Mike Ejiofor is a senior security specialist and former Director of the Department of State Security (DSS). He told ISIOMA MADIKE in this telephone interview that all stakeholders in Lagos and Ogun states must work together to nip the festering security challenge in the bud.
How would you react to the activities of the ‘one million boys’ in Lagos and Ogun states?
Well, they are concentrated in Lagos, they have been in Lagos, but they gained prominence during this lockdown. They were operating freely before, but now they can’t because of the lockdown, which is also depriving them of their source of income. So, since they couldn’t bear it, their activities increased. It’s not like they weren’t there before, they have been there, and I don’t see how the government will handle it. As it is said, a hungry man is an angry man. If they are operating in a normal situation, now that people are hungry, it is going to be worse and challenging to the government.
Are you saying the activities of the boys are beyond what the security operatives in the state can handle?
It is not beyond the security operatives, but you’ll also note that the security operatives are not very well equipped to take on all those challenges; more so when there is a lockdown and resources are limited. So, it’s a problem, a big problem and a big security challenge, I must say.
Some communities took up arms against the dreaded group but the police condemned such action. Was the reaction from both the communities and the police right?
Well, the communities are feeling insecure but they cannot take laws into their hands, because it’s still beneath the rule of law. But again, they cannot fold their hands and allow criminals to overrun them. In that instance, they can act in self-defense, but not to the point of taking laws into their hands like killing those criminals as that is jungle justice. If they are able to mobilise and organise themselves in getting the criminals arrested and hand them over to the police that will be better, but the fear again is that when these criminals are handed over to the police, they are not properly handled; they will be released back to the society and they become a vicious circle.
There are also fears in some quarters that the activities of the ‘one million boys’ could embolden the remnants of the once dreaded Badoo boys. Do you see them resurfacing?
If this issue is tackled properly, the Badoo boys won’t be emboldened to come back. Although their thinking is a bit similar, they are different because the Badoo boys are deadlier and involved in occultism.
What about the Awawa boys?
Well, these criminal gangs go by all kind of names, and it shows the failure of our security apparatus and like I have always said, people will tell me that the police are not the issue. The argument is that, the police are not adequately equipped. But you will notice that in all aspects of the society, one thing that is manifestly evident is that the police are lagging behind because there is nothing you can do without security. After all, you can see the power sector, agric sector; there is near total collapse in all the sectors.
The citizenry has applauded the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) men and officers but some are also of the view that they are understaffed to take on the security challenges in Lagos State. How do you react to this?
Lagos State is on the forefront of taking initiatives on security matters to complement the efforts of the Federal Government. But, no government, state or federal can adequately do this alone. All hands must be on deck if this war on criminals must be won. Information is vital and that is where the citizenry comes in. When this is done, the police in turn, must make sure the identities of individuals given out credible information, is protected so as to encourage others to do the same. The synergy between the law enforcement agents and all stakeholders in the state can never be overemphasised.