The rising insecurity in Nigeria and weaknesses in the country’s security architecture have put a spotlight on the need to deploy Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in public places in line with international standards.
CCTV is an electronic surveillance system invented to monitor premises, buildings, and individuals, which has become a mainstream crime detection tool as well as a prevention strategy.
According to security experts and analysts, Nigeria at this time must move away from the traditional model of securing its territory and bring in tested technologies that have been successfully deployed in advanced economies.
However, because of the rising insecurity and crime in the country, the need for CCTV installation is also rising, as most officials are beginning to consider it as a way of curbing and averting crime.
Rotimi Akeredolu, executive governor of Ondo State, after the Owo church massacre, signed an executive order for the compulsory installation and use of CCTV devices in all public and private institutions in the state.
Ahmed Lawan, the Senate president, expressed disappointment during his visit to the invaded Kuje prison as he observed that there was no CCTV camera mounted in the area.
In 2010, the Nigerian government awarded a $470 million contract for the installation of 2,000 cameras in Lagos and Abuja and about $400 million was provided by the Chinese Exim bank, for the Chinese firm ZTE to execute the project, which proved abortive 12 years later.
BusinessDay reached out to security and IT experts who spoke on how investment in CCTV cameras can tackle crime and insecurity in the country.
A top Nigerian police officer, who pleaded to remain anonymous, said investment in CCTV would go a long way in fighting crime as it would help in criminal detection if properly documented.
“CCTV captures persons, objects, and images within its focal point. This way, the identities of hoodlums, terrorists, unknown gunmen, or offenders are exposed and may be apprehended. Hoodlums hate being exposed and oftentimes mask themselves to avoid such. If hoodlums contemplate exposure or arrest, they caution themselves against criminal activities and this reduces insecurity,” the officer said.
He explained that for this to be very effective, Nigeria should comprehensively profile its citizens and residents in the country, such that their names, addresses, places of work, finger impressions, among others, are all contained in their national identification numbers and duly registered with the appropriate authorities.
He said there should be machines and trackers to help fish out the identified hoodlums.
On the side of personnel to handle this technology, he said most of the security agencies have the skilled manpower to perform but lack the necessary equipment.
“Some of the security agencies in Nigeria, particularly the Nigeria police force, have the trained experts to operate these machines, but the facilities are grossly inadequate. Globally today, intelligence, which is a function of security technologies like drones, spy planes, distance cameras, and CCTV, is trending. The use of force like arms, bombs, and explosives should be the last resort and that depends on the credible intelligence available,” he said.
Nigerian CCTV market
CCTV experts told BusinessDay that the devices are imported and there is no specific market for CCTV in the country.
Tunde Momo, a CCTV importer and seller, said there are many brands of CCTV coming from India, China, and Britain, among others. He said China remains the major distributor of CCTV to Nigeria because of its affordability.
“We have some brand names from different countries like Hik-vision, Dahua, Scalp view, Real link, and other brands from China. You can crest yours or you brand yours when you get there but we usually use branded names like SK version, Dawuwa, and Real link. We have the HD and IP cameras of it. One can fix and view the IP camera from anywhere irrespective of where it is installed, when it is configured,” Momo said.
Momo said most of the cameras are backed with internet and solar because of the electricity situation in the country.
He said, “We don’t use American standard cameras here in Nigeria because they are NTSC which have a different colour and audio and do not match with Nigeria. It is mainly used in America but if you want to use it in Nigeria then they have to produce the one with a Tri-band to accommodate our own network. We use PAL here in Nigeria and it has the same standard as Britain, China, Taiwan, and Singapore which we used directly once imported.”
He explained that the price of CCTV depends on the cameras. “One of the cameras of the Real link is about N60, 000 and the IP camera of that Real link is almost the same price as that of Dawuwa too which you can configure and view from any location once connected, while you can only view the HD according to where it is programmed.”
According to him, the British camera is the most expensive because of the high quality it possesses with its eight and 16 camera channels going about N800,000 per set.
Speaking about the voltage of the cameras, the importer said, “American cameras are mostly 120 volts but most of the ones we use here are usually 220 volts. Britain, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan are all 220 volts but mainly we buy those from China.”
Chibuike Anaebom, a CCTV installer, said investment in CCTV cameras will reduce crime if adequate measures are put in place to maintain the technology.
He said: “In the past, CCTV used to be somewhat scarce but has now become a necessity in a nation like Nigeria dominated by insecurity and crime. The installation of CCTV cameras in environments, roads, business centres, and offices will go a long way to fight crime and bring criminals to book.
“When there is a surveillance camera in a particular environment and a negative event occurs, you just need to go back to your CCTV recorder and find out how it actually happened and that is the first step of the investigation.”
While speaking about the way the devices can function effectively, the installer explained that it must be made compulsory for everyone to have biometric registration.
Anaebom said: “When everyone’s data is provided, we will be able to know the residents because you cannot really work on CCTV cameras if you don’t have the data set aside to assist it. You must have face match data containing the face of every citizen and when this information is available then the cameras can be installed.
“If you get the face that commits a crime, you will search for the face match that will assist in pulling out the person’s identity, state of origins, status, relation, and residence which will now help in fishing the person out and with these, you now see that CCTV is a big goal for the country.”
John Ojikutu, aviation security personnel, said consideration should also be given to technicians and personnel that will control and monitor the devices.
He said: “Installing CCTV is desirable but manning with skilled manpower. It is very essential because the equipment alone cannot be effective for the purpose of the installation otherwise it will serve no useful purpose beyond a standing mirror.
“Today, there is an alternative power supply in solar but the priority is skilled manpower in sufficient numbers with technical background for the required regular manning and for the periodic maintenance. If these cannot be provided to sustain 24-hour operations, then the planning should not even begin.”