Security guard discovered wearing police badge in Lagos
•They bribe police —Vigilantes’ commander
SUBAIR MOHAMMED went in search of a new security group with controversial identity in Lagos.
AS residents of Lagos State grapple with the reality of controversial armed security groups springing up in the state, fresh controversy is being stoked over alleged illegal use of police identity by members of a vigilance group under the guise of community policing.
The discovery has brought into focus the crisis trailing the collaboration between communities in the state and the security community in combating crime and insecurity.
The alleged member of the VGN sighted by a WAI brigade commander, Adetayo Kehinde, in Makoko has now become a subject of interest for the police which reportedly encouraged the WAI brigade to lure him into their net. The vest, seen on him, according to Kehinde, bore the inscription ‘Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Community Policing’.
Just like the armed Northern security group operating under the aegis of Gallant Vigilante, it was Kehinde’s WAI Brigade that also discovered the new group with the controversial police identification. And just like he did in the past, Kehinde approached the police about his new discovery in the same Makoko community where the Gallant Vigilante member in vest also claimed to be operating from.
Kehinde, who mans WAI Brigade command in Yaba Local Council Development Area, said to Saturday Tribune: “We have been able to track down another man operating as a security guard without any affiliation with the VGN and police. On the vest was written ‘Vigilante Group of Nigeria’ and on the other side of the vest was written ‘Community Policing’ with the badge of the Nigeria Police imprinted on it. He is the only person wearing such uniform with a police badge and the implication of this is that the Lagos State police command is in the know of his actions; that he is collaborating with the police on security issues, whereas he is not a member of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria in Yaba LCDA.
“I reported my findings at the Adekunle Police Station and I was told to lure him to the station where the DPO would interrogate him on how he got the vest and his alleged collaboration with the police. The guy resides in Makoko but he joined the Vigilante Group of Nigeria in Lekki, Ajah. He is a member of Vigilante Group of Nigeria but not under the Yaba LCDA command. He wore similar security vest like the Vigilante Group of Nigeria but the only difference is the community policing written in front of the vest with a badge of the Nigeria Police boldly displayed on it. He is trying to talk me into joining us. He wanted to join my group but I am scared which is why I am involving the police to unravel where he belongs.”
Adekunle station DPO should answer for it –Agbamu
Popular security expert, Patrick Agbamu, told Saturday Tribune that great care must be taken in handling the brewing security crisis in the state.
He said: “The scenario you have just painted is why as a security expert, I am against proliferation of security organisations in Lagos State. It will definitely lead to abuse of power. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clear on how and what government agencies should provide security for lives and property in the country. By the act of the National Assembly, some security organisations were established. I think these security agencies, allowed by the constitution and the act of the National Assembly, should be encouraged to perform effectively.
“We should not allow security organisations that cannot be controlled to take over the security of the country. However, to regulate activities of vigilante groups will be very difficult in Nigeria. In other parts of the world, you can hardly find them in existence. If any security outfit is to provide any form of assistance to security agencies, personnel of such outfit are not expected to wear any uniform. They are supposed to be discreet in nature and must have a controlled system of communicating to the security agencies. But here in Nigeria, every security firm wants to wear uniform. Everybody wants to be active and that is the cause of the problem we are having and it is dangerous for our society and psyche. If we have so many uniformed personnel on the street, it doesn’t portray a sane society.”
When asked if there are ways the Nigeria Police could effectively coordinate and control the activities of vigilante groups, he said: “In the first instance, I don’t think that the police will need any vigilante group if they are efficient enough. Vigilante groups can assist the police in the area of providing them with information to their operations. Vigilante groups would not have been what they are today if the police have performing optimally and effectively. But since they have been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, the police should set up a department that would constantly regulate the activities of these so-called vigilante groups. This department should trickle down to state commands, area commands, police posts, zonal commands and police headquarters so that they would be able to monitor effectively the activities of the vigilance groups.
“The DPO of the area where the Gallant Vigilante was sighted should be able to provide information about the person in question but this is not the case because they are not registered. The implication of this is that anybody can get a vest of a security outfit, commit a crime with it and go scot-free. Misconception will arise and it will cast aspersions on the image of the police because they believe that the vigilante groups are working with the police. Since the vigilante groups are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, they should be registered with the police so that they would be able to monitor their activities.”
Factional members bribe police –Vigilance group commander
Commander of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, VGN, Yaba LCDA, Omisore Israel, said although his group has vests and berets that have police logo imprinted on them, he could not identify the faction to which the man in question belongs. According to him, Vigilante Group of Nigeria has two factions across the country. He said: “We have vests, face masks and berets that have Nigeria Police logo imprinted on them. But I can only identify the man that was sighted in Vigilante vest if I can get his name and location. In Vigilante Group of Nigeria, there are two factions. We belong to Jawun faction and the other faction is that of the late Alhaji Alli Sokoto which has James Idoma as its Lagos State commander.
“Unlike my group, the other faction engages in shadowy operation across police stations across Lagos State because their boss is able to buy some police officers to his side. They don’t have offices. Their members end up joining our group when they discover that we are the legitimate group. There is no group called Gallant Vigilante Group and the people seen parading as members of Vigilante Group of Nigeria belong to another faction of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria.”
Govt should wake up –Gani Adams’ aide
Also reacting, Kehinde Aderemi, media aide to the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams, said: “Aare has been saying repeatedly, cautioning the government on the threat to internal security, especially by okada riders who have invaded Lagos State. The spate of insecurity is what led to the formation of Amotekun but it is unfortunate that Lagos State is not ready for it. On vigilante groups, I think there isn’t any group that hasn’t different factions. For instance, the man in the picture of Gallant Vigilante that recently went viral is a Northerner whose identity and mode of operation are yet to be uncovered. I think we have to continue to appeal to the government to tighten security because if the issue is not urgently addressed, it could get worse. Makoko, as we are all aware, is a vulnerable community, so anything that could bring about instability or threaten its internal peace should be avoided.”
No collaboration between police, vigilante groups –DPO
Speaking to the issues of proliferation and collaboration between the Lagos State police command and vigilante groups in the state, spokesperson for the command, Muyiwa Adejobi, said he was waiting on the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the area for the details.
A call was put across to the DPO of Adekunle Police Station, Akinlade Rafiu, who denied the existence of such happenings. He said: “It is not that I am not aware but there is nothing like that. Let anyone that has something on it come to meet me. I am at the office.”
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