CCTV cameras and national security

The recent call by Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Tuesday Assayomo, for the installation of CCTV cameras and deployment of local guards around places of worship underscores the gravity of the security situation which the nation currently faces.

In view of the prevalence of such violent attacks, such installations ought to be extended to all public spaces and even private ones where it is possible to do so.

In February this year after a two-day retreat of the Nigeria Police in Uyo that was attended by the Inspector General of Police and 148 senior officers the Police called for a legislation that would compel private citizens, including government agencies to install CCTV on their facilities.

CP Assayomo’s call therefore appears to be a reiteration of an earlier point made by the Police High Command. Worshippers of God now realize that they cannot depend on faith alone, The Trumpet gathered.

The days when we would say “God will protect us” and leave things there are over. We are currently dealing with godless individuals who have no regard for the sanctity of places and human life. Nigerians must face up to the fact we must sit up and play an active part in our own protection while praying to God for divine assistance. Unusual times call for unusual measures.

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The minor argument that CCTV is an infringement on people’s privacy cannot hold water given the very real security threats that plague Nigeria daily.

Besides, given the very real advantages of having the CCTV installed, there ought to be a rethink. The truth is that security in Church premises and Mosques cannot be left to church and Mosque leaders alone. Government has an obligation to install surveillance cameras in all major towns and cities in the country.

So, while cameras installed by faith and business organisations could cover their premises, those in the streets will cover all other areas. We are baffled that the CCTV installation projects designed for Abuja and Lagos did not take off. Are there some powerful interests that do not want the land secured?

Criminals would think twice about committing a crime if they knew they would be caught on camera during their nefarious activities. People can be identified not only by facial recognition but by gait, body size, clothing, voice, etc. This will go a long way towards helping security agents to identify perpetrators, making it easier to catch them. This will not only improve public safety, reduce crime rates, and help in catching criminals, but it will also serve as evidence when criminals are brought to court.

There are more than 1800 CCTV cameras in the city of Nairobi alone monitored at the Kenya National Police Services Traffic Command and Control Centre pointed at strategic places across the city. Nigeria has no such thing. The CCTV project begun in Abuja fizzled out due to fraud and corruption.

It has therefore become pertinent for corporations and individuals to take some of the responsibility and cost for CCTV around public places such as places of worship, malls, shopping centres, banks and so on. Nigerians can no longer afford to leave every aspect of its security to the authorities.

It is now necessary for Nigerians to learn the basics of self-defense and survival tactics. Given the typically delayed response of our security operatives, self-defense and survival tactics might mean the difference between life and death. Everyone must also learn to be vigilant.

We must all activate the “amebo” in us and be quick to notice unusual situations, unfamiliar faces, and suspicious behaviour. Churches and Mosques can easily raise funds for CCTV around their premises. We are the most religious nation on earth – we should therefore, put our money where our mouth is. Wealthy corporations such as Dangote, BUA, Elumelu Foundation, and banks could contribute by funding CCTV cameras for public hospitals and markets as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Indeed, this will benefit the economy in the long run since foreign investors will be attracted to Nigeria. We are also in a campaigns’ season. Our politicians could add this item to their campaign manifesto to show their commitment to public safety.

On the individual level, people with the means should install cameras in their premises. The government on its part should do the same along our local roads, highways, around schools and other public institutions. Security is everybody’s business. But the buck stops at the desk of government, both the federal and state governments.

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