14th March, 2012
In the last few days, armed robbers have become more daring while police response has become seemingly lethargic, although quite a few of them in very few police divisions are really doing anything to fight crime or intensify patrol to curb the growing menace.
When the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar assumed office in January, he ordered that road blocks set up by policemen in different parts of the country be dismantled. And since then, armed robbers have stepped up their attacks, robbing people in their homes and daring to rob worshippers in a church, and in broad daylight too, destroying the little faith we had in the police and throwing the citizens into a state of fear.
Few of these bandits were caught and many citizens were killed. We began to think that dismantling the road blocks was the cause of the upsurge in armed robbery, because many of these incidents had been carried out with AK47 or Kalashnikovs, the guns that our policemen carry. Many citizens started thinking that these armed robbery incidents were being masterminded by law enforcement officers in civilian garb.
The precision with which many of these armed robbery incidents are carried out have convinced the civilian populace that these armed robbery were being carried out by trained security men.
Are the policemen prevented from mounting checkpoints in several points in town the ones encouraging their cronies in the underworld to strike harder to compel a return to the status quo? Have policemen, because they can no longer make the extra money they do at checkpoints, decided to turn to armed robbery to exact the price of the checkpoints denied them? It remains a subject of debate as armed robbery attacks have become more rampant, leaving loss of cash and death in their wake.
In many cases in Lagos State, the roadblocks have given way to checkpoints, which have been considered useless by residents. Policemen these days sit in their vehicles chatting, forgetting the duties which brought them to that point.
Residents have been complaining about the rising cases of armed robbery and the police have retorted that the residents asked for it by asking for the dismantling of road blocks. It seems the police have deliberately or even encouraged armed robbery by refusing to do their jobs. Policemen seem to have refused to apprehend criminals because their checkpoints, where they make their illegal collections, have been dismantled.
We believe the police hierarchy should look into this disturbing trend stop this passive resistance by the police and call them to order. We should not continue to spend millions to provide logistics for the police with no results. The police should rise to the occasion and do what is right.
Residents should not be allowed to continue to provide their own security, especially resorting to becoming vigilantes.
The loss of innocent lives can no longer be tolerated considering the millions of naira the Security Trust Fund has spent in providing logistics for the police, they have to wake up from their slumber.
We can no longer sit down twiddling our fingers as if there is no solution. There is a solution and the police know it. The rising crime wave is a shame to the police except a few who genuinely fight crime.
On no account should police road blocks return. That is not the only way to fight crime.