INSECURITY: How relevant is VGN in tackling security challenges in Nigeria?


 On the 27th of April,  2004, the Vigilante Group  of Nigeria [VGN] was established by  the late  former President Musa . Yar'adua, to complement efforts of the Nigeria Police. 
BODE DUROJAIYE,  takes a look at the relevance of VGN in tackling security challenges confronting the country. 

 The former President  at the inauguration said the establishment of the VGN was in line with the recommendations of the United Nations, UN on community, public security and safetty. 

He added that  the police is trying its best in a very harsh and hostile environment’ yet effective security of the country needs the
collaboration of groups like the VGN.

He said many Nigerians are ignorant of basic security issues and that the VGN with the support of the federal and state governments will povide adequate security training for decent people in the country in the bid to ensure community participation in the entire business of security in the country.

 Findings revealed that the idea of the VGN was sold to the Federal Government in 1999 during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

  Sources hinted that though the VGN did not take firm roots until when late  President Yar Adua expressed keen interest in supporting and giving the organisation full legal and legislative backing, as many states in the North have adopted the VGN as part of the operating security mechanism in their domains.

He was said to have seen security not as a gift to be given out to the people, but rather as the property of the people themselves and that they should be involved in the entire process of security, pointing out that this is what gave birth to the idea of the VGN which is expected to work with the police and the Directorate of State Security [DSS].

 He said the VGN borrowed the idea from the ancient culture of many ancestral communities in Nigeria when hunters and villagers from such settings were directly involved in public security.

Unfortunately, since the death of the former president, succeeding  administrations seemed to have put the concept and implementation of the VGN in the dustbin of history.

What is more, there has been drastic decline in public confidence and citizens’ withdrawal of their voluntary support and cooperation to the police.

The reason for this is due to lack of public satisfaction, trust andvinstilled confidence.

Consequently, crime and criminal activities continue unabated.

Many notable Nigerians have expressed dismay at the inability of the Police to fight crime to standstill, a situation which has earned the country bad image in the comity of nations.

However, the VGN in Oyo State with about 11,000 officers and men has instilled confidence in the people, through demonstrable commitment at all times to deliver the best possible services.

Their activities are felt across the State, especially in Oke-ogun areas, as residents are now relieved from the onslaught of daredevil
armed robbers and can sleep with their eyes closed.

Several motorists plying the area had fallen to the robbers’ bullets, while others sustained various degrees of injuries, when plying the
roads in the area.

 The VGN has equally begun clamp down on blacksmith operators who secretly manufacture locally-made guns for criminally-minded people, to unleash terror in the areas.
Hunting, farming and blacksmithing are major occupations of the people.

Security sources hinted that most of these locally-made guns, after the manufacture were being sold to foreigners from neigbouring country, the Benin Republic.
Iwere-Ile, Idiko-Ago, Agbororo,  Onikeun and Wasimi all in Oke-Ogun areas, are border communities  close to Benin Republic.

Investigations to these border communities revealed their porosity and undulating terrains.  There are several illegal routes as alternatives for smugglers and other criminals to enter into and out of the country.

These concerted efforts by the VGN have brought respite to the residents, community leaders and traditional rulers who expressed
satisfaction and were full of praises for prompt service delivery.

The commendation was reinforced recently when the State chapter of the VGN held its zonal meeting in Oyo town.

The colourful meeting was attended by men of the Divisional police, DSS, Defence Corps, Operation Burst and the Immigration Service.

Others were Hausa/Fulani community, representative of the community’s
monarch and various associations,

In his message, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, who is one of the National patrons of the VGN lamented over increasingl rate of criminal propensity in the country.

He stressed urgent need for effective community policing which does not replace any regular styles and methods of normal police duties, but harness the principal
policing which remain essential and are entirely compatible and complementary.

  Oba Adeyemi pointed out that, "the people are overwhelmed with the activities of VGN because they ;have been contributing towards the creation or reinforcement of trust in communities, strengthening the security of persons and property and the feeling of security of persons, as well as stave off frequent discords which exist between
the police and members of the public, due to loss of confidence.”

‘’Your efficiency, thoroughness, courtesy, tact, tamper, and tolerance, as well as impartiality deserves commendation. The service
you are rendering is a voluntary one.  You are not equipped with operational vehicles, let alone arms and ammunition. You don’t even
receive any salary. Yet, your performance is delightful and pleasant to the people.  We held general elections and you proved yourselves,
by not compromising patriotism and diligence for gratification.  

 In hiis address, State Commandant of the VGN, Mr. Sunday Olajide, noted that despite the large number of his officers and men
which is about 30,000, services being rendered are voluntary, as they
neither receive salaries nor remunerations presently.

‘’ Our commitment to national pa case in poineace and security remains unparalleled. For instance  the rescue of wife of the former Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly by VGN men from the den of kidnappers was a  case in point", Olajide said.

The VGN Commandant who explained challenges encountered by the organization in combating crime and how criminal activities had been drastically reduced in Oyo, Ogbomoso and Oke-ogun area , lauded the
unalloyed support and  cooperation of other security agencies in the arduous task.

‘’We [VGN]   were also able to succeed in checkmating crimes because most of our men are recruited from the core villages, who know the terrains and communities topographies. So, we mix -up with the
villagers in order to extract  useful information  that  will lead to foiling any  attempted  nefarious  plans.’’

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