The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa, has met with critical stakeholders in the state to douse mounting tension and stem any likely civil unrest from the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
The meeting, convened by the Commissioner of Police on Wednesday, was at the POWA Hall, Ikeja, Lagos.
It was attended by political parties, traditional rulers, religious, youth and market leaders.
Others are the meeting were media influencers and opinion moulders.
Some of the notable attendees were Femi Falana (SAN); Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin; Monday Ubani, Nigeria Bar Association Chairman, Ikeja; Eze Ndigbo of Alimosho, Igwe Lawrence; Eze Ndigbo of Ikeja, Eze Uche Dimgba; Alhaji Suleiman Baba, representing the Arewa Council of Chiefs; Yinka Oguntimehin for Oodua People’s Congress; Mobolaji Olusegun, Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council; Folarin Falana, aka Falz; and Debo Adedayo, aka Mr Makaroni.
It was further gathered that the meeting was convened to address security concerns within the state following the presidential election and in view of the coming gubernatorial election.
It also provided the opportunity for Lagosians to ventilate their concerns, point out areas of security needs and recommend strategies that would help curb any form of violence within the state.
Owohunwa, addressing the gathering, explained that the meeting was to bridge the communication gap, arrive at a consensus in understanding of current security issues, and present a common front to proactively douse undue tensions that could snowball into a major threat to public peace if not promptly mitigated through a multi-stakeholder interactive forum with highly respected personalities known for unwavering patriotism, rationality in reasoning, and the courage and foresight to place the overriding security interest of Lagos State above other mundane, momentary and emotional considerations.
He added: “The specific purpose of this urgent meeting is to review current security developments in the aftermath of the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections in Lagos State and the tension and wide apprehension emanating therefrom.
“This has become imperative granted that from the Police operational perspective, since the conclusion of the exercise on Saturday 25th February 2023, we have responded to not less than 70 security-related callouts by Lagosians.
“Instructively, however, nearly 80 per cent of such presumed distress calls were found to be informed by false feedbacks that were largely informed by apprehension and misinformation and fueled by fake news from elements that seem to be bent on feasting on the post-election tension to destabilise the peace and order in Lagos State for inexplicable reasons.”
Owohunwa said the few instances that turned out to be real were largely attempts by misguided local urchins to threaten citizens at specific locations.
He noted that such were localised, uncoordinated and unpremeditated and were all promptly mitigated by the police, while several arrests were made.
He added: “In addition, we also upscaled our deployments across all identified flashpoints and vulnerable localities while also sustaining patrols and visibility policing across the public space in order to reassure Lagosians of their safety and deter possible mischief makers from manifesting any plan that might be inimical to peace and security across the State.
“While all these efforts are being emplaced, a major challenge remains the genuine fear of crime by Lagosians on the one hand, and the manipulation of the media space by faceless elements to spread fake news that could fuel apprehension, sense of insecurity, and engender major security threat. Regardless of the reality on the ground, some facts remain fundamental.”
The CP, while stressing that all citizens of Lagos State desire peace, maintained that the task of guaranteeing peace was not for the Police and other law enforcement agencies alone.
He said: “It is a collective responsibility in which the commitment, trust and partnership of all Lagosians across all backgrounds, creeds, or gender remain the most critical in the security value chain.
“Thirdly, evolving a strong communication framework in which the police can be held accountable and the citizens, as represented by the strategic players that are here seated, can also advance their concerns, and commit to fulfilling their obligations towards complementing the Police in the common task of securing the public space is also essential in the process.
“In convening this meeting, therefore, I hold the firm professional conviction that the best policing strategy is one that is founded on the principle of inclusivity, trust, public consent, collaboration and bridging of the gap between the Police and the citizens for optimal and cost-effective law enforcement service delivery.
“Indeed, by involving the policed communities and strategic players in the policing decision-making process.
“The import of this, therefore, is that while the deployment of lethal response to policing might be statutorily permissible to enforce public security, the option of prevention through meaningful communal engagement remains, for my police leadership, the most preferable model.”
According to Owohunwa, he wants to benchmark his leadership as Commissioner of Police, Lagos State not on the number of violence he is able to suppress, but on the number of threats he is able to prevent, and the depth of the trust and partnership he is able to perfect with the citizens and strategic stakeholders towards proactively protecting the lives all Lagosians.