The Lagos State Police Command has declared war on illegal vigilante groups across the state. Already five suspects have been arrested and arms and ammunition recovered from them.
The acting Commissioner of Police (Ag CP), Imohimi Edgal, at a press briefing yesterday at the Police Officers’ Mess, Ikeja warned that it was not business as usual when vigilance groups bear firearms. He warned that the command would clamp down on any vigilante members that would be caught carrying arms and the culprits and their sponsors would be prosecuted.
He revealed that the Anti -kidnapping and Anti cultism unit has been unbundled as two separate senior officers would be assigned to take charge of the units. He said the unit has been decided into two – Anti-kidapping and Anti-cultism units.
Edgal warned unauthorised people from carrying arms. He said:” The command under my watch would not hesitate to parade and prosecute those found culpable. The command will commence profiling and registration of informal policing organisations to ensure unscrupulous elements do not hide under vigilante groups to commit crime. My mandate is to keep residents safe and secured. I want to warn cultists who are carrying arms to desist from it as anyone found carrying arms would be death with.”
He said the command would laised with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in order to rout drug dealers as the access by the youths to illicit drugs was becoming embarrassing.
He said most crimes were committed under the influence of drugs and that the command would do anything possible to rid the state of illicit drugs. “We will go after drug dealers; we will hit all nook and crannies of the state. We are in corroboration with the NDLEA to rid the state of drugs and the dealers,” he said.
He said Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers (DPO) have been tasked to strengthen their oversight functions of monitoring the other ranks within their jurisdiction in order to curb allegations of infractions against the police.
He said the command would establish observation or pin down points, where policemen would be stationed to detect and prevent crime, adding that a Citizen Compliant Hot Centre (CCHC) has been put in place to attend to the worries of residents.
He said: “From 6pm today (Wednesday), the Lagos Command would unveil the Citizen Complaint Hot Centre, which would operate from Command Intelligence Laboratory at Alausa, Ikeja. It would be headed by senior police officers and would run 24 hours. There would be dedicated emails and 10 phone numbers for residents to call in anytime of the day.
“Citizens are enjoined to call the lines in whatever language they choose – Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa. Police personnel on standby would translate the complaints to English. The telephone numbers are 08067945296, 08063025274, 08063104759,08113615350, 08113683077, 08096283148.
Continuing, Edgal said: “My mandate is to protect Lagosians and ensure the city is safe. The era of slap on the wrist for indiscipline is over. Any policeman who engages in torture, illegal or prolonged detention, bribery and corruption would be meted with the full punishment as prescribed by Police Rules.
“Another important issue we would address is the misuse of firearms. Firearm is sensitive and dangerous and that is why the constitution permits only trained, legal institutions to bear firearms. I do not see why any policeman should use firearm outside Force Order 237. It is unambiguous and clearly states the circumstances a policeman is permitted to use firearm.
“Vigilante groups are not permitted to carry firearms. They should not be seen with any firearm, not even double barrel or dane guns. These guns are for games and hunting and not for use by vigilante groups. We would partner the informal policing sector but they are not allowed to carry guns.
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