By Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – THE Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki yesterday said the state government has engaged ex-servicemen inall the local government areas of the state to help coordinate the activities of vigilante groups and collaborating with security agencies in the state to boost the capacity of their personnel as part of efforts to strengthen the security of lives and property.
He disclosed this during a courtesy visit by leaders of Esan Solidarity Association Network, led by its Chairman, Mr. Anthony Okpere, at the Government House, Benin City.
Obaseki said, “For me, security is the number one issue in governance. Security must come as number one because without security, everything has failed. What you have done as an association in Esan land is quite exemplary.
“It is exemplary because it reinforces the unity of the Esan people and the state. It is also showing your realignment to the government even when we have not started work and you have just taken the initiative. You used the same process that we have in government.”
He continued: “First, we encourage people to set up vigilante groups. Not even that we encourage them, we recognize these groups. We now need to put in some controls in what they are doing and raise money to support their activities.
“What we have done as a state is to go into alliance with the police. We’ve taken quite a lot of money to refurbish and upgrade the police training facilities in Ogida barracks. That exercise is now complete. We’ve improved the halls, training rooms, accommodations and the clinic.”
Obaseki further stated, “We have set up a security council, headed by the Nigerian Army 4 Brigade Commander to come up with a training preposition to train all security personnel, including the vigilante.
“What we have done is to now go around and screen for ex-service personnel in every local government. We now have five names from each local government. We will screen them and now come out with two names.”
“These two persons will coordinate our vigilante groups in the local government areas. They will now be responsible for preparing them for training, profiling them, documenting the kinds of arms they have, and undertaking other security activities,” the governor added.
Earlier, the leader of the group, Okpere, said they have developed ideas to support the government in fighting banditry and kidnapping in the state.