Wednesday, May 4, 2016 10:29 pm
Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, on Wednesday said the Assembly was giving more powers to local vigilante corps for all communities in the state through the establishment of the state Neighbourhood Safety Agency to meet the security challenges of the country.
Obasa spoke at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on a bill to establish the state Neighbourhood Safety Agency which is to regulate and control activities of vigilante corps and for connected purposes.
The Speaker said the House has agreed that it would continue to collaborate with the executive arm to rid the state of any form of criminal and violent activities.
“And that is the major reason the bill we are discussing its content here today is so dear to our hearts.
“This bill is aimed at giving further legal backing to community policing in the state. It is meant to further cement and legalise participation of the people especially at the grassroots in policing their various communities.
“We will all agree that the issue of security of lives and properties has been a major cause for concern in recent times. The Boko Haram insurgency, the Niger Delta militancy, kidnapping, armed robbery and the recent upsurge in cases of killings perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen are several security breaches that have given Nigerians cause for concern.
“It should be noted here that providing adequate security of lives and properties of the citizens has been one of the major programmes of the APC governments both at the federal and state levels and today, we are all living witnesses to strides being achieved by the APC government at the state and federal levels.
“In Lagos, the resolve and determination of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration to wipe out violent crimes from the state has led to the establishment of the state Security Trust Fund and the purchase of sophisticated gadgets and vehicles for various security agencies in the state,” Obasa said.
He expressed belief that people should be involved in the policing of their various communities because they live in the communities and are very conversant with the physical structures and people living in such communities.
“They are also privy to information which might elude security agents coming from outside their communities. That is why we have always been advocates of state police.
“However, if state police is not feasible at the present moment, we feel we should strengthen our locally based security outfits and that is the essence of this bill,” he added.
The bill, sponsored by Speaker Obasa, was supported by all the stakeholders present at the event.
Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, Dr. Abdulrazak Balogun, noted that the bill would complement the efforts of other security agencies in the state.
“I think the intendment is good. We are not opposed to the bill, but the House may have to harmonise it with the Law of Neighbourhood Watch because they have a lot in common.”
He however noted that it had been difficult to raise money from corporate bodies to fund security agencies in the state and that it would not be wise to depend on corporate bodies to raise funds. Apart from this, he objected to an item in the bill which suggested that one percent of the fund raised by the Security Trust Fund should be given to the agency.
In his contribution, Alabi Kolade, the Chairman, Lagos State Conference of Executive Secretaries said: “I salute the prime mover of this Bill, it is long overdue.
“It shows that the House is proactive; it is wonderful and timely. We don’t have any objection to it.”
He however urged the government to ensure that members of the Neighbourhood Watch were absorbed into the new agency while council chairmen should also be represented.
Reviewing the bill, Majority Leader of the House, Sanai Agunbiade, said that the 31-section bill was to enhance security of the state.
“This bill is to respond more adequately to the security challenges of this state, it has to do with all round strategies to effectively make Lagos safe for citizens and investors.
“It is to curtail the activities of criminals and hoodlims affecting the economic activities of the state,” Agunbiade.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of House Committee on Information and Strategy, Tunde Braimoh said that security remained a primary responsibility of any government, stressing that any government that fails to secure lives and property has failed woefully.
The lawmaker, who described security as a living subject, said that no one could police an environment more than the inhabitants of the environment.