SPECIAL Forces will be deployed in the Southwest to battle the escalated insecurity in the region, the police announced on Monday.
The forces, to be commanded by a commissioner of police, will be supported with technology, better equipment and Community Police Officers (CPOs).
The CPOs will complement the police, by performing low-risk and non-sensitive functions.
Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu unveiled the plans in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, at a Security Summit attended by governors, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the region.
It was the first leg of the six-state tour of the region by the police chief to organise his men and restrategise to secure the region.
The IG’s plan also include setting up a committee of officers, other security agencies, the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Miyetti Allah, and citizens in each state to further discuss how to reduce criminality.
IG Adamu said: “Within this perspective and in relation to the Southwest geo-political Zone, we shall soon relaunch the ‘Safer Highway’ Motorised Patrol Scheme as well as the ‘Safer City’ Scheme. We have since purchased new fleet of patrol vans to be deployed across our highways and cities. This will also involve the deployment of cutting-edge CCTV technology for surveillance across the highways and vulnerable locations in our communities in the zone and other parts of the country.
“In addition, a special operation is underway across the Southwest geo-political zone. The operation will specifically address the threat of kidnapping and armed robbery on the highways and other locations. While for operational reasons, I would not offer the details into the operation, I am in this summit with the Commissioner of Police who will command the special operation to complement the efforts of the Police Commissioners in the states within the zone.
“Furthermore, in order to give full effect to our Community Policing Vision as a pathway towards bridging security gaps, we shall soon commence the implementation of the strategy in the Southwest and other parts of the country. Hopefully, the breakdown of the Community Policing deployment plan will cover the recruitment of a total of forty thousand (40,000) Community Police Officers (CPOs) across the country.
“The CPOs will be recruited from within the communities where the prospective applicants reside and an average of fifty (50) CPOs are to be engaged in each of the 774 Local Government Areas. In addition, one thousand (1,300) CPOs will be drawn from professional bodies like the academics, road transport unions, artisans, traders associations, religious bodies, women unions, and youth organisations among others in order to ensure diverse representation.”
The IGP explained that the success of police anti-crime efforts in the northern part of the country has definitely made them relocate to other areas, including the Southwest.
Speaking on why security in the region nose-dived, the IG said: “Generally-speaking, the security situation across the country has been stabilized. However, there are isolated cases of kidnapping and armed robbery in the Southwest, particularly, along Benin-Ore-Lagos Highway and across Ondo State.
“The reality is that the current concerted operations of the police and other security agencies across the country, particularly, along the Niger-Kogi-FCT-Kaduna-Katsina and Zamfara areas, have engendered a dispersal and re-location of some of the criminals to new localities including the Southwest.
He said the first summit was held in Kastina for the Northwest region, pointing out that strategies jointly developed from it have since helped improve successes against criminal activities in the region.
Aside voluntary surrender of many criminals and foiling of planned attacks, Adamu pointed out that “a more significant outcome of the initiative is the enhanced trust between the communities and the police and a renewed determination to embrace the police as ‘their police’ who are committed to serving them. In consequence, there has been a remarkable increase in the volume and quality of pieces of criminal information shared by the citizens across the Northwest geo-political zone with the local police and these are being optimally utilised to take the anti-crime war to the door steps of the criminals with resounding success.”
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde pledged his administration’s support for the plans, including the promotion of 100 vehicles to strengthen security efforts, deployment of technology, and synergy with traditional rulers.
Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola urged the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, to consider the states’ peculiarities in the recruitment of new policemen and officers.
Describing the summit as significant in view of the security challenges confronting the country particularly the Southwest, Oyetola said the recommendations from the summit would further help the governors in their bid to strengthening security in the region.
He added: “On our part, we have been doing our best to champion the core fundamental objectives of government which is the security of lives and property of the citizens’‘.
“We are providing logistics to our security agencies. We have maintained the available security vehicles- 25 Armoured Personnel Carriers. We are planning to buy more. We are also planning to build a helipad to boost security surveillance in the state and ensure effective performance.
“We have approached the security chiefs to stamp out those criminals that are parading themselves as miners. It is in view of this that I commend my colleagues in the Southwest for the synergy that exists between us regardless of politics to keep our region safe”.
Traditional rulers at the meeting endorsed the IG’s plan. They include:
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Owa Obokun of Ijesland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran, the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji; Olugbo of Ugbo land, Oba Frederick Akinruntan; Alake of Egba land Oba Adedotun Gbadebo and the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Chief Gani Adams, also lent the OPC’s support to the new plans, stressing that the cooperation between police and OPC is commendable. He said it would be fantastic to have a platform for the two organizations to work together for the safety and security of the people of the region.
Governors of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti states were represented by their deputies – Obafemi Hamzat (Lagos), Mrs Noimot Salako-Oyedele (Ogun), Agboola Ajayi (Ondo) and Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti).