Boko Haram scare: No cause for concern in shopping malls

SHOPRITE-CopyFollowing recent terrorist attacks on shopping malls across the world, major mart stores in the country have increased security consciousness to protect the lives and property of shoppers and visitors to the malls.

The shopping mall, an American adaptation, where goods and services are displayed for marketing purposes, is built to attract majorly sightseeing tourists and fun-seeking citizens. The mall experience is relatively new in the country with the emergence of ShopRite, Silver Bird galleria, and Ozone among a few others. Unfortunately, the development of malls is under security threat due to the Boko Haram insurgency.

With a misguided delight taken by the insurgents to bomb public places, shopping malls have been one of their main targets alongside motor-parks, religious places, markets and schools.

In Abuja last year, Emab Plaza located in Wuse District was bombed and 21 lives were lost, while 17 people got injured. Also in Jos, a restaurant sited in a mosque was bombed, leaving 44 people dead.

Though these bombings have taken place in the north, the Department of State Security (DSS) recent announcement that Boko Haram insurgents have spread their tentacles to other parts of the country, including Lagos, have jolt many people.

According to the DSS, nine Boko Haram suspects were arrested in Lagos, which is not good news to Lagosians, particularly business owners like shopping mall operators. This has also led to heightened apprehension and security tightening in most public parks and shopping malls.

In a chat with The Guardian, Dominic Nwabueze, a contractor and regular visitor to ShopRite in Surulere, says he does not feel threatened coming to the mall because the security checks put in place by the mall operator is up to standard and good enough to keep him safe.

Tochukwu Stephanie, a University of Lagos student, says she goes to Silverbird galleria at least twice a week to relax and hang out with family and friends. Tochukwu further acknowledged that she gets scared sometimes, but trust in the security apparatus put in place to secure the lives of visitors.

A security officer at one of the malls, who pleaded for anonymity, said body search is carried out on all visitors with an hand-held scanner device to ensure no illegal materials are brought into the mall. In addition to that, there are Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras mounted everywhere for the purpose of keeping a watchful eye on everyone, not just for possible bomb attack but also guard against robbery and kidnapping.

He added that the bomb-detecting machine is used to check all the cars at the car park and they are very vigilant so people can feel safe and relaxed within the mall.

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