Echoes of witchcraft as Reps passes vigilante bill 

By Alex Okoro and Bakare Majeed

OrderPaperToday – Amid a mild drama over witchcraft belief, he House of Representatives has passed the bill seeking to establish the Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN).

If signed into law, the VGN will have the responsibility of complementing the Nigerian Police force at the local communities of Nigeria.

The Bill sponsored by Tajudeen Abbas, (APC, Kaduna) canvassed the provision of community policing, maintenance of law and order, as well as community service for Nigerians.

Recall that the bill after passing second reading was sent to the House Committee on Police Affairs for further legislative work.

The Chairman of the Committee, Haliru Jika (APC, Bauchi) while presenting the report for consideration on Tuesday noted that vigilante groups are essential to the effective policing of the country as a whole.

According to him, “the general opinion during the public hearing was that the passage of the bill will compliment the work of the police, as appendage of the force”.

While considering the bill clause by clause, the chairman of the committee of the whole and the Deputy speaker, Yusuf Lasun, urged the members to listen attentively so as to ensure the bill represents the views of the people.

It was at this point that the use of the words ‘witchcraft’ and ‘rumour mongering’ became contentious.

Mr. Simon Arabo (PDP, Kaduna) expressed reservation about the use of the word witchcraft but he was however countered by Mr. Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau) who noted that the vigilante group is for the local level where the belief (witchcraft) is a major cause of crisis.

Pwajok also argued that since the penal code makes provision for witch craft, the word should be allowed to stand.

The bill scaled the consideration and was read for the third time and passed.

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