Still dazed by Sunday's onslaught against Lagosians by robbers, the Lagos State Police Command, which is still smarting from the coordinated attacks, got a wake-up call from the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, to be more alert to its duty of protecting lives and property.
Abubakar, who gave the charge Monday in Lagos, urged the state police command to henceforth demonstrate competence on the job, especially now that everything needed to run criminals out of town has been provided.
Abubakar was speaking at the inauguration of over 114 patrol vehicles donated to the state police command by the 20 local government areas and 37 council development areas in the state.
The patrol vehicles, provided through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), were inaugurated by the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, along with 40 power bikes which Coscharis Group donated to the police.
The donation is coming just a day after armed robbers went on the rampage in several parts of the city on Sunday, killing about seven persons, including three policemen.
The robbers launched the attacks just about when Abubakar had just arrived in Lagos.
As at Monday, none of the robbers had been arrested.
THISDAY gathered that the robbers' operation was facilitated by their ability to intercept police communication, which enabled them to monitor efforts by the security agency to fight back.
During one of the raids, they robbers had reportedly stolen the walkie-talkie in one of the police patrol vans they attacked. With the walkie-talkie, they were aware of instructions to patrol teams deployed around the state from the police control room. This enabled them to plot a safe escape from the police.
Unimpressed by the lack-lustre response of his men, the IG accused them of sleeping and slumbering.
He directed the Assistant Inspector-General (Zone II), Mr. Mamman Tsafe, and the state Commissioner for Police, Mr. Umaru Manko, "to sit down and strategise."
According to him, "I want to sound a note of warning to all officers in the state police command that no more a tea party. You are greatly challenged now. You must wake up from your slumber. There is no doubt that some of you are sleeping."
He said they "must put more strategies on ground and methodology of fighting crimes", stressing that, "We cannot fold our arms anymore when Governor Fashola has given us everything that we need in term of mobility, technology and support."
He added that police officers and men in the state should no longer allow Lagos residents "to be terrorised by common charlatan criminals. It cannot be tolerated anymore. It will longer be tolerated anymore. On Sunday, I came in and I knew what happened. The story of yesterday should not repeat itself again."
The robbers had raided a bureau-de-change at Gbagada during which they shot one of the operators and made away with a huge amount of money in both local and foreign currencies.
Attacks were also reported in Surulere, Agege, Oshodi, Anthony and Ikeja.
Abubakar, who also visited injured policemen brought in from peacekeeping missions in Darfur, said the police were winning the war because they are turning the heat on the criminals, hence they are fighting back.
"What we need is the support of the government of the day to provide the much needed equipment and the rest would be done by the police," the IG said.
Fashola assured the families and dependants of the slain policemen that they would be compensated under the state government's insurance package.
"Many more people are relocating to our state as a place of preferred destination for security reasons. What happened on Sunday has become history. Today's challenges live with us. It is our responsibility to provide security for tomorrow.
"But this requires a rethink of our methods and strategy as well as to renew our commitment. We are at the time when some people have done no honest work from January to September and want to reap. As December approaches, they want to reap where they did not sow and it is your duty to make this state uncomfortable for them.
"Criminals need to be right only once. The criminals of Sunday were right, but we will remain right from today. Monday's incident was one of those infrequent occasions, but it was one. We must be prepared to ensure it does not happen again," the governor said.
Last Sunday's robbery attacks were part of the rising crime wave in the state as more residents are daily losing their property and lives to incessant cases of robberies, car thefts and murders in the city.
For Ugochukwu Nnakwe, a member of staff of THISDAY Newspaper, the tales of armed robbery attacks hit him with crude reality last Friday, when he was accosted by armed men who initially claimed to be police officers, but ended up dispossessing him of his silver 2008 model, Kia Rio with registration number FKJ739AM.
His ordeal is coming on the heels of another armed attack on THISDAY's Photo Editor, Mr. Abiodun Ajala, whose SUV, a 2007 model Nissan Exterra with registration number; KSF183AP, was also stolen at gunpoint.
Narrating his ordeal, Nnakwe said the five-man armed gang had blocked his car at his street gate, forced him into the back seat and drove off to an unknown destination.
"I closed late and so had called the street's security man to be at alert but surprisingly, when I got to the gate, the security man was not around. It was while I was waiting for him that the armed robbers pulled up and blocked my car.
"At first, they claimed they were police officers but when they told me to get into the back of the car, I knew they were robbers," he said. Nnakwe added that they had first claimed they were assassins sent to kill him and would only spare him if he could pay them off. But he had little or no money, so they threatened severally to kill him.
They eventually dropped him off on Badagry Road and sped off. Shortly after they left, a Rapid Response Squad (RRS) patrol van met him and contacted the police control room. The car is yet to be recovered.