By Oladapo Udom
Lagos – The Lagos State Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN) on Tuesday appealed to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to incorporate the group into the security architecture of the state, to reduce criminality.
The Commandant of the Group, Mr James Udoma, made the appeal while speaking to newsmen at the ongoing fifth training of its members on counter terrorism and intelligent training at the Police Training School, Ikeja.
(L-R) James Udoma, Lagos State VGN Commandant, Oluyemi Olaiya, VGN’s Consultant, Segun Musa, Asst. Commander on Strategic Information and Kabiru Mohammed, National Officer
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that over 4,000 personnel would be trained within 16 weeks.
Udoma promised that the group would cooperate fully with the Lagos State Government and the Lagos State Police Command in tackling the security problems in both the rural communities and in the urban centres.
“In recent times, Nigeria has witnessed an upsurge in insecurity in different parts of the country such as insurgency, kidnapping, raping and gruesome killings caused by unidentified criminals.
“VGN, therefore, welcomes all forms of collaboration and synergy with other law enforcement and security agencies in addressing various security threats confronting residents and other rural communities in various parts of the country,” he said.
The commandant noted that the main agenda of community policing is to facilitate collaborative efforts between various community members and the police, which the group had been positioned to do.
Udoma said that the group was able to apprehend the kingpin of ‘Badoo’, a notorious cult sector, terrorising Ikorodu area of Lagos State.
“We are very active in our operations, but lack assistance from the local, state and Federal Governments has been hampering us .
“We carry out our operations within the state, even without any payment and support from the government.
“The community members are the vigilante members who seek information and intelligence in their domains, and fish the criminals out,” he said.
VGN members during training at Police Training School, Ikeja, Lagos
Udoma commended the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in accommodating the VGN and giving them the necessary intelligence and training on how to curb crimes.
“With this, we have achieved a lot in Lagos State, especially, in the arrests of armed robbers operating within Badagry, Ojo and in other parts.
“The synergy between the police and the VGN ensures that our men are trained and upgraded to the standards required to carry out security operations in the country,” he said.
Udoma urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign into law the bill which would incorporate VGN as a security architectural institution in the country.
He said that the bill which had already been passed by the National Assembly ( NASS) was awaiting the assent of President Buhari to become law.
Also, Mr Oluyemi Olaiya, the Chief Executive Officer, OSJONES International and consultant to VGN, said that the contributions of the group in combating crime in the country could not be overemphasised.
Olaiya noted that aside the VGN, there was no other paramilitary group that had been involved in combating the Boko Haram insurgents in the country.
He said that the civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) known for its gallantry efforts toward curbing the activities of the insurgents, originated from the group.
“VGN’s support in combating crime and promoting peace is very significant. That is why the JTF had to be carved out of the VGN to assist the police and other security agencies in reducing crimes in the country.
“The achievement of VGN in curbing local-stemmed crimes cannot be over emphasised because it is the citizens of each locality who understand the terrain that are usually employed to tackle insecurity as it emerges there.
“VGN has been tremendously used to curtail and nip in the bud the activities of local criminals in the county,” the consultant said.
Also speaking, Mr Kabiru Mohammed, a National Officer of the group, said that all VGN members had been captured by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Interior, and were awaiting their service numbers.
“If any other local security outfit member is parading himself or herself as a member of VGN, such person will be caught because the person will have no service number to identify himself,” Mohammed said.