Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Security of life and property is germane to the socio-economic development of any society. Without proper security network in place, particularly, at the community or grassroots level, larger society is exposed to danger.
To complement the efforts of the Ogun State Government in terms of providing adequate security at macro level, a security outfit, Ogun State Community Social Orientation and Safety Corps, otherwise known as So Safe Corp, was flagged off. Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Taiwo Adeoluwa, recalled that the administration faced serious security challenges when it assumed office in 2011.
He said the state was at the mercy of armed robbers and cultists. He added that armed robbers forced banks in Ijebu-Ode to close their doors to the public, forcing many residents to go to neighbouring Ondo, Oyo and Osun states to carry out bank transactions: “With combination of initiatives, government was able to surmount the security challenges.
“Apart from establishing Rapid Response Squad And OP-Mesa, purchasing of armoured personnel carriers for the police as well as other vehicles and communication equipment, via Security Trust Fund, the Vigilance Service Organisation (VSO) was also established. Through the VSO, crimes at the community level abated, while the overall security situation improved greatly.
“For the VSO to improve on its local and community policing, its name metamorphosed to So Safe Corps. The change passed through the House of Assembly and eventually got the imprimatur of the governor since December 27, 2017.”
The SSG charged the new outfit, led Soji Ganzallo, to continue to justify the confidence government and people have in them. He told them to be professional, cautious, polite and diligent while discharging their duties.
Responding, Ganzallo, who was also the commander of the VSO, recounted how the outfit in combination with the police, foiled several crimes, especially armed robbery and kidnapping. He disclosed that within three months of establishment of VSO in 2012, the outfit mopped up 380 arms and ammunition from suspected criminals.
He declared the readiness of the Society Safe Corps to take up additional responsibilities and make Ogun communities safer: “We will always be there to respond to any distress call from members of any community in the state. We will strive to maintain level of excellence; we will not disappoint.”
For Bashiru Akintunde, the So Safe Corps will ensure community policing and reduce criminal activities in the neighbourhood. He said though police are really working to combat crimes, elitist in nature, the corps with its knowledge of local environment, will reduce crimes drastically in various communities in the state.
Samuel Ige, a furniture maker, expressed delight that a replica of the Neighbourhood Watch in Lagos, has finally berthed in Ogun. He recalled how men of the VSO in 2015, helped him to arrest a culprit and recover equipment stolen from his workshop. He opined that men and officers of the corps must not engage in activities capable of tarnishing the image and put the rationale behind its establish to question.
For Mrs. Ajibike Adeniyi, the corps must be careful not to dabble into domestic or land issues, just as she warned it not to engage in extortion of members of the public. She urged government to ensure that the security outfit is well equipped to carry out its community policing effectively.
A former member of the VSO, Abiodun Ayeni, said that the inauguration of the corps was long overdue. While recalling various crimes busting activities he and his colleagues engaged in, Abiodun, who is now a Political Science undergraduate, expressed confidence that So Safe Corps will do better now that it has been officially gazetted as state security outfit.