The Commander General and National Chairman of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), Navy Capt Abubakar Umar (rtd) on Monday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to integrate the members of the organisation to the community policing initiative of the Federal Government towards checking the spate of insecurity in the country.The Commandant General who made the plea while addressing newsmen after a 30km walk in the Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in solidarity with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and other security forces fighting insecurity in the country disclosed that the organization has over one million members across the country who operate and reside within their own communities.Umar pointed out that the walk embarked upon by members across the country was done as security sensitisation to reassure the Federal government and the general public of their presence in every ward, local government and state including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Umar said the members of the vigilante “are passionate about security of the country and have been doing their best, and even lost their lives in securing their localities despite not being paid by the government but are ready to complement other security forces to check insurgency activities in the country.”
According to him, “therefore we can serve as an important component of the Federal Government proposed community policing. Our members are in every nook and cranny of border towns and villages. Initially, our primary duty was assisting the police but today we have extended our security services and surveillance to Customs, Immigration, NDLEA and the military in general.
“We can now view the issue of peace and security with wider perspectives. VGN members can be used for the protection of critical national assets, addressing cattle rustling and the seemingly unending herders/farmers clashes as well as the plights of internally displaced persons.
“Sadly VGN has lost many gallant officers and men in the course of fighting bandits in almost all the states in Nigeria yet we are resolute in our commitment to protecting properties and lives of Nigerians.
“Our members are equally assisting the NSCDC in the protection of oil/gas and power holding equipment. Our members are also in the North East and the creeks of the South-South assisting the Army and Navy because they have the advantage of knowing the terrain better, being local residents.
“Our men are capable of assisting in addressing local security challenges such as protection of national critical assets and conflicts prevention and resolution.
“More importantly our members had at different times and any available opportunities received, and still receiving comprehensive and relevant training from relevant security agencies such as the police, NSCDC, and NDLEA while many of them are serving with the Army in the North East as civilian JTF.
“Also during the recent lockdown, as a result of COVID-19, our members volunteered themselves and worked conscientiously and assiduously with various security agencies in the protection, monitoring and distribution of palliative.
“We also partnered sanitation workers in the fumigation, traffic control on land, creeks and inland waterways. The COVID-19 pandemic availed our officers and men the opportunity to improve on our security in multidimensional ways.
“We as members of VGN are appealing to our President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to look into our Bill viz our relevance in the local security and intelligence networking in Nigeria. VGN is presently working together with the military, Nigeria Police, NDLEA, NSCDC, SSS, Customs and Immigration.
“Therefore, if given legal backing, our officers and men will surely and gallantly complement the efforts of other security agencies better. Considering the fact that our strength is more than that of all the security agencies put together, we can easily fit into the community policing project in the grounds that our personnel live and operate within their respective localities, hence they know the terrain better.
“Importantly, in order to check and minimise the possibilities of criminals parading themselves as our members, all our members are now registered with NSCDC; a database has been open for us and PSID numbers issued to each member. This doubled as their chest and service numbers which reflect in their ID cards.
“Lastly, apart from the old oil pipelines, Nigeria has over 3000km newly built gas/petroleum pipelines, Great Green Wall Nigeria, Inland Waterways and creeks, railway stations and lines and more than 30 power plants, vast farmland and many other key positions and vulnerable points which our members are capable of protection in their various areas as the first line of defence if given the opportunity.”