As the security challenges across the country intensify, the Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN) has offered itself as a potent instrument of counter-terrorism.
The Assistant Commander-General of the group in charge of Community Policing, Emmanuel Ayisire, in a press statement said with its copious objective of promoting community policing, crime control, prevention and protection of lives and property, VGN may become a veritable source of counter-terrorism.
He said, “VGN of all military and Para-military outfits in Nigeria today, is the only one that has its men emanating from or belonging to or permanently domiciled in their areas of operation, unlike all others who are “strangers” in the communities where they are posted to work.
“As a result, VGN men are familiar with the terrain, topography and demography of their areas, a factor that readily enhances internal security operations.
“Talking about Terrorism and Counter-terrorism operations, VGN men and officers if properly trained and strategically orientated, could become very potent instruments of Counter-terrorism as the most peripheral information at this stage could be critical.
Ayisiree expained that when al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden was finally located by the United States forces in a hide out at Abbottabad, Pakistan, it was a courier that he was using instead of electronic communication that provided the information.
He also said some of the incessant killings in different parts of the country, especially, in the North-east raise further the suspicion of Boko Haram insurgents perhaps, in the present circumstances, may have resorted to encouraging the lone wolf attacks.
“This is a strategy whereby individual terrorists or small groups act on their own but are inspired by a larger ideology to institute violence. “The reality of this is very scary as anyone, anywhere, and at any time, could conduct violence. It is even more so and plausibly so because of internet which allows an individual to communicate and influence many.
“Quite frankly, this is a hard nut to crack from a counter-terrorism point of view. This of course brings to the fore the imperative of Community Policing as a panacea to the myriad of security challenges facing our Nation be it insurgency, kidnapping, gruesome activities of herdsmen, ritual killings, group violence, rape and many others”.
Ayisire said community policing is the collaboration between the police and the community members that will identify security problems in their community and proffer solutions.
According to him, there can be no doubt that such collaborations between the police and community members must be hinged on mutual trust and confidence. “Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the London Metropolitan Police
Force captured this vividly in what could be considered the seed of community policing in his popular quotes “The Police are the Public and the Public, the Police”. Regrettably, the lack of mutual trust and confidence between the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Public (which has a historical origin) remains the bane of our internal security challenges”.
To him, this is the reason why the Nigerian Police force is largely not proactive in policing.
He said the social distancing of the Nigerian Police force from the community members is also reinforced by the posting of officers and men of the force from one geographical location to another; most times to communities outside their origin where they become total or partial ‘strangers’. “This policy, though was initially meant to standardise police operations and encourage impartiality among officers and men of the Force, has become counter-productive as it now hampers crimes fighting efforts since the police are isolated from the people and do not have access to pertinent information”.
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