Launched in 2017, the Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Agency (formerly Lagos Neighborhood Safety Corps LNSC) has proven to be a good support system for the Police and other security agencies in Lagos. Whether on the roads, at events, or on the streets, when you see the officers of the Agency, they often tend to be the best-kitted.
    Is it the Nigerian Army, Police, FRSC, NSCDC, LASTMA, KAI, mention it, they do look properly comported and well-dressed which makes you feel that this could be a good State Police in the making, National Association of Online Security News Publishers, NAOSNP can posit.
    Perhaps that is the reason why the Executive Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu even though agree with the foremost idea of the Southwest Regional Network (codenamed Amotekun Corps) in the Southwest, he believed that Lagos already has a work in progress. Thus, it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel or like sports aficionados will say ‘change the winning team’.
    The road has not been easy since the Agency was inaugurated at Agege Stadium in March of 2017 but it is definitely making steady progress. With the infusion of the energy and creativity of the former Lagos Enforcement Training Institute (LETI) boss, Prince Dr. Ifalade Oyekan at the helm of the Agency last year, the progress of the law enforcement agency is even becoming more visible.
    It would be recalled that the son of the late Eleko of Eko, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan performed so credibly in LETI that the virtually unknown security training institution became popular.
    The impetus which the well-read ICT and security expert, Oyekan is adding has brought immediate victories. This includes the success of the ongoing Okada ban in 6 LGAs and their adjoining LCDAs which was largely built on the proactive nature of the agency. ‘At a security meeting on the ban of okada, we already had the major positions of the okada that we have worked on. When Mr. Governor saw it, he told the chief officers of the other security agencies to come and learn from LNSA. He said we should make copies to give all of them. That is being proactive’, he said.
    The Lagos Neighborhood Safety Agency (LNSA) also became the only state-owned agency to get a special invitation to speak at an ECOWAS Conference on Human Trafficking which held few months ago.
    Oyekan recounted: ‘On the invitation of ECOWAS, we went to Abidjan to discuss human trafficking. We are the only state agency there. Every other agency were federal agencies at the conference. It shows what we are doing not only in Nigeria or Africa but even outside Africa. They know that we are doing a great work.’
    Oki Samson, President of the National Association of Online Security News Publishers, NAOSNP was on ground when the General Manager of Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Agency (LNSA), Prince Dr. Ifalade Oyekan hosted a Media Breakfast Roundtable to rapport with members of the 4th Estate of the realm. ‘When people don’t have sufficient information, they will write but they don’t know the truth’, he noted. The roundtable meeting was themed ‘5 Years of Safeguarding our Neighborhoods in Partnership with the People – Our Challenges, Our Achievements’.
    It is germane to spotlight here the functions of the Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Agency (LNSA). This includes gathering information about crimes, crime in progress, suspicious activities and crime suspects among other things; making available such relevant information on crimes, crime in progress, suspicious activities and crime suspects to the Police or other security agencies that require it; and putting structure in place to ensure that hoodlums and cult groups do not have the opportunity to operate.
    Others are undertaking routine motorized patrol day and night; reducing the crime rate and ensuring that offenders are identified and made to account for their misdeeds; and following up on arrest of offenders to the court and ensuring justice.
    Further roles are the timely reporting of suspicious activities and crimes in progress to the Police or other security agencies and improving relationship between the Police and the community as it concerns law enforcement; and contributing to maintaining community peace.
    A core task that the Executive Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu gave to Ifalade Oyekan when he redeployed him to Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Agency (LNSA) from Lagos Enforcement Training Institute (LETI) was to rebrand the security outfit. The aim is for the organization to attain global standards of a state-owned law enforcement agency.
    Speaking at the media roundtable, the security expert Oyekan shared: ‘For every law enforcement outfit, you must have a crowd control unit. When I was the head of LETI, I was an executive member of Lagos State Football Association and when it comes to Nigerian matches, they will always call me. That’s what led to the training of our officers on crowd control.
    When Mr. Governor attended a match, I was there as the Chairman of the security unit.’
    ‘One of the units we just got provisional approval for August last year is the Human Trafficking Unit. We had people come from Abuja and Egypt to come and see what we do.
    We have a good relationship with the Police, DSS, NSCDC, etc. we are a very young agency of just about 5 years. We can’t just sit down. We need synergy. We need to borrow ideas from other agencies.’
    ‘There is no Police outfit that will not have traffic, intelligence, and operations units. We still need to create all that for us so that we can have global outlook. We have our men working in all the 57 LGAs/LCDAs. We have our men from the hood so they can say who lives where and can identify people easily.
    That’s why we are friendly and accommodating to citizens which make it easy for intelligence gathering.’
    ‘We want to have a divisional bicycle unit whereby we will start from Bar beach, then it is a like a baton game whereby you get to a point you will hand it over to another person. We want to start it small but we believe it will become a tradition. Later it will expand to other agencies who ride bicycles and then nationally.’
    As a way of expansion of its activities, the LNSA has gotten approval to have its unit dedicated to innovation. ‘This is LNSA. We have gotten an approval for the new unit and department to be created. We found that we don’t have R and D unit. We can’t talk about any organization, leave law enforcement, without R and D for new innovation. The mandate given to us is to go and rebrand’, NAOSNP gathered.
    The success of an organization depends on the quality of its people. This is especially true for a law enforcement agency which is expected to be civil to the public it serves.
    GM Ifalade Oyekan is taking this aspect with all significance it deserves.
    In order to get the best out of the workforce, the excellent administrator noted: ‘We conducted examinations and when we do, we look at your character and leadership ability. If you don’t qualify for the job, you won’t get it. We don’t use sentiments here. We are saying that rebranding is not about new vehicles alone, it is about your etiquette. It is about the way you talk to people.’
    ‘I have gone for a lot of training but the best training you can have is how to survive. When you are in the desert with only a bottle of water, how do you survive? This is what we are teaching our officers. The first thing is to survive. It is when you survive that you can do any other thing’, Oyekan added.
    Leaving no stone unturned on manpower training and discipline, National Association of Online Security News Publishers, NAOSNP gathered: ‘We have in-house training. One of the first things we did when we came in April last year is training on safety. That is the basic safety tips as first transponders.
    We give all other enforcement agencies the needed information they need to work. Our officers don’t need to wait for approval to act. So if LASTMA is not there, it is responsibility for any officer to take role for free flow of traffic. This is because when there is traffic, the next result could be crime. So we need to come in and not delay because it can lead to problems.’
    Oyekan also goes out to monitor his people, ‘Another thing that we looked at is the discipline of our law enforcement officers. You don’t sit down in the office because if you do, it is what you want to hear that they will tell you. My operational officers, auditors, everyone goes out. This helps the way we deliver our service. Your diligence, appearance, the language, we look at it.’
    The role of technology in 21st century security management cannot be overemphasized. Gone are the days when officers can misbehave and get away with it. ‘You must check yourself. That is part of rebranding’, Oyekan said.
    On the introduction of technology into security management in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, the LNSA GM recounted: ‘At LETI, we were the first to introduce body-worn cameras. This is because one of the first things that we need to address is the integrity of officers. We went to 6 countries to sample their body-worn cameras to see which one is peculiar to us in Lagos and we got it. It was launched by Mr. Governor.’
    ‘When we got to Lagos Neighborhood Safety Agency (LNSA), the first thing we did was to write to Mr. Governor for body-worn cameras. Now we have about 232 cameras out there. We are the first law enforcement agency in Lagos and Nigeria to use body-worn cameras and we collate our data at our backend where we store our information. We have a software package. We have put it to test using the Google Map to know where each body camera is located per time.’
    ‘If after a month and we see that what we have is not used, we take it off, for example, daily activities on the road with no crisis. But if it is of importance, we don’t delete, for example, the media aide of Gov. Sanwo-Olu, Mr. Jubril Gawat mentioned a case, we went into our archives and we watched everything from genesis. He was surprised to see everything as it happened’, NAOSNP can report.
    ‘We have new cars which are 3-way dash cars. It will show you what is happening in front, behind, and inside the car to know what the officers are doing inside the vehicles. Are you doing it right? By the time we fix all this, we can monitor what’s happening. When you go to a riot, it will record activities inside, in front and behind you. What is the position that the officers are taking? It will check the activities of the officers. We have 25 cars, including 15 Hilux jeep for operation.’
    GM Oyekan continued: ‘Another thing that we have introduced into LNSA is the use of drones which is very germane. You can’t get into someone’s house and know the house better than the person. So the first thing that we do when we go for an operation is to send out our drones. With this, we can generate and collate information about the area without getting there physically. We record and go back to the office and map out how you will go in and out. It will help us in a lot of ways. We are still training some officers.
    We have six – 1 at the head office and the 5 at the divisions for a start.’
    ‘The money accruing to us is from taxpayers. We can’t just use it anyhow. If we buy 100 and we don’t maintain it, it is not good. I will not be happy about it. We have a partnership with a company in Germany for the software connected to our body-worn cameras.
    At the comfort of our office, we can locate your position but that is not enough. I want a situation whereby I will see what the body-worn camera is recording so that even if the body-worn camera doesn’t return with you, you can’t lie. It helps with procedures, judgments, court cases, etc.’
    On the application of the technology, he revealed to NAOSNP, ‘We have a special squad that has been trained to use shields. We demonstrated it in Epe when Mr. Governor went to commission an arena there. It is used in places where we have large crowds like stadium.
    The body-worn cameras and shield was put to use. It is been used all over the world. Shields have been in existence for long if you check your Bible and Quran. When you are fully kitted, you can intimidate 10-15 rioters and each of this have the knee and elbow guard which enable you to crawl with your elbow when there is gunshot or riot. We have to protect our offices because they are the ones that will do the job. We have all these for 3000 law enforcement officers.’
    ‘We can’t carry firearms but we still need to do right. This is what Mr. Governor is doing. We need to talk about it because he is the one putting down the money. Little things count in operation. This is the rebranding. This is the THEMES Agenda. This is the mandate given to us to have a state police in 2 years.’
    Speaking about his administrative prowess which has led to a proper management of the existing structures in terms of personnel and assets, GM Oyekan shared: ‘When Lagos Neighborhood Safety Agency (LNSA) started every LGA/LCDA must have at least 100 officers. We thank the government for the foundation because without the foundation, there is nothing we want to work on. But the number is reduced now. This is because about 1000 of our officers were given to Police as Constabulary. We have 88 deceased officers. Yet you still find us every year doing the job diligently. We have regular engagement with CDC, CDA, Baales, Obas. If you have events you can write to us that you need officers. But if you go out to do illegal job, that is wrong.’
    ‘This is our photo book. All LNSA officers are here. It is the first of its kind. We have the Governor, staff of the agency – department by department – in all the 5 divisions. This office before and now is quite different. We want a welcoming environment for everybody. It is what people see that they will use to offer you whatever they have. We got here April last year.’
    On how he has enhanced the service delivery of his personnel, Oyekan shared: ‘Another thing that we are able to do is to improve our communication. We want a situation where I can use my walkie-talkie to speak with someone in Ikorodu but we need the masts to be on for easy communication. When we did it, other agencies saw it and they liked it. And we are doing it for them for free. This is the beauty of having synergy. We need to help each other. These are the benefits of what we do at Lagos Neighborhood Safety Agency (LNSA). We want people to know that there is more to what we are doing than just being out there.’
    ‘For some officers in Epe and Ikorodu to come and submit report, that day is gone by traffic with energy and time wasted. So we distributed telephone lines, modems to the 57 LGAs and 5 to the divisional heads. We provide them with generators – 30 of the LGAs already have their generators. With the modems, since all of them have systems, what they need to do is to sit down in the office or at their dutyposts and send in their reports. We are getting better at it. Through our website, you will soon be able to snap pictures and send reports to us. This is our neighborhood. It is ours’, NAOSNP gathered.
    On the assets that his administration inherited from the past leadership of LNSA, Oyekan shared: ‘When we came into operation, we had 157 vehicles. They were given to us during the era of the past government. The vehicles have spent about 10 years and ordinarily when you have a car of 10 years, the amount to maintain it will be more than a new vehicle. If you have old vehicles and you want to chase a criminal, will the vehicle give you the result that you want? Also when you have old vehicles representing us outside, people won’t see us as serious, it doesn’t give us a good image.’
    ‘The first thing we did was to write to the Head of Service that we need more vehicles with reasons. We also wrote to the Chief of Staff but at the end of the day, it was back and forth. With pressure, we got 25 new ones from the Governor by the Chief of Staff. Of recent, we got additional 15 pick-ups.’
    ‘Last year, we wrote to Mr. Governor that we need to service our vehicles but at the end of the day because we know that the money is not really there, an approval for a lesser amount of money was given to us. We thought that if we take the vehicles to the Chinese and Korean companies, the money may only service 2 and we have 157 cars. And that’s what led us to rebranding.’
    ‘You can see that we have brand new tyres, engine oil, oil filters, etc and we bring in our own officers and brought a superior person to come in to service the vehicles. So whatever issue you have with your car, bring it we will do it for you. By the old way, all these tyres, engine oil will be gone but because we say bring in your cars here, that is the checkmate.’
    On the maintenance of bicycles which enhanced the movement of LNSA officers within the nooks and corners of the communities, he said: ‘One of the things that gave us the name ‘neighborhood’ is bicycle. But a lot of it we don’t have again, we now have foot patrol more. When we came on board, we got to know that the total number distributed is 4061. But as at June 2021, of the total which is not working which is 2553, we were able to revive 1652.’
    In order to curb the misdemeanor exhibited by some students of Lagos schools, the officers of Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Agency (LNSA) swung into action. Speaking on the matter, the GM Ifalade Oyekan said that they got reports of students beating their teacher and students taking to the streets for a free-for-all.
    ‘We looked at it as part of our responsibility because as an officer, your beat is 50metres radius of where you are. We increased it to 70metres in the morning so that you can look at schools around you and search the students, male and female, male for male, female for female before they enter. But the challenge in places like Ikorodu and Epe is that some of the schools are not fenced making it difficult.’
    The well-trained security expert said: ‘The ones we were able to do, we collect blades, Indian hemp, dice which they use to gamble and resort to fighting. Screwdriver in a school that is not a technical school is big weapon. From my training, there are 27 spots in your body that they can use it and you will come down. Even pen is a weapon talkless of screwdriver. Some come with charms. Some have hard drug joints. We got cutlass, locally made weapon collected from students. It was detected by one of our officers carrying metal detectors.’
    ‘Our female students with big phones do what they call ‘connect-connect’ on Instagram, Facebook. A student has 4 phones when some parents don’t even have 1. After connecting on social media, they meet at home, whatever happens there is your problem. These are the efforts we are doing to change the face of this agency’, he concluded.

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