Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State, and the heads of the state’s security agencies have encouraged heads of local government areas (HOLGAs) and traditional rulers in the Edo South Senatorial District to join together and take charge of security issues in their respective domains by monitoring and reporting developments to the appropriate security agencies.
They delivered the charge at a Special Security Council Meeting on Monday, August 1, 2022, at Government House in Benin City, the state capital.
According to the Governor, the goal of the meeting was to obtain feedback from heads of local government areas and traditional rulers on the resolutions taken at the Security Council meeting on July 5, 2022, on how to address security concerns in their domains.
Obaseki said, “Some of what we agreed in the meeting was that each Security Council in each local government area would go back home and have wider consultations with other stakeholders, community leaders, village heads (Odionweres) to brief them on what was agreed at the last meeting and get feedbacks from them.
“So that when we have a meeting like this, we can hear from you about how they received those actions and how we are going to proceed.”
In order to broaden the stakeholder base, he urged: “To ensure that we continue to have stakeholders’ engagement, we have to expand the security council of each local government so that we can bring in some other stakeholders, particularly religious leaders and some important segments within the local governments.”
Speaking about areas of the State that are not under government control, Obaseki said, “In the area of ungoverned spaces like forests, we have completed documentation, an audit of all our forests in Edo State, particularly Edo South.
“We have done a fly over of all our forests and we are currently in discussions with the Federal Ministry of Environment and some other stakeholders to begin recruiting and training of the first set of new forest police to support the activities of all the other security agencies.
“In terms of squatters in markets, we are going to enforce a local government law, which stipulates that the local governments are the only ones to register markets and shut down illegal markets.
“As for the vigilantes, we have up to the 5th of August for each local government to give us the lists of every vigilante group operating in their local governments and the communities they are operating in, their names, telephone numbers and photographs of each member of the vigilante squads.
“They will be profiled by the security agencies by the 15th of August. The first 500 of these vigilante groups will resume for training at the Nigeria Police Training School, Ogida Barracks.
“We would like to have a report on how far the reconciliation has gone with the various hunter groups in each local government and the registration of the groups.
“By the 15th of August, we also want to have a list from the local governments of every person and associations that have been registered as motor bike riders, tricycle (keke nape) riders and taxi drivers in those local governments.
“Before the end of September, the Edo State government is going to launch the Edo State Residency Identity Card, and every resident of Edo state must have that card. That card will be linked to the national identity scheme of the country.
“So for those who have the national identity card, it will be linked to that identity card, and for those who don’t, we will use the process to also give you your own national identity card.
“The last issue I want to discuss is to formally inform you that I have signed into law the Edo State Prohibition of Open Grazing of Cattle and other Livestock Act.”
According to Abutu Yaro, Commissioner of Police, Edo State Command, the peculiar traditional government structure that exists in the State, as well as the expansive security architecture introduced by Governor Obaseki, have made policing easier.
“We believe that under our new arrangement that requires every local government, with the heads of the local governments, heads of the police and other security agencies and the traditional rulers working together as the first line of our security architecture, we should be able to do more.”
Yaro asked local council heads and dukes who live outside their domains to relocate to their domains and support the security setup there.
Air Commodore O.R. Abidoye of the Nigerian Air Force advised, “What the Governor has been saying is that you take charge of your locality. If you don’t take charge and know those who are in your community, and help us to know them, we will not know who to strike from the air.”
Representatives of the Benin Monarch, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, dukes and other chiefs, heads of different security agencies and vigilante organisations, and others were present at the meeting.