Apparently worried over the crime rate in Port Harcourt and its environs, which reached a frenetic and feverish pitch in 2010, the Rivers State Police Command in June, last year, announced that moves were in the offing to install Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras on major roads in Port Harcourt and its surburbs.
The state Police Commissioner, Suleiman Abba, who dropped the hint said the move was part of efforts to ensure effective monitoring of its officers and men, manning road blocks, as well as improve security situation on the roads in the state capital.
Hear him: “our men at the road blocks will be monitored with CCTV cameras to enable us see what they are doing. This is so because anything they do will be outright dismissed if we find anyone engaged in corrupt practices.”
As it were, the state police commissioner’s announcement of the proposed installation of CCTV cameras on all the major roads in Port Harcourt, was greeted with applauds from members of the public, in view of the state of crime which they were faced with at the time in question.
Sadly, more than one year after the state police commissioner’s announcement of the proposed installation of CCTV cameras on all major roads in Port Harcourt, the residents of the city in particular and Nigerians in general are yet to see the execution of the project. This, to say the least, is unfortunate!
The concern of this column over the issue borders principally on the fact that the wave of crime in Port Harcourt and its suburbs is yet to abate in spite of efforts being put in place by the authorities concerned, a situation that appears to be giving security operatives sleepless nights.
Regrettably, jailbreak or prisoners’ escape was witnessed in Port Harourt, penultimate, Sunday, August 7, 2011. In a statement, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr.Ben Ugwuegbulam said the incident occurred at 10:00am at the Port Harcourt prisons, on the fateful day, and announced that the police arrested a total of 25 inmates who attempted to escape from jail.
“The suspects used iron beds and made ladder to cross over the prisons fence, and escape into Bundu and Abuja waterside,” he lamented, and recalled that the Port Harcourt prisons recorded a jailbreak in 2005 when at least 10 inmates escaped from the prison.
It stands to reason therefore, that Port Harcourt City needs CCTV cameras, especially in areas such as the prisons axis, Secretariat Complex, Ikwerre, Aba, Aggrey and Club roads, among others, as well Eleme Junction / Oil Mill axis. No doubt, if television monitors were installed at the Port Harcourt prisons, the recent jailbreak attempt by the inmates would have been noticed before they escaped.
Worse still, officers and men of the state police command are still mounting illegal road blocks in Port Harcourt and extorting money from motorists due largely to the absence of CCTV cameras in the city. Yes, the state police commissioner informed the residents last year that the CCTV cameras would address such fraud practices by the police personnel stationed at the road blocks.
Indeed, the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) monitors, now in use in the federal Capital Territory (FCT). Abuja, are some of the modern security devices that should be installed in Port Harcourt and its environs without delay. if the spate of crimes is to be stemmed.
One can recall that in 2008, the police authorities installed the CCTV monitors in FCT, Abuja. Mr Haz Iwendi, the Force Public Relations Officer, at the time, who announced the installation of the security devices, said the television monitors would enhance security surveillance in the federal capital. His words: “The idea is for us to be able to cover the entire FCT, and be able to crackdown on all criminal activities”.
Well, there is nned to commend the authorities for installating the CCTV monitors in Abuja and its suburbs, especially the federal government that provided the funds with which the police procured and installed the security devices.
But while lauding the nation’s police for the landmark achievement in crime control, one would want to urge the authorities to extend the gesture to other major cities across the country. Yes, the CCTV monitors should not be limited to only Abuja and its environs. Cities such as Port Harcourt, Lagos. Ibadan, Kano, Enugu, among others, also need (urgently) such modern security surveillance devices to checkmate the antics of men of the underworld and other miscreants unleashing terror on law-abiding citizens.
It is common knowledge that the spate of crime in some major cities in the country has in the recent past assumed an alarming proportion. Therefore. the introduction of CCTV cameras to check the antics of criminals should not for any reason be an exclusive affair for Abuja and its suburbs.
Agreed, Abuja is nation’s federal capital city and should be provided with the best security surveillance devices. But security reports across the country indicate that other cities have in the recent past, witnessed an upsurge in crime wave.
It would be recalled that the erstwhile lnspector-General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, lamented that the spate of crime in the country, especially in major cities, had continued to soar in spite of steps taken to stem the tide of crime.
Accusing the nation’s police commissioners, at the time, of not helping matters, Ehindero, however, assured Nigerians that everything possible would be done to nip in the bud, the antics of criminals in major cities. Again, the immediate past Police Inspector-General also re-echoed same. Yet, criminals have been on the prowl in Port Harcourt and other major cities across the country.
Well, since the police authorities have taken some dogged steps to install CCTV cameras in FCT, Abuja, the cameras should be installed not only in Port Harcourt but other major cities in the country because, what is worth doing is worth doing well.
That said, as we await the installation of CCTV cameras in Port Harcourt, it is hoped that the project will not continue to remain in the pipeline like most of the police projects, yet to be executed, years after they were proposed.