Despite the increasing spate of crimes such as kidnapping in Lagos State, the Federal Government has blocked efforts by the state government to install about 10, 000 security cameras round the state.
This might be attributed to the cold war between the Federal Government and the state government, which has stopped the implementation of the Lagos Safe City Project, which was initiated by the state government in May 2011 and funded by the private-public sector generated Lagos Security Trust Fund and managed remotely through a central monitoring unit, in fulfilment of a promise made by the state governor, Babatunde Fashola in January 2009.
Fashola had said the number of policemen in the state was inadequate considering the number of people in the state.
He said at the time, “Eighteen million people cannot be protected and policed by 33,000 people. This is impossible. No matter how much we try to increase the number of policemen, we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result.
“In an information technology-driven world, we have to be counted as one of those states and communities which will adopt best practices. Cameras, sensors, tracking devices are the nerve centre of these facilities that would assist men and officers of the police force, fire service among others to do their duty much more effectively.”
Four years after this announcement was made, the state has not had a taste of those promises.
This non-commencement of the project was discovered while enquiries were being made about police effort in tracking kidnappers through the security cameras in the state.
A police source at the State Criminal Investigation Department told our correspondent that security cameras had never been used in their investigations.
“The only time we make use of CCTV cameras is when our investigation takes us to a hotel or mall with security cameras. But if it is a crime committed on a Lagos road, forget it,” the source said.
When the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, was contacted on why the cameras have yet to be installed as the governor promised, he simply said the matter was out of the hands of the state government.
He said, “The problem with the issue of security cameras has nothing to do with the state government.
“When we were about to embark on their installation, the Federal Government contacted us and said we needed to stop. The reason we were given was that the FG had a scheme in the pipeline, which involved the installation of security cameras all over major cities in the country.
“According to the Federal Government, Lagos was going to be in the first phase of the project. That was why we stopped our own project.
“But we have since written a letter to the Federal Government, asking it to tell us those locations where the cameras will be installed so that when we begin to install ours, we would not duplicate locations. That is where we currently stand.”
A state government official familiar with the issue said the Federal Government’s negative attitude to it might be political.
“We all know the security cameras issue may remain buried as far as the Federal Government is concerned. If you think the Federal Government is overly concerned about Lagos, a state that is not controlled by the Peoples’ Democratic Party, then you are naïve,” the government source said.
Efforts to get the Presidency’s reaction did not yield positive result on Thursday as the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, could not be reached on his not pick the calls made to his telephone line.