A bill for a law to establish community volunteer guards has passed its second reading at the Benue House of Assembly.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the bill was read for the second time on the floor of the house during plenary on Wednesday.
Leading the debate on the bill, the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Nick Eworo (Obi/APC) stated that the community guards, if established, would assist the police in detecting and preventing crimes, especially in the rural communities.
“The vigilante groups will maintain law and order in the communities. They will also ensure peace and safeguard lives and property.
“Their functions will also include detection and prevention of bush burning, illegal logging and deforestation.
They will also be responsible for mobilising labour and supervising community development activities,” Eworo explained.
He pointed out, however, that while section 9(1) of an old law provided that the services of the vigilante group was voluntary and non-salaried, clause 9(1) of the proposed law stated that their services would be voluntary but salaried by the community, associations and local governments.
Eworo argued that the proposed law would foster a more professional, committed and dedicated vigilante group to cope with the mounting security challenges in Benue, and moved that the bill be read for the second time.
Seconding the motion, Mr Adam Okloho (Adoka/Ugboju/PDP) stated that the vigilante group would help security agencies to checkmate crimes in the state.
“Our security agencies have not been able to grapple with the security challenges facing Benue, but with the vigilante group in every corner of the state, crimes will reduce because the guards will be closer to the people and get information,” he said.
Supporting the motion, Mr Iana Jato (Vandeikya/APC) said that many youths would be gainfully employed if the bill was passed.
The Speaker, Mr Terkimbi Ikyange, who also spoke in favour of the bill, stated that Benue people deserved their own security outfit to safeguard their lives and property.
Ikyange, therefore, invited the Clerk of the house, Mr Terese Agena, to read the bill for the second time.
NAN reports that after the second reading, the speaker committed the bill to the committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for further legislative processes.