The House of Representatives committee investigating the provision of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in Abuja and Lagos has described the whole project as a failure.
The Chairman of the committee, Representative Ahmed Yerima, who said this, noted that the failure of the project to meet its objectives has also cost the Federal Government a huge sum of money, apart from the initial contract cost of 150 billion naira.
Some security experts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) also attributed the recent increase in crime rate within the Abuja metropolis and the inability of security agents to track culprits to the purported failed project.
One of the experts, Mr Kelvin Eyneface, said that the project was poorly implemented and impinged on the efforts of security agents to secure the installations.
The installation of CCTV cameras follows the October 1, 2010 bombing and the suicide bombing at the United Nations building to mention a few, in Nigeria’s capital.
The objective was for security agents to check, track and arrest criminals who pose threats to the security of the Federal Capital Territory and other big cities in the country, as obtainable in the developed world.
Four hundred and seventy million dollars ($470 million) was said to have been spent to install the surveillance cameras in Lagos and Abuja.
Three years after the Abuja CCTV project was completed in 2014, the cameras are reported to have stopped functioning.
An investigative tour of the Abuja metropolis by Channels Television crew also revealed that most of the CCTV cameras installed have been vandalised, as 1000 surveillance cameras were mounted in Abuja to boost security.
The House of Representatives on Thursday began hearing on the failed contract for the installation of CCTV cameras in Abuja and Lagos.
At the hearing, the former Managing Director of the Nigeria Communication Satellite Ltd, Engineer Ahmed Rufai, placed the blame on the Federal Government for the failure of the $470 million National Public Security Communication Project.
Some of the agencies present at the hearing denied having any knowledge of the project or being involved in it.
The Chairman of the House committee investigating the CCTV contract, Ahmed Yerima, and the Chief Whip of the House, Garba Alhassan, spoke on the focus of the investigation.
According to report, the House had investigated the issue before in the 7th Assembly without coming out with a verdict.
The committee, however, gave the assurance that they would complete their own investigation as speedily as possible to ensure the project helps address the country’s security challenges.
Following a bomb blast in Nyanya Motor Park in Abuja, on Monday, the Deputy Director, Public Relations of the Department of State Security (DSS), Marilyn Ogar, on Wednesday announced that the government had provided a national emergency short code, 112 as part of the efforts to combat terrorism and other life-threatening issues.
The 112 short code is toll free.
She made the announcement while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, stressing that the number, which was provided by the Nigerian Communications Commission, had been in existence for some time.
The attack on the bus park, which no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for, led to the death of over 70 people, injuring over 100 others.
The DSS spokesperson, who said the agency had carried out sensitisation activities in motor parks after the bomb blast in a Kano bus park, chose not to blame anyone for the attack but went further to state that all Nigerians were at fault.
Asked if security measures adopted for motor parks in conjunction with the police had been relaxed, Ogar said: “The fight on terror is quite new to us and you must keep at it on a continuous basis”. She further assured Nigerians that the agency had engaged proprietors and stakeholders of the park.
“I think it’s our thing. We are quite complacent. When an event happens, everybody talks and goes at it but once there’s a little bit of respite, we all go back to sleep.”
“The best form of defense is awareness. Be aware and alert always. I want to also say security forces have severally embarked on sensitaisation, awareness and trying to bring up to consciousness of people or operators of various motor parks,” she said.
She stressed that the agency had not given up its duties, regarding information-gathering on criminals, but called on citizens to be more vigilant as “you cannot have security agents on every street and in every nook and cranny of the country. We need people to give us information”.
The Federal Government has invested a lot in fighting terrorism and ending the Boko Haram insurgency, suspected to be responsible for the Nyanya blast. However, Ogar said the only way to succeed was for the citizens to set aside politics and other elements that divided them to combat the menace collectively.
“If we must rid the society of terrorism, then there must be a collective drive irrespective of tribe, religion, political affiliation and age. It must be all collective,” she said, urging citizens to be security conscious at home, business, worship areas and anywhere else.
She insisted that criticism would be pointless and advised that “instead of sitting down and criticising when we have some misfortunes, we must collectively come together as a people”.
Ogar posited that “what happened in Nyanya could have been avoided if people did what they needed to do. I wouldn’t really want to say I want to blame any person. I want to say that we all as Nigerians have failed.”
She, however, pointed out that security agencies in Nigeria were not sleeping,
“All security forces are on the red alert. We are re-strategising, bringing up new methods and best practices (as to) how we would be able to stem this evil scourge.”
“I think the time has come for Nigerians to rise up collectively and begin to work towards bringing this whole thing to an end.”
She disclosed that plans were underway to install CCTV cameras at motor parks and further called on citizens to note some security tips, urging them to be vigilant in regarding new faces in the environment, unknown cars parked without notice at public places, commercial or residential areas, strange objects, containers.
She further urged citizens not to leave items such as drums and broken chairs beside their fences.
In case of bomb blasts, they should not go near the scene or tamper with objects there.
All religious centres are to have their own local committees to keep watch over vehicles, and events in and around the centres.
To assure investors that Bayelsa state is a peaceful and investment haven, the state government has paid the sum of N1.7 billion to Wawin Technology, a Chinese firm, for the installation of CCTV cameras across the state.
The payment was made during the monthly transparency briefing held at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa, where it was revealed that the payment is an initial deposit of 30 percent for the contract for a ‘Safe City, Safe State’ security agreement.
Bayelsa state Governor, Seriake Dickson explained that the security deal would ensure electronic surveillance of the state.
He noted that security was cardinal to the transformational agenda of his administration, and that the contractor would complete the project before government will pay the balance.
The transparency briefing also afforded the government the opportunity of informing its citizens of the total financial balance of the state as N29.53 billion and that the state was not owing any contractor just as it was servicing debts inherited from previous administration.
The governor also announced that the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) profile of the state had risen to over N1.3 billion due to a combination of policies, sacrifices and understanding by civil servants.