The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko yesterday said it is a criminal offence for members of vigilante groups to carry rifles.
Manko’s reaction may not be unconnected with the killing of four undergraduate students of the University of Port Harcourt by suspected members of a vigilante group at the instance of their village head. The Lagos State police boss said vigilante groups are supposed to work with the police at the local level.
“They can arrest suspects and hand them over to the police whose responsibility it is to investigate and prosecute if the need arises. It is a criminal offence for members of the vigilante to carry guns,” he maintained.
Manko said anyone seen with a gun must have a valid license for it and such individual must have been duly screened by the appropriate authorities. “So it is a crime for one to have a privately licensed gun and in turn hand over same to vigilante group for security purposes,” he said.
Manko explained that if a vigilante member is arrested with a rifle issued to him by another person they will be arrested for illegal possession of fire arms.
He noted that members of the vigilante are there to complement efforts of the police, not to usurp the responsibility of the police. It will be recalled that four undergraduate students of the University of Port Harcourt were gruesomely killed by suspected members of a vigilante group at Aluu community in Rivers State.
The Inspector General of Police has vowed to fish out the killers, saying such barbaric act cannot be tolerated in any part of the country.