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 yesterday.
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, has not got 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.
“We have been doing community policing for over 20 years with our personal resources. Even though a network service provider, Glo, provided us with lines for easy communication, most members cannot afford the minimum balance of N600.
“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 the 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 the bill was not assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari then.
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.
Bayelsa Assembly Committee on Environment To Curb Unlawful Sand Dredging Activities.
With various complaints and pettitions by communities impacted by the activities of illegal sand dredging and mining in the Bayelsa State, the state House of Assembly has organised a public hearing on a bill to regulate the operations of sand dredging to ensure that the environment is not adversely impacted on.
The bill tagged ” Regulation of Sand Dealing and Dredging Operations Bill 2019″ according to the House Committee on Environment is aimed at gathering inputs from experts, technocrats and the public in order to formulate a people-friendly bill that will serve the best interest of Bayelsans.
The House Committee Chairman on Environment and member representing Nembe Constituency one, Hon. Ebi Ben Ololo noted that the public hearing became necessary on the need to remediate the environment and tackle the challenges posed by sand dredging operations in the state.
” The importance of this bill cannot be overemphasized because it can save lives. You are aware a number of times so many communities and their representatives have sent pettitions to this House, specifically the Chairman House Committee on Environment as per the environmental degradation that has taken place as regards the illegal sand dealing and dredging activities in various communities all around the state”, he said.
“With those number of complains and pettitions we thought it wise to put up a bill to take care of those issues. Most important thing is that we all know that public hearing is a mechanism by which parliamentary Committees obtain information, deal with the information obtained and also exchange views with experts and the public so as to fine-tune whatever bill there is for the public hearing to come up with a top class bill that will be people- friendly and also save lives of the people in Bayelsa”, he added.
” Lots of suggestions, contributions, opinions and interactions have been made as regards this very important bill, like we have assured the representatives of the various groups that we will go back in our committee, look at those very important areas where they have suggested and also fine tune the bill. So that in no distant time we will come up with a very formidable bill that will stand the test of time. That the people will benefit from”, Ololo reassured.
He lauded participants for their insightful contributions and opinions during the public hearing, promising that the Committee would do justice to come up with a bill that would meet the expectations of Bayelsans.
In her contribution, House Chief Whip and member representing Yenagoa Constituency 2, Hon. Ebiowu Koku Obiyai lamented the deliberate connivance between communities and the sand dealers, warning that if nothing is done to regulate the activities of sand dredgers Bayelsa communities will be eroded away.
The House Whip also expressed concerns on the activities of companies carrying out dredging business near bridges and sued a delibrate efforts by all in order to save the bridges from collapse.
By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.
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