. So, they are putting in more effort to catching these suspects we are looking for.”
Disu said aside preventing crime and effecting arrest, the CCTV vans have also been deployed to accident and riot scenes to assist rescue operation, and also serve as mechanism to review activities of the emergency responders with the view to improving on areas where there are lapses.
He said: “Every riot scene, we deploy CCTV vans and we are able to catch the mob when they attack the police or when the police officers misbehave, we see it. So, apart from catching thieves, we have been able to use the CCTV vans for various other activities.
“Like the last accident that happened under the Third Mainland Bridge, where a ferry with about 21 passengers fell into the waters; we brought in helicopter moving around, we deployed drones as well to search for the victims on the waters. And again, we have used drone to monitor traffic. We stay far off, the drone goes and discover the bottleneck for us and through that we are able to know where the hold-up is and know where to deploy our men or we find out if the traffic is caused by accident and what is happening on the road.
“Thieves have been arrested using the CCTV vans; the vans have helped in preventive activities because one or two of them have been able to identify the CCTV vans and because of that, they move far off and that is the preventive aspect of it. They know policemen are monitoring them and the good thing is that they are now seeing almost all our vehicles as CCTV vans so they move away whenever they see us.
• Joseph, writes from Ibeju Lekki.
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