CP Idowu Owohunwa

CP Idowu Owohunwa

I am delighted and indeed, sincerely honoured to welcome you all to this critical and urgent interactive meeting with strategic security stakeholders comprising of respected opinion moulders and patriotic personalities across all socio-political, ethno-religious, and economic divide in Lagos State.

2.​That you could all readjust your individual schedules to attend this urgent meeting even with the short notice, speaks volumes on your genuine commitment to partner with the Nigeria Police towards advancing the course of peace and security in Lagos State. It also demonstrates your willingness to make personal sacrifices in guaranteeing a stable order within the State. For this, I say a big thank you on behalf of the Nigeria Police and peace-deserving Lagosians!
3.​On a broad scale, this engagement was convened in furtherance to my leadership approach of engaging a whole of society strategy towards firstly, dissecting threats to our common values as may be indentified from time to time, and secondly, to strengthen partnership in evolving strategies and perfecting sets of actions that will be directed at jointly mitigating any threats to public safety and security.
4.​In all, the intention of the meeting is to bridge communication gap, arrive at a consensus in our 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 like all of you here assembled who are known for your unwaivering 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.
5.​In this context, 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 seventy security-related callouts by Lagosians. Instructively, however, nearly eighty percent of such presumed distress calls was 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.
6.​​The few instances that turned out to be real were largely attempts by misguided local urchins to threaten citizens at specific locations. Such were localized, uncoordinated, and unpremeditated and were all promptly mitigated by the Police while several arrests were made. 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.
7.​​Ladies and gentlemen, 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 ground, some facts remain fundamental.
8.​​These are that firstly, as the home to all, Lagos and all Lagosians desire and deserve peace. Secondly, the task of guaranteeing peace isn’t for the Police and other law enforcement agencies alone. It is a collective responsibility in which the commitment, trust and partnership of all Lagosians across all backgrounds, creed, 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.
9.​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, we are merely giving effect to Robert Peels Principles of Policing which emphasise that ‘the people are the police and the police are the people’. The import of this, therefore, is that while 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.
10.​Indeed, I want to benchmark my leadership as Commissioner of  Police, Lagos State not on the number of violence I am able to suppress, but on the number of threats I am able to prevent and the depth of the trust and partnership I am able to perfect with the citizens and strategic stakeholders towards proactively protecting the lives all Lagosians regardless of social, religious, gender or political persuasions and in guaranteeing peace in the Public space.
11.​It is in cognizance of this that I call on you on this day, to work with us towards dousing the current security tension across the state, support us to present a common front in confronting the real enemies of the people and the state who are the criminal elements that are bent on threatening our valued peace, security and livelihood, and discourage subversive agents that trigger and disseminate unfounded fake news in order to deepen tension and engender discord and expose the stable public disorder to risks.
12.​As a demonstration of the importance that I attach to citizens engagement in my policing leadership, my plan is to mainstream this initiative by institutionalizing it as a Police-Citizens Townhall (PCT) which will be a forum that will be driven by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Lagos State. The Townhall will comprise of representatives of CSOs, relevant Associations, Youth bodies, Media Practitioners, and other strategic stakeholders. It will meet with the Lagos State Police leadership on monthly basis to x-ray policing issues, secure feedbacks on concerns on crime, threats, and professional conducts from the citizens through the CSOs, act as police-public accountability framework, review and perfect actions plans to be commonly implemented in our joint drive to keep Lagosians safe and secure.
13.​The idea is that through this initiative, we can jointly identify tensions between the Police and citizens and promptly address them before they snowball to crisis level. The PCT will be a proactive forum for police public relations, early threat identification, crime management and inter-citizen tension for purpose of prompt and all-inclusive mitigation. I do expect that one of the resolutions to be reached at the end of this interactive section will be to encourage us to give effect to this plan and I will be disposed to engaging further on the most effective format to ensure that the object of this initiative is seamlessly attained.
14.​To this end, I look forward to feeling your pulse on current security concerns, engage frankly on pathways to mitigate them, and resolve on the path of peace in the overriding interest of our Lagos and Lagosians. I also wish to appeal to all Lagosians across all divides to embrace peace and resist any temptation to resort to violence, threat, or misinformation on social media to threaten security in the State under any circumstance.
15.​We should all embrace the path of rule of law, while appreciating that violence and threats do not represent acceptable options in a democracy and the Police and other law enforcement agencies hold the sacred and statutory mandate to deploy all assets within the law to stabilize the internal security order if wise counsel does not prevail. I trust, however, that working together, we shall achieve our vision for a peaceful process and a secure Lagos without violence. For in violence, the citizens will always be the victims. We should be determined to prevent this as history has proven over and over again that concerns are best resolved through engagements, rationality, and within the dictates of rule of law and not by violence. In this light, I wish to, particularly, appeal to media practitioners to please work with us by resisting the urge to place their media assets at the disposal of fake news purveyors and destabilizing elements. This is a sacred duty you all owe to Lagosians.
16.​On this note, I most heartily welcome you to this meeting. I expect that we shall issue a communique on the object of our gathering at the end of our deliberation while also sustaining the network we have evolved on this day towards guaranteeing peace and security in Lagos beyond this day.
17.​May God continue to protect you all as you sacrifice in service of our beloved Lagos State. Thank you all for your attendance and rapt attention.
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