From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Stakeholders in Benue communities have resolved to engage services of vigilante to assist the conventional security to better secure the communities.
This formed part of the resolutions reached at the end of an expanded stakeholders’ meeting at the Government House in Makurdi, yesterday.
Reading the resolutions to newsmen at the end of the meeting, Governor Samuel Ortom, who is chairman of the meeting, explained that the decision became necessary as a result of the increasing spate of attacks on the state in the last few weeks.
“The meeting resolved that the renewed attacks by armed herdsmen have overstretched the security agencies and posed a lot of challenges. When it is happening in multiple places, it becomes a challenge.
“Therefore, the Benue State government should fully enforce the law to provide for the establishment of community volunteer guards (vigilante) and for the purposes connected therewith which was enacted in 2000.
“Benue State believes in the rule of law and due process. So, we looked at other ways of trying to help the security agencies posted to Benue and we adjusted the law establishing volunteer guards known as vigilante.
“The stakeholders’ meeting has adopted the law to come in full force. Volunteer guards would be constituted at the local government levels with council chairman as chairman with the division police officer and others as members and social welfare person as secretary.
He said while the state government has been mandated to support the vigilante with logistics as provided in the law, recruitment should be carried out in the 23 local government areas of the state.
The governor said the meeting, which was attended by stakeholders across political and religious lines, reinforced the commitment of Benue people to the enforcement of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.
“The meeting emphasised the need for stakeholders to join hands in tackling insecurity in Benue State devoid of political, religious and ethnic sentiments.
The governor explained further that all recruitments would be done at the community level, stressing that those to be recruited should be between 18 and 50 years of age.
“They must be people who have lived in that community for a minimum of six months and they must be people of impeccable character and not ex-convicts.
“They (recruits) must have weapons that are recognised or linsensed by the law so that they can rise and defend the people in times of external aggression. The recruitment would be done immediately at the local government level,” Ortom said.