Neighbourhood security: Lagos residents lament rising bills

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Nike Popoola

When you walk through the streets of major estates in the country, especially Lagos, you will easily observe many huge fences, taller than those erected around most Nigerian prisons. And they come in different styles and further fortified with electric wires.

If you care to make more enquiries not minding the bulldogs inside, you will also discover that some of the gates are really bullet proofs.

But many say the cost of securing their homes is beginning to leave a big hole in their pockets.

Mr. Chuk Igwe lives in Magodo Estate, Lagos where he pays N15,000 as monthly salary to his gateman. He also has to contribute N5,000 to the estate security office every month.

He says although there is a police patrol team that attached to the estate, the residents have had to hire the services of private security guards following recurring incidence of armed robbery in some other estates.

Igwe says apart from having a bullet proof gate, he also spends about N240,000 annually as security bills.

”Even though we have a police station in the estate, we still have to protect ourselves in other ways. That is why most of the houses here are fenced. And the fence is complemented with electric wire and gates so that at night, no one dares to go near those houses,” he says.

This situation is not peculiar to Magodo. Another Lagos resident, Mr. Ade Komolafe who lives in Heritage Estate, pays N12,000 monthly to the estate security office.

In his estate, most residents do not have gatemen but they keep trained dogs that are set loose around the estate from midnight.

According to him, ”Some of these dogs cost between N150,000 and N500,000. And because they are special breeds, they feed on special diets.”

In one of the highbrow areas of Lekki, the security rate differs even within the same estate. Mr. John Obinna who resides in one of the estates explains the rationale for the disparity. He says in the day time, OPC guards protect his house and he pays N80,000 while at night, a security outfit supplies the security man that mans the gate till dawn and for this, he pays another N100,000 monthly.

Obinna also has two ‘detective dogs‘, which are also stationed at the gate to his house every night.

He says, ”I bought my dog for N350,000 and spend an average of N25,000 to feed it monthly. In fact, I spend well over N2m on security every year.”

”People who stay in this estate value their lives a lot; they will spend any amount to ensure the safety of the lives of their families.”

Researches have shown that residents who dwell in estates, especially highbrow areas spend a lot of money on security when compared to those in other areas.

Security expenses that estate residents incur include gatemen bills, estate security bills, dog expenses, security fences while some go to the extent of purchasing bullet proof gates.

On the other hand, the open street dwellers place their securities in the hands of the vigilantes and members of OPC (Oodua People‘s Congress) and other militia groups such as Egbesu who charge them quite reasonable prices depending on their locations.

To some who stay in relatively cheap locations, their security bills are understandably lower than estate dwellers in highbrow areas.

For instance, Mr. Kingsley Ovie, who lives in an estate in Ikeja says apart from paying his gateman N10,000 monthly, he pays another N5,000 to the estate security.

He says the trouble of having to pay N15,000 monthly on security alone, which amounts to N180,000 annually, apart from several other essential bills that have to be settled is weighing him down.

Ovie notes that with the current level of development and epileptic power supply in the country, it is difficult for the government to protect the citizens.

He says, ”We have to get back to the basis. If there is regular power supply, government can install CCTV to monitor the streets and enhance the country‘s security system.”

He also says if the state is able to provide adequate security measures that cover every part of the community, what individuals spend on private security at home would have been channeled to other meaningful things.

He also feels that the spate of development in the country will be rapid.

Miss Lara Smith, a resident of Ketu area of Lagos says, ”The security guards lock the gate when it is 12am and would not open it until 5am. If there is any emergency, if you have the phone number of any of the guards, they may come out and open it, if not, and you cannot go out or come in because they will just go away till morning.”

Mr. Bayo lives in a compound of six flats in Ojodu where each house pays N1,500 to the gateman and another N1,000 to vigilante to guard the estate from dusk to dawn.

He says, ”We have to pay the vigilante because if anything is happening and you call the police, they will only come to you in the morning when everything has ended.”

Ahmed Kareem is a mechanic who stays in a compound of 14 flats in Agege. He says that each flat pays N500 to the gateman. They also pay another N1,000 to the OPC for guarding the area from midnight till daybreak while those who have shops on the street pay N1,500.

“The security man is an unarmed guard,” Kareem says, adding, ”I don‘t even think he has a gun. All he does is to alert us if anything is happening. I think everybody is on their own.”

According to him, a major thing that any citizen of a country should enjoy is security; unfortunately, this basic facility is hardly taken seriously by the government, thus placing less value on lives.

Kareem says that the poor state of security in the country has further deepened poverty because the low income earners that have not been able to feed themselves still have to look for money to pay the security bills regularly.


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