Lagos – The Deputy Commandant of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Mr Emmanuel Ayirise, has  in Lagos declared that the group had no license to carry or use guns.
Ayirise made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen on the abuses by vigilance groups.
Ayirise said the group had no licence for the use of guns, emphasising that any member of the group seen carrying a gun had a personal licensed by the appropriate authorities.
“We don’t use or carry guns, but in some few cases where you see few members carrying guns, these are people who individually have licences for their guns.
“You have civilians that have licences for their guns and you also find some of these individuals in the group,’’ he said.
The deputy commandant, however, said the group had plans of meeting with the Federal Government to make the group a federal agency.
“We have been sensitising the people and the government to know the role the group is playing as far as the security of Nigeria is concerned.
“Our intention is to be able to get the government to transform us into a federal agency just like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC).
“If we are recognised at the federal level, the government will be the one to arm us,’’ he said.
Commenting on the issue, the Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, confirmed the police’s collaboration with local vigilante for community policing.
Nwosu told newsmen  that the collaboration was helping the police to serve the people better.
“Local vigilantes are also in collaboration with the police because of the security situation we find ourselves in and because of our belief in community policing.
“We agree that the community that we seek to serve have a role to play to help us to serve them better.
“To this extent, some neighbourhoods actually have some reasonable neighbourhood vigilance groups that report to the police,’’ he said.
Nwosu added that the local vigilantes and neighbourhood watch were already aware of the police’s superiority as offenders they arrested were immediately handed over to the police.
“In some instances, you find them arresting people who have committed one crime or the other before now.
“The first thing they do is to hand them over to the police for appropriate action to be taken,’’ Nwosu said.
Nwosu said the police sometimes called for meetings with the vigilante groups just to make sure they work under the supervision of the command.
“Sometimes we call for meetings of these neighbourhood watches, like some estates have these security outfits that help to patrol their neighbourhoods under the supervision of the police.
“And they help to keep these communities safe,’’ he said.
On firearms by the group, Nwosu said anyone carrying any firearm must be licensed by the competent authority.
“The competent authority according to the Firearms Act is the Commissioner of Police in the state.
“So, whatever names any group is called, either vigilante or non-vigilante, possessing any illegal firearm is a criminal act.
“If it is not licensed by the commissioner of police of that particular state, the person will be arrested and charged for illegal possession of firearm,’’ Nwosu said.
He added that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Kayode Aderanti, had earlier on his assumption of office, warned anyone with illegal possession of firearms to submit it or face the law.
“The commissioner of police gave the warning when he came on board that those who are in possession of illegal arms should return them to the police.
“And the warning goes to everyone either you are a vigilante or not,’’ he said.
The police spokesperson added that the police would continue to clamp down on offenders until Lagos was crime free.
The  reports state that illegal possession of firearms contravened Section 328 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.