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Opinions

#EndSARS: How tech innovations could fit into the call for Police Reforms

The reform process of the Nigerian Police could go a long way with the adoption of tech innovations in modern policing.

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Endsars Protests: Police Personnel Were Professional and Exercised Maximum Restraints - Igp Tells Amnesty Int’l

In the wake of nationwide protests for the disbandment of F-SARS, due to several reports of extrajudicial killings, extortions, unlawful detentions, tortures, and rascality, the Inspector-General of Police announced the disbandment of the unit and set up a new Police outfit known as Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), to fill the gaps arising from the dissolution of SARS.

As Nigerians call for the total reform of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), one key area that changes are expected is the adoption of technology. Emerging technology would play a fundamental role and improve the way the police interact with citizens.

Globally, the success of police reforms has been linked to the adoption of police technology. The adoption of technology in the reform process for citizen interactions can then have serious implications for the social control that police have over citizens, the civil liberties citizens enjoy, police accountability, and the legitimacy that the police hold in Nigeria.

There are innovations that are shaping the future of policing which begins with the adoption of emerging technologies that support new concepts of operations, enabling the interventions, transparency, accountability, legitimacy, and also expand social control and relationships that keep society safe.

Some of these emerging innovations include but are not limited to:

  • Body Worn Camera (BWC): Body cameras can help bring transparency to the new SWAT interactions, especially in the aftermath of allegations of use of force, shootings, or exploitations. Video of police officers doing their jobs in challenging situations used to be rare;, it is ubiquitous, as seen in a number of high-profile incidents that have drawn intense public and media scrutiny. In addition to being smaller, less cumbersome, and more durable, some body-worn cameras are designed to better integrate with in-car systems to provide synchronized video of an event from multiple points of view. Other advancements include higher resolution, clearer audio, wider fields of vision, and heightened resistance to environmental conditions – such as extreme heat or cold. Related technology now includes smart holsters that are designed to activate the body camera anytime the officer draws his or her firearm. At least one manufacturer of body-worn police technology makes a camera capable of issuing an alert during intense situations. On the horizon, it could also be equipped with facial recognition capabilities.
  • Ariel & Visual Surveillance: Adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are increasingly being used by police to gain aerial vantage points for crime scenes globally, search and rescue efforts, accident reconstruction, crowd monitoring and more. Some of the more sophisticated models can be equipped with thermal imaging or 3D mapping software to offer GPS-enhanced precision to the areas being surveyed. Many police drones and UAVs are also equipped with zoom cameras, making them incredibly valuable for delivering actionable, real-time intel in high-risk – armed and dangerous situations.
  • Internet Of Things (IoT) — Smart Sensors: Smart sensors can be used to compile different types of information, to help officers do their jobs faster and more effectively. New capabilities can log locations, listen for gunshots, stream video, flag license plates, scan databases, and go on virtual patrol, allowing officers unprecedented awareness in their environments. These capabilities can provide the raw data which more detailed analytics can use to likely enhance efficiencies and expedite investigations. Most importantly, these technologies can help officers be in the right place, at the right time. Every investigative journey begins with collecting facts about the world. Traditionally, this work has been tough. It could mean relying on an officer’s memory of a license plate to look out for, or long hours searching for the right pieces of information. It often means being there, to see, hear, and deter – yet, no department can be everywhere. However, new technologies, like the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart sensors can be there when needed.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence is used for “predictive policing.” Utilizing deep learning algorithms, programmers can train computers to analyze data from a vast array of sources and categories to actually predict when and where crimes are likely to occur, increasing the likelihood that officers will be in the right place at the right time. Predictive policing involves using algorithms to analyze massive amounts of information in order to predict and help prevent potential future crimes. Place-based predictive policing – the most widely practiced method, typically uses preexisting crime data to identify places and times that have a high risk of crime. Person-based predictive policing, on the other hand, attempts to identify individuals or groups who are likely to commit a crime – or to be a victim of one – by analyzing for risk factors such as past arrests or victimization patterns. Proponents of predictive policing argue that computer algorithms can predict future crimes more accurately and objectively than police officers relying on their instincts alone. Some also argue that predictive policing can provide cost savings for police departments, by improving the efficiency of their crime-reduction efforts.
  • Augmented Reality: Advances in areas such as 5G communication, electronics miniaturization, and augmented reality allows people to see, hear, and act in ways that were previously impossible. This could be effectively used for a virtual shooting range for the new SWAT officers which would reduce costs and make them smarter at arms handling. Also, an officer arriving at an unfamiliar situation, can now use augmented reality glasses to see pertinent information about prior calls for service from this address, find exits from a building, or see the recent crime history on the block. With this information, an officer could take precautions to protect themselves and even better serve the public.
  • Online Community Platform: The mission of law enforcement is the safety of the community, and a strong relationship with the community is critical to the success of every law enforcement organization. The force could employ a decentralized information system like mobile apps or USSD platforms where citizens can report minor issues such as graffiti or suspicious activities to them, giving police real-time awareness, dynamic prioritization of calls, and the freedom to focus on the most pressing challenges. Leveraging this, the Police can create more opportunities for positive interactions, while working to leverage the expertise, resources, and local knowledge of key stakeholders in the community. Using both technology and training, police could make it easier for constituents to support public safety, helping to make community-law enforcement relationships healthier and more productive.
  • Robots: Globally, many law enforcement agencies are now using next-generation robotic cameras to deliver visual and audio surveillance of potential crime scenes, that may be too dangerous or too hard for officers to reach. Some of these devices are even “throwable” (up to 120 feet and capable of withstanding repeated 30-foot drops) – powered by an electric motor and equipped with high-tech wheels that enable it to move, climb, and explore even the most challenging spaces, while being operated wirelessly by a trained officer. Automaker Ford has filed a patent for a self-driving police car equipped with artificial intelligence and designed to catch violators of traffic laws or impaired drivers by transmitting information to human officers or carrying an optional passenger officer who could make arrests. China is developing an “AnBot” robot to patrol banks, airports, and schools. Also in Dubai, patrolling tourist attractions with a touchscreen-equipped robot officer is now on duty.

Bottomline

Finally, let’s follow the evidence showing that officers with a college degree use force less often and demonstrate a greater level of creativity and problem-solving. Let there be a change in the current system of police recruitment – a multiple-choice test and interview. Base recruitment and promotions on demonstrated leadership skills, specific education achievements, and a performance history unblemished by misconduct.

There should be strong requirements & processes in place that can check for the skills and characteristics we expect of police before they’re put in a live situation. SWAT Patrol should be based on the capacity for emotional regulation – so officers don’t fall on the use of force as the first response for a challenge to their authority.

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Who our police officers are, and how they are held accountable, is crucial to boosting public confidence and trust. If we want deep transformation – true culture change of law enforcement, we need to have some adaptations of police technology.


Written by Victor Tubotamuno

Nairametrics frequently publishes articles from experts such as financial analysts, economists, researchers and investors. We also feature articles from guest writers and bloggers who wish to push their views and opinions through our platform.To get your articles on Nairametrics, kindly send an email to [email protected] and we will publish it within 24 hours of approval by our editorial team.

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Blurb

Dangote Sugar records revenue boost despite inflation and Apapa gridlock

Dangote Sugar has revealed it increased prices in the first quarter of 2021 to mitigate the problems of rising inflation and depreciation.

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Dangote Sugar proposes N18.2 billion as final dividend for 2020

One of Nigeria’s largest Sugar manufacturers, Dangote Sugar revealed it increased prices in the first quarter of 2021 to mitigate the problems of rising inflation and depreciation.

In a note to investors, the company revealed its recent 41.5% surge in revenues was due to an increase in sales volume as well as an uptick in price. In the first quarter of 2021, Dangote Sugar posted a revenue of N67.39 billion compared to N47.6 billion, the same period in 2020. The increase in price was driven by 5.7% pop in sales volume as the company sold 200,510 tonnes of sugar in the quarter compared to 189, 724 the same period in 2020.

But while sales value surged by 41.5%, volumes only rose 5.7% suggesting that price increase was a catalyst for the growth in revenue and the company alluded to this in its statement.

READ: Dangote set to earn N13 billion in dividend from his sugar business

Dangote Sugar’s performance

“Group sales volume increased in the quarter by 5.7% to 200,510 tonnes (2020: 189,724 tonnes). Growth continued to benefit from the sustained efforts to drive customer base expansion, several trade initiatives and investments. Group production volume also increased by 4.3% to 200,783 tonnes (2020: 192,584 tonnes) due to our operations optimization strategy despite the challenges of the Apapa traffic situation. Group revenue increased by 41.5% to N67.39 billion (2020: N47.64 billion). Growth in revenue advanced ahead of volume growth due to pricing benefits. Gross profit increased by 41.8% to N18.04 billion (2020: N12.72 billion) on account of better topline performance. EBITDA increased by 34.7% to N17.02 billion (2020: N12.64 billion) on account of increased earnings. Group profit after taxation for the period increased by 30.3% to N8.30 billion (2020: N6.37 billion) reflecting management’s unrelenting drive to deliver consistent shareholder value.”

The company also explained it had no choice but to increase prices because of the impact of the 2020 devaluation, higher inflationary environment, port congestion issues and a rise in global sugar prices. The company imports raw sugar from Brazil, under the government’s backward integration plan.

“We have continued to witness high cost of raw materials, energy costs and other input costs due to rising inflation and FX rate fluctuation. Further cost escalation is anticipated in the year as inflationary pressure mounts,” the company said.

READ: Dangote Sugar yearly revenue surge by 33%, announces a dividend of N1.50

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Dangote vs BUA Sugar Scarcity Controversy

Just last month, the company’s adversary and competitor BUA Group accused Dangote Sugar of conniving with Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) in price-fixing and arbitrary collusion to create sugar scarcity and keep the price of the commodity high.

This triggered Dangote Sugar and FMN into issuing a joint press statement denying the accusations.

The allegation made by BUA was triggered by a joint letter written by John Coumantaros of FMN Plc and Aliko Dangote of Dangote Industries Limited, reporting key developments in the Nigerian Sugar Industry to the Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo.

The duo in the letter dated January 28, 2021, pointed out how BUA’s new sugar refinery in Port Harcourt may lead to a spike above the import quota as stipulated in the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), and how BUA’s investment in the sugar industry via the new refinery is non-compliant to the undertakings under its Backward Integration Programme, in line with local production.

READ: Dangote’s stakes in his sugar enterprise has earned him N90 billion in 365 days

BUA’s response however led to an immediate reply by the duo of Dangote Sugar and Flour Mills of Nigeria.

“In line with this, the Dangote Sugar Refinery wishes to vehemently refute the allegations and assertions made by BUA Sugar Refinery as they are not only false but defamatory, malicious and libellous, as they were geared at tarnishing the good name and brand of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc and Dangote Industries Limited.”

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The Group Managing Director, Mr Ravindra Singhvi, explained that the Dangote Group is socially responsible and considers price-fixing to be unethical and disastrous to the nation’s economy, and as such, the allegations made by BUA is highly mischievous and defamatory and should be considered a malicious attempt to smear the reputation of DSR.

“DSR does not engage in artificial price manipulation of its products, either during the Holy month of Ramadan or at any other time. We have never ever increased the price of our food items or commodities during the Holy month of Ramadan in the history of our operations,” Ravindra Singhvi said.

Outlook for Dangote Sugar

Despite the operational headwinds, the company insist it is on track to improve its operations and seek growth in its sugar sales volumes. It also recently received approval from the government to revise its local sugar production targets to 550,000 metric tonnes annually from over 1 million metric tonnes annually.

“Despite these uncertainties, achievement of our Sugar for Nigeria Backward Integration Project goal remains a key priority, though we anticipate increase in cost to completion in Naira-terms and some delays in Letter of Credit establishment for the importation of plant and equipment. The focus is to achieve the Federal Government’s revised sugar production target of 550,000 metric tonnes annually by 2024. We remain confident of the huge benefits the Backward Integration Programme would deliver and the positive impacts it will have on the economy.”

Find out why Dangote Sugar is recommended as a buy in our Stock Select Portfolio Newsletter? Click here.

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Columnists

What FGN Free Meter Program means for the power sector

Without effective penalties for erring DisCos and consumers, progress may still remain very slow.

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Electricity, Buhari moves against Discos and agents that collect money for prepaid meters

According to news reports, the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh on Wednesday said the distribution of the four million free electricity prepaid meters pledged by the Central Bank of Nigeria would soon begin across the country.

According to him, the government is wrapping up the distribution of its initial one million meters, which he labelled phase zero, and would soon begin the distribution of the four million sponsored by CBN, which he tagged phase two. He also noted that the Federal Executive Council approved N3bn for the execution of six major electricity projects in the country to upgrade Nigeria’s electricity facilities and improve power supply across the country.

Ineffective metering remains a major drawback to the success of power sector reforms in Nigeria. While some consumers avoid paying for power consumed through meter bypass, some other consumers are made to pay for what they have not consumed through estimated billing by DisCos.

DisCos have been largely unsuccessful with metering their customers.

As far as inadequate metering is concerned, DisCos over time, have used this situation to their advantage via estimated billings. It appears that fully metering customers are currently being viewed as a disincentive, given that estimated bills can easily be manipulated.

According to a report by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), only 4,234,759 (40.27%) of the total customer population of 10,516,090 were metered as of 30 June 2020. Clearly, this validates the widely held view that there are a wide number of customers on estimated billing which gives room for illegal connection to the networks and in turn corrupt practices. NERC further revealed that only three out of 11 Electricity Distribution Companies in the country had metered more than 50% of electricity customers under their coverage areas as of June 2020.

Effective metering in our view is one step ahead in solving the myriad of problems embattling the Nigerian power sector. Though supposed to be unpaid for, many customers in a bid to avoid the bureaucracy associated with getting meters have paid to get their own meters. We believe the provision of meters to all end-use customers will go a long way in ameliorating the liquidity squeeze in the power sector whilst also providing cashflow to the DisCos for investment in equipment needed to evacuate unused electricity to consumers nationwide.

We laud the FG’s efforts at distributing meters freely to end-users, but we note that without effective penalties for erring DisCos and consumers, progress may still remain very slow.

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CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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