Against the background of security threats posed by over 100 abandoned properties that litter in Victoria Island and Ikoyi areas of Lagos, residents of the two communities under the aegis of Victoria Island, Ikoyi Security and Environment Trust (VIISET), have called on the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode to come to their aid by addressing the challenge as a matter of urgency.
VIISET is a brainchild of Victoria Island and Ikoyi Residents’ Association (VIIRA), an advocacy group which has over the years engaged past administrations in the state over the issue of abandoned properties within the two highbrow neighbourhoods.
The Chairperson, Board of Trustees (BOT) of VIISET, Mrs. Francesca Emmanuel, who spoke to journalists during the launch of membership drive for VIISET and VIIRA in Lagos last week, decried that miscreants take advantage of these abandoned buildings which are in their hundreds, by hiding in them thereby constituting security threats to residents, business owners and workers who eke a living in the communities.
Mrs. Emmanuel, former Federal Permanent Secretary said the association has lately got in touch with the Police authorities by sending them a list of the confirmed abandoned properties within the communities, adding that this is a precautionary measure to nipping the activities of miscreants who may be converging in these abandoned properties to carry out their attacks on the neighbourhoods.
Stating however, that VIISET was created in 2007 as an intervention of the executive arm of VIIRA, Mrs. Emmanuel disclosed that the association takes premium on the security of lives and property in the communities, as well as improvement of infrastructure in the communities.
According to her, VIISET initiated the first corporate and individual support for the provision of equipment to security agencies in the communities, especially the Nigerian Police Force in 2002, adding that this initiative led the way to the creation of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund.
To continue to improve the security situation as well as the public infrastructure in Victoria Island and Ikoyi communities, the former Permanent Secretary said: “Our objective now is to solicit the support of the media for our programme to increase the individual and corporate membership of VIISET and VIIRA. Our prospective members are all who are resident or do businesses in these two districts.
“What is special about this effort is the collaboration of the Lagos State chapter of the National Youth Service Corps, which has sent a team of youth corps members to participate in a moderated data gathering of eligible and prospective individuals and corporate bodies under their Community Development Service (CDS) programme.
“It is our hope that through this joint venture, this programme will stand as a model for other Residents Associations, and further introduce our youths to a desired involvement in the community activities,’’ Mrs. Emmanuel noted.
Also, the Executive Secretary, VIISET, Alhaji Abdul Latif Muse, pointed that the issue of abandoned properties in the Victoria Island and Ikoyi communities calls for collaboration, adding that ‘’owing to the fact that we are at the receiving end of the consequence of this menace, we have over the years involved the state government through the Ministry of Physical Planning, the Local Government Authorities, as well as the Police.
“The list of abandoned properties that we have generated are about 100, and we have submitted the list to the state authorities. Since this issue remains a concern to us, we will continue to bring it up at every forum, as an advocacy group, until we have a conclusive resolution by relevant government authorities,” he said.
On his part, Mr. Mohammed Salami, member of VIIRA/VIISET and erstwhile Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Management Board, urged the state government to ensure it lights up streets in Victoria Island and Ikoyi in order to tackle the insecurity situation in the area.
Salami said the state government should maintain the street lights in the communities, noting that certain streets which once had street lights have had their lights gone bad over the years, with no response from the authorities.
He said the mounting of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras was a noble idea in the communities, pointing out however, that they are irrelevant with the attendant epileptic power supply in the country.
Originally published in The Vanguard