Mr James Udomma, the Lagos State Commandant, Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), on Thursday urged the Federal Government to establish internet regulatory structures that would help to curb crises emanating from the platform.
Udomma, speaking with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos, blamed the recent xenophobic reprisal attacks by Nigerian youths on South African owned businesses in Nigeria on mismanaged information derived from the internet.
“The mismanagement of information from the social media is what led to the destruction of properties of South African owned businesses here in Nigeria.
“It is important that the Federal Government puts up checks and balances that will regulate the internet, especially the social media, because of its adverse effect on the society.
“Misinformed activities happening outside the country are usually disemminated in the country through the social media. That escalated reactions among Nigerian youths and led some of them to vandalise South African owned organisations,” he said.
He said that VGN members and police men were posted across the nation to calm angry youths and ensured that lives and property were protected across states.
“We did our best as a security volunteering organisation to see that the situation did not get out of hand.
“However, as a community based security, we have limited outreach,” he said.
Udomma said VGN had sent a bill to the National Assembly (NASS) that when passed into law would make the group a part of the security architecture of the country.
He said this was based on the account of the group’s past efforts in curbing crimes in the nation.
The commandant also said that VGN is an NGO who has its presence across all the local government areas of Lagos State, and saddled with community security.
According to him, the VGN has been able to synchronise efforts with the police and other security agencies in the country through the exchange of information toward curbing crime in the society.
“Information is vital in curbing crimes. This is a major aspect we play by providing information to the police and other security agencies since we are closer to the grassroots.
“The Nigerian Police Force as well as the Nigerian Army have testified at different times to our contributions in helping to quell crises and apprehending suspecting criminals.
“Therefore, we need the Federal Government to sign the bill currently before the NASS into law to enable us function fully as a national security outfit.
“We also appeal to state governments to assist us with the necessary logistics for us to be more proactive in all the 36 states of the country,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Segun Musa, a security expert said that the VGN was significant because of the security role it had been playing at grassroots and based on its coordinated interactions between the public and other security agencies.
Musa said that the VGN was usually the first responder in an emergency before other security agencies arrive the scene.
“Security challenges brew from the community, and if we can manage it from that community, it will not escalate.
“That is why the bill is explicit on the role of VGN that it will further help to tackle the issues of domestic crises, protection of the pipelines, creeks, marine security, religious centres among other areas.
“This will further ensure that security is being managed from the scratch because when crises become full blown, they are more difficult to manage,” he said.
Musa said that the major challenge facing the VGN is that it was self-reliant and had been operating solely based on financial and other forms of assistance from individuals and without help from the government or any organisation.
“If we can get support from the local, state and Federal Governments, it will be easier for us to come out fully and put a deterrent in place against crimes.
“The essence of the VGN cannot be over emphasised because its members are the bridge builder between the community and other security apparatus,” he said.
Edited by Chioma Ugboma/Peter Dada