The Vigilance Group of Nigeria (VGN) has urged the leadership of the National Assembly to revisit the bill that seeks to give legal backing to the activities of the group in tackling insecurity in the country.
The group made the appeal when it paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Idris Wase (APC-Plateau) at the National Assembly complex Tuesday.
The spokesman of the group, Cpt Umar Bakori (rtd), told the deputy speaker that VGN had been in existence for the past 20 years, with its operations covering all the 774 local governments in the country.
Although Bakori said that the group had about two million members, he, however, added that only 17,000 were very active and had been trained by security agencies, particularly the police and the army.
He said that VGN had been providing grassroots support for the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other security agencies.
Bakori said that the group had initiated a bill to give necessary legal backing to its activities, stressing that although it was passed by Eighth National Assembly, it had, however, not yet get presidential assent.
“When you talk about community policing or state police, there is no organisation that is better positioned to carry out that responsibility than VGN.
“So we came up with a bill so that this organisation will be recognised by law, with very little funding. Since we are volunteers, we have been doing our work even without being paid.
“If the government gives us more support, it will go a long way in addressing the spate of insecurity in the country,” he said.
Bakori said that the vigilantes, who were permanently stationed in each community, understood the language, customs and tradition of the people of the community, unlike policemen and other security personnel who could be transferred to anywhere in the country.
Responding, the deputy speaker commended members of the group for their selfless service over the years in supporting the already overstretched police force.
He urged them to continue to follow legitimate means of getting legal backing for the activities of the organisation.
Wase said that members of VGN were already part of the Civilian Joint Task Force in the North-east zone of the country.
The deputy speaker promised to contact the Clerk of the National Assembly to find out why President Muhammadu Buhari then did not assent to the bill.
He promised to do everything possible to ensure presidential assent to the bill to serve as a legal framework for the operations of the organisation. (NAN)