The government has taken a firm decision to disband all political vigilante groups in the country, as they pose a major threat to peace, security and the country’s democracy,.
The Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, has said in the coming weeks, the police would come up with specific strategies to crack down on such groups.
Speaking at the first sitting of the Emile Short Commission on Ayawaso incident, the minister said any group outside the country’s security services, licensed private security and neighborhood watchdog groups could not perform the role of security services in any form.
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“If the police are invited to a gathering and they go there and see any other security institution that purports to act there and it is not the police, that security institution will be dealt with,” he noted.
While many hold the view that successive governments had paid lip service to disbanding the groups known for their violent and intimidating activities, the minister said the position of the government has been clear and consistent, that vigilantism was illegal and must be stopped.
He stressed that this time around, the government is not just paying lip service.
He also took issue with what he described as the political coloring of crime, stating that crime was crime, irrespective of the perpetrator.
“When we introduce that concept of political vigilantism, we, by implication, make it nobler than it should sound. An assault is an assault and, as far as I’m concerned, there is no political party that has in its manifesto such organisations as part of its party structure.
They are illegal groups and the fact that they come under any political group is unacceptable,” he said.
Testifying at the commission’s first sitting, the Minister of the Interior said he was not aware that members of the vigilante groups had military training but was quick to add that some retired personnel of some of the security services could be part of those groups.
“One of the reasons we are not joking with it is that Boko Haram started as a vigilante group and we would not want our democracy to be jeopardised,” he said.
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