Tony John, Port Harcourt
The founder and Commander General of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), Alhaji Ali Sokoto, has urged Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to invite and discuss with the state VGN for more effective security.
Sokoto made the appeal when he visited the state to inaugurate the state’s command of the VGN, noting that members of the vigilance group were men and women from the state, who had already been trained by relevant security agencies in the country.
Sokoto, who was pleased with Governor Wike’s achievements in the state, said there was need for the government to work in synergy with his group to sustain existing government.
Sokoto also noted that VGN was firmly established in the 774 local government areas and the 36 states of the federation, including Abuja; hence, the need to synergize with the police and traditional rulers to curb the rise in kidnapping and terrorism, among others in the country.
According to him, “The Vigilante Group of Nigeria is trying to revive the concept of community policing and this cannot be achieved without the support and assistance of the traditional rulers, local, state, federal government, and the general public.
“Nigeria with a population conservatively estimated to be over 180 million people, has a police force 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”, Sokoto lamented.
Speaking earlier, the State Commander of VGN, Commandant Manbo Wilcox, disclosed that the group, which kick-started activities in the state since 2010, had over 8,500 members that were properly rooted in the 23 LGAs of the State.
He maintained that the group from inception had continued to collaborate with all security agencies in the state in the fight against vandalism, kidnapping, cultism, among others, by handing arrested suspect(s) to respective security agents according to the nature of offence committed.
Wilcox, who wondered why the case of the state VGN has been different over the years in terms of government support, compared to other states of the federation; however, called on the State Government to support the efforts of men and officers of the state command.
He said; “The VGN Bill has been passed by the National Assembly and is currently awaiting the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari, because we have contributed tremendously to the successes so far recorded in the fight against insurgency in the country.
“VGN in other states of the country have been supported by the government, companies, and other individuals in their respective states, except in Rivers; whereas I was instrumental to the establishment of VGN in all the states in South-South and the South-East geo-political zones of the country, apart from Edo State.
“We are appealing for stipends, honorarium to all our officers who are in all parts of the state, pending the assent of our bill and payment of salaries by the federal government. We equally appeal for the provision of patrol vehicles, engine boats, motorcycles, office accommodation and financial support to help us in the administration and day-to-day running of the organization,” Manbo stated.