Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has explained that the state’s security outfit popularly known as ‘Bakassi Boys’ is not a local militia group contrary to insinuations in some quarters.
Ikpeazu said the clarification had become necessary following speculations by mischief makers that his recent directives to revive the vigilante group amounted to recruiting a local militia to fight Fulani herdsmen.
The governor said that there was nothing strange or to be jittery about in the resolve of the state government to revive the vigilante group, contending that after all, the security outfit has been on ground in the last 16 years.
His words: “The security outfit came into existence over 16 years as a reaction to the disturbances of hoodlums in Aba and was later elevated to a vigilante service group.
“The neigbouring states also engaged their services in combating armed robbery when the hoodlums seemed to have overwhelmed the statutory agencies.”
Ikpeazu vowed that no amount of blackmail would make him back-down on the proposal, hinting that he is beefing up the outfit with over 500 men “because they are needed in the communities to fence off security threats and sniff out crimes and criminals in the communities”.
He however added that “they need to know clearly where their power stops and where that of the Police begins.”
Ikpeazu further explained that his action in reviving the outfit now is in reaction to the security issues confronting not only in Abia but the entire country.
He said that the state vigilante services would undergo a new training “for them to be educated on their limits and boundaries as a support service to the statutory law enforcement agencies and for them to be abreast of their new roles in the face of the emerging security challenges facing the country.”
Ikpeazu explained further that as an organ of the security protected by the laws of Abia State, the unit has a well articulated chain of command with commanders in various local councils and zones, stressing that what the men of the service need now is a training in the language of security and skill for intelligence gathering.