The Department of State Security Services, DSS has taken local vigilantes, referred to as ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ through some training on how curb activities of Boko Haram members in Borno state and entire North East.
Borno state Governor, Kashim Shettima, while inaugurating members of ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ during weekend donated 27 patrol vehicles to them, urging them to complement efforts of Nigerian troops in protecting lives and properties of people in the state especially in Jere and Maiduguri Metropolitan Councils (MMC).
The local vigilantes were instructed not to patrol the 27 designated wards of the metropolis and council area but explained the way they should go about their assignment.
Speaking at the inauguration ground, which held at Ramat Square, Maiduguri, Shettima said, the establishment of Neighbourhood Watch has raised better understanding and cooperation between the Nigerian Army and State Government to protect people’s lives and properties.
According to him, “Densely populated wards of Maisandari, Lamusila and Zinnari, have been allocated 200 each of neighborhood watch vanguards to protect lives and properties.
“The remaining 24 wards are each to be patrolled by 100 vigilantes. They are also allowed to convey pregnant women and the sick to hospitals, during the curfews hours of 10.30pm to 6am daily.”
He added that members of the watch group are also to arrest suspected culprits and hand them over to nearest police station.
Meanwhile, the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Kaka Shehu Lawan who corroborated Shettima said the establishment of Neighbourhood Watch was in fulfilment of constitutional obligations as a government contained in section 14 (2) (a) of the 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He explained that the constitution stated that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
Lawan added that the contributions of Civilian JTF on counter-terrorism operations are well-known, widely acclaimed and commended.
He further noted that Civilian JTF was a voluntary body that emerged spontaneously as a self-defense mechanism.
He stressed that at the initial stage, it did not have any law backing it or any organized command structure, adding that it is to be
expected in view of its nature and circumstance that led to its emergence in Borno state.
“The civilian JTF is a useful partner in the fight against terrorism and other crimes. Government deemed it necessary to give members of JTF a legal backing, with the passage of Borno State Vigilante and Youth Empowerment Agency Law,” he said.
He continued, “Law encompasses the Civilian JTF, Vigilante Groups and Youth Vanguards, who have volunteered to work for the promotion and maintenance of peace, and security in their neighbourhoods.
“Section 25 of the said law gives the Governor power to issue directives to the Agency for compliance and also to constitute a
committee for the purpose of training Youth Vanguards.
“Neighbourhood Watch” was to consolidate on the gains already achieved in restoration and sustenance of peace, law and order in communities.