Stakeholders On Excesses Of Vigilante Neighbourhood Watch
THE over-bearing attitude of some neighbourhood watch officials, otherwise known as vigilante in local parlance in recent time, has underscored the need for community policing being advocated across the country.
Advocates of community policing are of the opinion that Nigeria should have community and state police to check the challenges of insecurity bedeviling the nation.
It was part of the recommendation made at last year’s National Conference, and the bill has also passed the first reading at the House of Representatives, with the claim that it is the only antidote to insecurity in the country.
However, some unscrupulous elements have given bad name to the vigilante system, as they have become tools in the hands of influential community leaders, to threaten and punish their adversaries.
Reports of excesses of some vigilante groups have been recorded across the country. Last August, a local vigilante group in Adamawa State shot a policeman dead for refusing to stop at a checkpoint, while riding a motorcycle. The inspector, who was not wearing his uniform at the time of the incident, failed to stop when asked by members of the group to do so.
In July 2013, officials of the Vigilante Service of Ogun State killed two persons they allegedly mistook for armed robbers in Abeokuta, the state capital. A survivor of the incident claimed the vigilante service men, which mistook them for armed robbers, stormed their residence at midnight and opened fire on them.
Last year, members of vigilante group in Ikorodu area of Lagos State, apprehended one Habeeb Babalawo, whom they accused of being an armed robber. It was learnt that the group unlawfully killed the suspect, instead of handing him over to the police for further investigations.
In October, three persons, presumably innocent were gunned down by members of the Vigilante Service of Ogun State in Papalanto area of the state. They were allegedly sent by one of their superior officers to intimidate the victims for demanding for their entitlement after working for him as labourers.
It is the same awful story of vigilante excesses that are recorded in various parts of the country.
A security expert, John Odey, who rue the tragic development, disclosed that government should monitor the use of arms to protect lives.
He called on government to either scrap the neighbourhood security groups or look for a way to ensure they don’t constitute nuisance to the society.