Vigilante Group unites with Security Agencies to fight crime in Taraba
Vigilante group as one of the anti-crime body is playing major roles in fight against crime in Nigeria especially now that banditry, kidnapping and arm robbery has taken front seats in the society. The group is made up of mostly self-volunteers that operate on the mandate of the community they live in, their involvement in crime control has help other Security Agencies tremendously in curbing activities of criminals across the country.
In this interview with Mohammed Salihu Tikka and Christiana Babayo, the sector Commandant of the organization in Jalingo and Operational Commander, Taraba State northern zone, Mr Munir Bello Abubakar shares his experience, challenges on their operations in Jalingo.
How can you access generally, your performance in the state?
We thank God that our job is not a hidden one. Both the public and the formal Security Agencies including Journalists know that we are putting in our best to see that our communities are leaving peacefully because of our commitment. There is a tremendous progress in the way we carry out our job, I can affirm to you that today, 75% of the convicted persons in this state were caught or arrested by our men. Our duty is to make arrest and hand over to the appropriate Security Agency. We assist the conventional securities that is why you see that things are now going as expected.
In terms of progress, there are challenges especially here in Jalingo. If you could remember, 2 or 3 months back, kidnappers were terrorizing and giving sleepless night to the people and Security Agencies in Jalingo. But you will agree with me that with the help of God and the efforts put by our men, Jalingo is relatively peaceful. Last time we exchanged fire with the kidnappers in four different places here in Jalingo, sometimes we receive calls from places that are far from us but we try by all means to reach there and with the help of God, we do come to our base safely. It was only on one occasion while exchanging fire with the kidnappers that two of our men got injured which were being treated and are back to work now.
How is your organization relating with other security outfits in the state?
Our relationship with other Security Agencies especially, police is cordial. There is a good relationship among the Security Agencies in the state. For instance, Police do invite us always in any issue concerning us. They also, constantly advise us on some security issues. On our side, we do call on them sometimes before taking any action. You know police work is to take care of the internal security of the country and so ours is just to assist them. To be sincere with you we have good understanding with the DPO and other senior officers, especially here in Jalingo where I operate.
How about cooperation from the community, are you getting motivation from them?
Yes, we are getting support from only few individuals in some communities. For other communities, it is challenges upon challenges. You know that this work is a voluntary job, no one is paying us. We all depend on the community where we served for assistance. We need to buy uniforms, shoes, torch lights and other things for the smooth running of the job but how can we get all these without money? If everyone in the community can contribute little money for us, no matter how small, it will be useful to us. But if they allow only few among them to be contributing always, it will not solve the problem because, they may probably stop along the way. I want to appreciate the commitment of places like Magami, Nukai, Shavon, Mayo Dasa and Takanaban. Those areas are doing well in terms of assistance.
For that I want to use this medium to appeal to communities to come to the assistance of the Vigilante group, because this groups only depends on the contribution and the support of the communities. Perhaps if there is more help coming from them, the work will be more effective than it is.
Has your organization been getting assistance from the government of the state?
The assistance coming from the government is far less than what is expected. The government supposed to put more efforts in assisting us. There is no way a government can give you development if there is no peace. Our contribution to security matters in Jalingo helped tremendously in bringing good governance to people in the state. Ours is just to complement the police’s efforts by giving our best as we are doing now. I could remember what His Excellency Governor Darius do say anywhere he goes.” Give me peace I will give you development”. We know that if there is no peace, development will not come. So we are appealing to the State Government to please come to our aid by doing what is expected of it. if you look outside there, you will see some Hilux Van which were given to us by the State Government. They are all broken down now because of lack of money to maintain them. The only one that is left with us was the one given to us for patrol during the high rate of kidnapping in Jalingo. When they saw that the kidnapping rates was subdued, they withdrew the Van from us. Fighting insecurity is a continues process. It is not something that one can finish in a short time. We are pleading to the State Government to once again, come to our aid so that we can perform the work efficiently.
In the course of your assignment, are there any challenges you are facing from the communities?
There are challenges, I said earlier. Whenever different people come together under one umbrella, there must be individual interests and whenever individual interests come to play, there must be a problem. In the communities, we have some overzealous individuals who try to put the control of the organization under them, forgetting that vigilante group of today is not like the one before. Now the group has registered with the Cooperate Affairs Commission (C.A.C). We have our constitution and also there is a Law by the Taraba State House of Assembly that is backing our operation in the state since 2002.