Vigilante group decries delay in passage of community policing bill

The Lagos State Commandant of Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), Mr James Udoma, has said that community policing was the best way to curb insecurity in the country.

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Udoma said the VGN was well equipped to act as an intermediary between the public and the police on intelligence gathering.

He, however, decried the delay in the passage of the bill that would recognise the VGN as one of the security architecture in the country.

He noted that VGN’s community policing perspective was founded on unique community and grassroots recruitment, saying the concept was built around the twin principles of nativity and residency.

“So if the bill is passed, it will make VGN a part of the security architecture of the country which will improve our capacity to deliver, as well as bring in a genuine community perspective into policing in Nigeria because VGN officers are men residing within the localities where they operate from.

“As bona fide members of their communities, VGN men are adequately familiar with their beats. They understand the terrain, topography, and demography of their areas. They also know the culture and are able to speak the languages of their communities unlike men of other security agencies who are partially strangers in communities they are posted to serve.”

The Commandant noted that legalising the VGN through legislation does not imply that the Nigerian Police Force would no longer be in authority neither would their primary duty of preserving law and order be subordinated.

“VGN does not have cells neither can we keep suspects beyond 24 hours. A VGN officer must within 24 hours work and document its evidence against any suspect and hand over such suspect to the police” he said.

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Udoma, however, noted that the biggest challenge in the partnership between the police and community members was a lack of mutual trust and confidence.

“Regrettably, the lack of mutual trust and confidence between the police and the public remains the scourge of our security challenges. The police are largely estranged from the people and as a result, the police are bereft of the pertinent information needed to function proactively. This is the void the VGN will fill by serving as the ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ for the police and other law enforcement agencies in their communities and neighbourhood,” he said.

He further said that as soon as the VGN is formally incorporated into the nation’s security system, many youths in the various communities would be engaged.

“This implies that the energy of such youths will be positively redirected from idleness and criminality to productive endeavours like that of securing the lives and properties of their respective communities. Also, community policing would afford the community members the opportunity to become active participants in the process of solving community security challenges.”

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