It is worrisome how armed robbers and criminal elements in the country undermine Nigeria’s security agencies and go about unleashing terror and unspeakable brutality on hapless Nigerians. There is no state in the country that has not had its fair share of the dare devils’ exploits.
Lately, reports of bank robberies in Ekiti, Ondo and Lagos have been rife. Robbers take turns to invade from one bank to another with attendant casualties. That is beside the huge sums of money running into Millions they cart away without any response from the Police or relevant security agencies. Armed robbery, no doubt, is one serious security challenge that has continued unabated in Nigeria, be it highway or bank robbery, or car snatching among others.
Bank robbery is one of the oldest organised crimes in the world which take a lot of planning and insider collaboration for it to succeed. While the city centers are where robbers carry out their criminal operations such as car snatching and day light bank robberies, the highways are no less safe for travelers, motorist who are the usual victims.
In the last one year, precisely from about the tail end of 2014 till date, there have been unprecedented bank robberies in the South-West, with Ekiti, Ondo and recently Lagos State as the worst hit. Early in the year at Owo in Ondo State , three commercial banks (names withheld) were attacked by dare devil robbers, killing several people including a bank manager. Similarly, in Ekiti, a 30-man armed robbery gang had stormed a first generation bank in Ifaki Ekiti area of Ido-Osi Local Government. The heavily armed robbers reportedly stole an undisclosed sum of money from the bank, but luck ran out of them with the timely intervention of the Police. The hoodlums fled on sighting the Police, abandoning their loots. As a result of their frequent attacks on banks in the state, the financial houses were compelled to close down for fear of being attacked.
Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of the nation, was also not spared the venom of the ravaging bandits. In a commando style, two banks, Zenith and Wema all situated at the Ebute Ikpakodo area of Ikorodu, Lagos State were attacked. As usual several persons were wounded and huge amount of money stolen. Regrettably, the Ikorodu robbery occurred only few weeks after robbers had raided the Lekki branch of a commercial bank. But not too long ago, Police authorities announced that they have been arrested. The four members of the gang were arrested by men of the Special Anti-Robbery squad, SARS.
As cheering as the news may be, where there is an efficient intelligence system, it would have been better to have foiled the plots of the criminal elements rather than arresting them after they might have carried out their operations successfully. We are miffed by the continuous security flaws by the Police and other security agencies whose operations exemplify the popular saying, medicine after death.
According to a retired senior Police officer and one-time commissioner of Police in charge of Lagos , Abubakr Tsav, there is a huge security breakdown and loophole in Lagos and across the nation. There is also absence of surveillance, intelligence and effective patrol unit in many Police divisions in the states across the country. But the new directive by the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, that these sensitive units be set up and strengthened may be the much awaited tonic. But will it be different from what was obtainable before he assumed office?
The Police have enormous challenge in the country. Despite its numerous excuses, it is the duty of the Police to live up to its constitutional responsibilities, which is the protection of lives of the citizens. There is need for mutual coordination, inter-agency synergy to stamp out all forms of crimes, be it highway or bank robbery, kidnapping, etc, as demonstrated recently when soldiers at a check point somewhere at Okitipupa in Ondo State apprehended some of the masterminds of the Ikorodu robbery following intelligence gathering and information.
On the other hand, the Police needs increased funding, better equipment, higher motivation, discipline and dedication to function efficiently and effectively. We therefore challenge the Police under Solomon Arase to be on top of its game if it must arrest crimes and criminals in the country.