Dare-devil armed robbers recently invaded a bank in FESTAC area of Lagos. Numbering over 40 and clad in military camouflage, they operated unchallenged for hours, carting away millions of Naira. Three lives were lost, including a mother and her toddler.
The latest attack was the third in Lagos State in the last four months. A second generation bank was hit in the Lekki area and an undisclosed amount was carted away. Some of the policemen guarding the bank and a hawker were killed. A female-led robbery gang also unleashed terror on another bank in Ikorodu, weeks after. In the three operations, the criminals escaped through the water ways.
These and other violent robberies around the country call for more effective and rapid response policing. The low capacity of the police to respond to distress signals from citizens under the siege of criminals is very worrisome. Though the police claimed they recovered N27 million from the hoodlums in the FESTAC robbery, we are concerned that in all three cases the police did not respond until so much damage was done and lives lost.
There is an urgent need to overhaul the entire police system with a view to ensuring a more efficient crime fighting capacity. The police must be properly upgraded to be able to contend with the modern-day sophistication of crime, especially in the urban areas. Armed robbers, kidnappers, pipeline vandals and other hoodlums have discovered the waterways as viable escape routes, which was not the case in the past. The Police must, therefore, bolster its marine arm with the right equipment to tackle crime on the waterways.
Also, the anti-robbery squad of the Force should be more alert and mobile. Enough of complaints of lack of vehicles or fuel when there are emergencies. We urge both the federal and state governments to ensure that funds budgeted as security votes to fight crime and protect the lives and property of the citizens are properly utilised.
Ancillary to this is the need for governments at all levels to address the high rate of unemployment in the country. The army of unemployed youth in the land undoubtedly provides a veritable recruiting ground for criminal kingpins. President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) must begin to fulfill their electoral promise of massive job creation and payment of monthly stipends to the unemployed and the extremely needy sections of our society as part of strategies to reduce crime.
Banks must also redouble their efforts at internal vigilance. They must intensively conduct periodic background reviews of their staff and their activities, especially on ICT platforms to track their possible involvement in bank robberies and other crimes.