Vigilante Group of Nigeria begins operation in Rivers

Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt

The founder and Commander General of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Alhaji Ali Sokoto, has said the country is grossly under-policed.

Sokoto lamented that Nigeria with a population of between 180 million and 200 million people had less than 300,000 policemen.

Speaking during the inauguration of the Rivers State Command of the national vigilance group in Port Harcourt on Saturday, Sokoto described as abysmal and pitiable “the ratio of a poorly motivated policeman to 500 discontented Nigerians.”

He explained that the VGN was trying to revive the concept of community policing, noting, however, it could not be achieved without the support of traditional rulers, members of the public, federal, state and local government.

Sokoto added that the vigilance groups established across the country would assist the police and other relevant security agencies to fight crime in the country.

He said, “Nigeria with a population conservatively estimated to be over 180-200 million people has a police force composed of fewer than 300,000 men. The abysmal ratio of one poorly motivated police officer to over 500 discontented Nigerians is pitiable and a far cry from the average.

“That our country is grossly under-policed is just a facet of the multi-dimensional structure of the constraints that are affecting efficient policing in Nigeria.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the Rivers State Commander of VGN, Mr. Manbo Wilcox, said the VGN Bill had been passed by the National Assembly, maintaining that the document was awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent.

Wilcox recalled that the VGN began in Rivers in 2010 and added that the group had recruited over 8,500 operatives from the 23 local government areas of the state.

He said, “Our officers have all undergone a series of training by the police, DSS and Army at different times and places here in Rivers State, Abuja and other parts of the country.

“The aim of VGN is to complement the efforts of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies and to reduce crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery, kidnapping, etc. and to monitor the activities of vandals that lead to oil spillage in the various communities of the state.”

Wilcox observed that VGN in other states were being assisted by government, companies and individuals, lamenting that the vigilance group in Rivers State had yet to enjoy such privileges.

“We are appealing for stipends, honoraria for all our officers, who are working in all parts of the state, pending the assent to our bill and payment of salaries by the Federal Government.

“We also appeal for patrol vehicles, engine boats, motorcycles, office accommodation and financial support to help us in the administration and day-to-day running of the organisation,” he added.

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