By OKOSUN DENNIS
It is fast becoming a norm rather than the exception to see an average Nigerian built a house without surrounding it with high rise fence.
Often times, most houses that dot the nooks and crannies of the streets with elevated fenced walls have reduced the aesthetic quality to mere prison yard.
Some of the fences are high enough to swallow most buildings especially bungalows in some highbrow areas of the country.
Beyond the fascia are the inscrutability of what happens within the confines; a thing that have continued to puzzle Nigerians until the arrest of a notorious kidnapper called Evans.
However, the arrest of Chukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike aka Evans, one of the most notorious and richest kidnappers in the country recently threw up a lot of security issues and concern.
Why some tried to know the rationale why it was impossible for the security agencies or neighbours to detect his atrocities until he was arrested by the police in highbrow area, Magodo in Lagos, others are of the view that the fences in most of the houses he was using could have prevented it cum early detection.
Some questions, hitherto, raised include: Why was it possible for Evans to have operated for years, keeping several detention camps in densely populated residential areas unnoticed and why the neighbours found it extremely difficult to know on time?
What is obtainable in other climes
In developed societies, high-rise fence is hardly seen. Where such fences around living accommodation exist at all, it is very low to the extent that one can see through it.
However, not so with walls that bounded boundaries between one or more countries.
When the Indians decided to build a great border wall against Bangladesh; a barbed-wire fence on the India- Bangladesh border which measured about 8-foot-high, double-walled, barbed-wire fence and draped with laundry menaces between Sutia, India, and Dhannokulla, Bangladesh, it was met to address the problem of migrations.
Immigrants could easily walk through from Sutia to Dhannokulla without jumping huge fence. However, Great Wall of India started to mitigate the buffoonery of illegal immigrants but not so with high fenced surrounding residential buildings which has reduced most living quarters to mere prisons.
However, since in the mid-1980s, New Delhi has raised a fence along roughly 70% of India’s 2,544-mile border with Bangladesh. Smartly, India says its fence is meant to prevent terrorism, smuggling, and “infiltration” into the country.
In the same vein, during its Presidential campaigns, US President Donald Trump decided to inject into his campaign promises to build a wall that would cut out migration from Mexico into the United States of America, but Erika Bolstad of E&E News wrote and described it as “Pharaonic project” and a misplaced infrastructure priority.
Notwithstanding obvious criticisms, it was met to address the issue of migration especially among drug users and other hardened criminals.
Despite the inherent advantages ascribed to such walls, some security experts and individuals are of the view that having high fence does not necessarily stop criminals penetrating into compound to wreak havoc.
When National Daily went out to sample Nigerians opinion about the difficulties encountered detecting criminals such as the kidnap kingpin, Evans, some said the culture of having high fences has made it possible for people to commit heinous crimes undetected within the circumference of their compound.
However, the former Commissioner of Police, Lagos state, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav expressed his reservation against high rise fences as presently the case in most urban areas.
He told National Daily that “the increasing incidents of kidnapping in Nigeria and the establishment of illegal detention Centres by these kidnappers and the Federal and State Governments lack of policy directives” make it easier for criminals to operate behind those walls unseen.
“Government should enunciate policies against building high wall fences around homes,” he said.
He reiterated that it has become a norm rather than the exception to know our neighbours. Explaining further, he noted that “We should adopt the policy of knowing our neighbours.”
Also, Rotimi Aromolaran, a security expert observed that in some countries, the standard height of a fence is “specifically designed and limited” and for anyone to exceed the limit, automatically requires a special permit.
He explained that one of the purposes of fencing is to “enclose an area against unwanted intruders, which has so many alternatives to high rise fences. Reiterating, he added that one of them is Electric fence or steel/iron fence.
From the standpoint of what has been happening in some part of the country, especially as people have been mauled to death within the circumference of their fenced buildings, Aromolaran noted that “A Jericho wall-type of fence is a great disadvantage to the owner even to the neighbourhood.
Highlighting some disadvantages inherent in building high fences, said such fences apart from “alienating the residents from the Neighbourhood,” it prevents “police rescue team when there is any distress call; distance good Samaritan from immediate help in case of an incident in addition to reducing the beauty of the building and obstruct occupants’ from natural fresh air.
Research shows that that high fence possesses “high risk” than low fence as it will control the ambition of some bad boys.
Aromolaran added that in “most civilized countries, they don’t fence their buildings, no burglary proof and no key to the inner rooms. Unfortunately in Nigeria, it is a sorry case, where fencing is the first assignment before the building itself.
However, Matthew Aigbe, a psychology sees it from a different perspective. Why supporting the erection of high fence, he explained that people resort to building high fences with the thinking that it would provide “semblance of protection” from the vagaries of criminal attacks.
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He observed that the moment one’s dwelling place is secured, all one needs is an “aesthetic parameter fencing” but if on the contrary, security is at its lowest ebb, “the erection of maximum height with barbed wires are inevitable.”
Aigbe further told National Dailythat such high fence gives the occupant of such building “a semblance of protection as it makes the intruder to know that the inhabitants are aware of their environment and are willing to do anything to protect themselves.
As a way of mitigating the use of high fences, Aigbe recommended the use of cameras and drones which are more effective. Making allusion to once most dangerous part of South Africa, -Hibrow in Johannesburg – observed that crime has been reduced to the barest minimum with the use of Cable Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras and canines.
Alternatively, he added that where there is the choice of anyone taking the option of low fence considering that some expresses apprehension with low fenced buildings, noted that such could be complimented by the use of “electric barbed wire and hiring of private security patrols.”
The arrest of the kidnapperChukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike aka Evans has opened up a lot of questions both fathomable and unfathomable. National Daily gathered that people are now more circumspect, inquisitive and asking more questions about who and what their neighbours do against the status quo that no cognisance was given to such a thing.
Investigations also revealed that based on the unfolding scenario, people are beginning to re-examine the way they build fences even though nobody has actually, since then, pulled down the “wall of Jericho” surrounding their buildings for low fence structure.
However, behind the inscrutability of what goes on inside such fenced apartment, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav warned that “If there is a house or houses where the same group of people visit only in the night or at odd times, and these people do not live in such houses, and the houses are always in perpetual darkness, the Police should be immediately notified.”
Some are also of the view that the high rate of criminalities forced people to erect high fence to prevent people from gaining entrance easily. But the Chief Executive Officer of August Eye Security Limited, Mr Roy Okhidievbie sees it differently.
To him, the moment criminals are able to get access into such high fenced compound, they would do nonsensical things without the neighbours getting to know about it. Therefore, he cautioned residents not to get carried away by the impression that with high fences, they are immune to attack by criminals.
Roy noted that given peculiar circumstances here and the high crime wave, people should imbibe the culture of reducing their fences to make it possible for outsiders to see-through as that would make it possible for outsiders or neighbours to see, hear negative things or someone committing out havoc inside such compound.
Above all, moderation remains the most potent thing as far as building fences is concern. After all, protecting against these vagaries does not lie on the nature of fence really but on the supreme protection that comes from the creator.
Against all odds, it is said, “prevention is better than cure.” Fencing is good and helpful but shouldn’t be sure that emasculate your defence against criminals