VIGILANTE Group of Nigeria is a registered organization that specializes in community policing. Their Deputy State Commander, Emmanuel Ayisire and Solomon Omojie Mgbejume (Unit Head CCRU), paid a courtesy visit to ENCOMIUM Weekly.
In this interview, they enlightened the public on the operations of Vigilante Group of Nigeria, their challenges, how they can combat security challenges in the state and more.
Can we meet you, sir?
Deputy Emmanuel Ayisire is my name. I am the Deputy State Commander, Administration, Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Lagos State Command.
Tell us about your group because a lot of people have some misconception about the group.
Vigilante Group of Nigeria is a national organization, a non-governmental organization in the area of security. We are present in the 36 states of the federation. Our headquarters is in Kaduna and Ali Sokoto is our Commander-General. We have a command office in Abuja. The objective of Vigilante Group is to promote community policing in Nigeria. We are working well with the police in all the states. We don’t prosecute criminals. We arrest suspects and take them to the police. Presently, we are enjoying good working relationship with the police and military.
What edge does your group have over other security outfits?
We have the grassroots connections. We are very much professional. We live and work in the community we provide security for. For instance, a policeman can be transferred to any state of the federation. We don’t do that in our group. We are the only one that can solve security problems in Nigeria. We have that peculiar advantage. To secure a place or community, you have to understand the topography, language, demography and environment. That gives us an edge over others. Sometime back, the army had to work with our group in Borno State. We even lost our commander to the insurgency. We need encouragement by the government, we are doing a voluntary work. We also have an edge in the area of getting vital information.
How do you operate?
Vigilante Group is a national organization. We have our state command and in every state we have our units. We are a voluntary organization. We recruit in every community. We have state commander in each state. After recruitment, we test them to determine if they are fit for the organization. They will pass through some training as well before they can be deployed to their communities. We don’t take our members out of their communities. We have some special squad, anti-robbery, vigilante special squad.
People have the conception that vigilante are groups of illiterate, fetish men who are interested in security matters?
You are correct but Vigilante Group of Nigeria is not just a group of unenlightened, uneducated people, no. I wouldn’t say per se that the group is meant for the educated, no. Our constitution allows anybody from 18, once you have a first school leaving certificate, you are able to communicate, you must be able to understand some simple mathematics, that is all.
Vigilante Group of Nigeria are not necessarily fetish people but we have men with God’s wisdom in whatever they do, that is the reality of life. It is not a central policy. We have some special squad like I told you our anti-robbery squad can disarm armed robbers easily with their God given wisdom. So, I can say, we have some men like that. If we are recruiting, we look out for men like that. They may not have Masters degree, but they are very efficient. At times, policemen call for our assistance in arresting armed robbers and we help.
Can you highlight some of your challenges?
We have a lot of them. If we get encouragement from government and corporate organizations, some of these problems will be solved. We need a lot of things. We need vehicles, ammunitions, security equipment. If government should key in, we will be able to use some ammunition. We don’t use them now except few members in our special squad. They got their license from government.
We are doing this on part time. We also pursue our means of livelihood. If we receive an emergency call and it falls within a wrong time, we might not be able to make it. But if we are working for the government, you know it is a case of undivided attention. We will also need more training. Though, we organize some but it is not enough.
In what way can the vigilante group help solve the problem of security in Nigeria?
We have this strategy. We believe in community policing. We want the government to encourage us realize that. If they do, our community police will not wear uniform, with that, we will be able to operate like undercover. We will also use people within the community we are securing. We will get a lot of useful information that will ease security problem.
How do you think the vigilante group can institute community policing and it will not affect Nigeria Police?
In some countries, we have federal police and state police. Such countries have massive population compared to Nigeria. I believe we can work it out easily. I believe Vigilante Group of Nigeria has provided the necessary platform for community policing. Everything can be worked out, it is a matter of strategy, we can do it.
How do you source funds to cater for your members?
That is our greatest problem. Our Commander was killed in Borno State, what do you think will happen to his family, will they be compensated? Only God knows. What we are doing now is the act of patriotism. We have thousands of patriotic young men who have decided to put their lives on the line for the sake of the nation, that is why we are saying, the country has a lot of money, spend some on the group too. Our men are in Yobe, Borno, Sokoto States helping the military. These men know the terrain. Our men told the government that they want to go to the forest, they can do it, we just need government assistance to fine-tune it.