No fewer than 21 assorted firearms were recovered from non-state actors across Lagos in March, the state police command said on Friday.
This is just as the command said it had intensified illegal firearms mop-up in line with directives from the Inspector General of Police (IG) Alkali Usman.
The Lagos CP Idowu Owohunwa made this known today at his inaugural meeting with Strategic Commanders under his leadership. In the meeting monitored by Members of the National Association of Online Security News Publishers, NAOSNP in which the Lagos CP gave a postmortem report of the just concluded general elections in the State, he said that it is to ‘debrief ourselves on our experiences, and cap up the operation with a view to evaluating our performances and drawing lessons that will strengthen our election security governance operations in future.’
According to him, the command had adopted the concentric circle law enforcement principle to not only mop up these illegal firearms but track their sources.
Acknowledging that an illicit firearm in the hands of non-state actor was a challenge to law enforcement, Idowu said the police would not rest until the syndicates behind the proliferation were arrested, and prosecuted.
He said: “What we are doing is to continue to identify sources of these firearms. We do arrest, make recoveries and have a coordinated approach in line with the directive of the IG to mop up illicit firearms within the public space.
“From the strategic approach, what we are doing is not isolating the recovery of a firearm. If we recover one, we use the concentric circle law enforcement principle to track the source. That is the only way we can break the network behind the proliferation of the arms and I think it is beginning to yield result.
“If you have been following the news, you will hear that Ilupeju division, about a week ago, based on intelligence, flagged down a bus and they attempted to run. They gave them a hot pursue, arrested them and recovered an English pistol. Apparently, they were going for an operation.
“So, the point here is that we will keep sustaining our efforts to track the brains behind this to ensure that our mop up operation is meaningful and sustainable. In so doing, we also need the support of the citizens in providing information so that firearm traffickers are apprehended. “Within March alone, we recovered 21 firearms of different precision and calibers. We will sustain it and hope that the judicial system will support us and ensure prompt justice on those arrested.”
The police chief also said the command was cracking a lot of kidnappings, noting that there would always be isolated cases because the crime was opportunistic.
Taking stock of election security, Idowu said 54 major incidents were recorded across all 13,325 polling units, adding that 45 suspects were arrested in the two elections.
He said 2,870 Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs); seven weapons including two firearms; 28 snatched ballot boxes; One BVAS machine and a POS machine being deployed for vote buying, were recovered in the course of police election security operations from various electoral offenders.
“Out of the cases under investigation, it is also on record that Lagos State was the first command to conclude the investigation of the first sets of fourteen (14) electoral offences and promptly processed eight to INEC for prosecution in line with the Electoral Act and the directives of the Inspector General of Police, while others involving unlawful possession of firearms and sundry criminal acts were charged to courts by the Police.
“Investigations into the remaining electoral offenses have reached advanced stages and as soon as they are concluded they will be similarly processed for prosecution in furtherance of efforts to sanitise our electoral space and discourage the resort to extra-legal means to attain political ends in future electoral engagements in the state…
“The Presidential and National Assembly Elections as well as the Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections presented some isolated challenges which were fundamentally fueled by fake news purveyors, hate news mongers, political extremists, thugs, and ethnic chauvinists all of whom fraudulently manipulated the social media not only to threaten the electoral process but to create tension and threaten peace and security within the wider polity.
“It is with a sense of professional fulfillment that I note that the Lagos State Police Command navigated through these challenges to deliver to Lagosians what has been widely acclaimed as the most peaceful, secure, and credible electoral engagement, in comparative terms, in the recent history of the state.
“This much was evidenced not just by the exceptional civility with which we policed the peaceful electorates but also, by the professionalism with which we responded to the localised and isolated security breaches that were orchestrated by electoral adversaries and the promptness with which we stabilised the security order without deploying lethal weapons and without causing or recording any citizens’ deaths all through the discharge of our duties in the 2023 General Elections in the State.
“Our exceptional performance was also evidenced by the reality that contrary to the pre-election threat analysis projections which identified Lagos as one of the possible flash states where mass electoral violence was envisioned, Lagos State did not witness any widespread electoral violence neither did the state experience post-election disorder.
“Indeed, the post-election trend has been that of peace and stability with the police continuing to dominate the public space in a manner that continues to reassure the citizens and effectively deter ill-intentioned elements,” he said.
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