Safe Schools Initiative: FG to engage hunters, vigilantes on intelligence gathering

“Research has shown that the fear of insecurity is worse than insecurity itself,”

Safe schools initiative: fg to engage hunters, vigilantes on intelligence gatheringThe National Coordinator, Financing Safe Schools Initiative, Mrs Halima Iliya, says plans are underway to actively engage hunters and vigilantes on intelligence gathering to curb attacks on schools across the country.

The National Coordinator gave this indication in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.

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She said that aggressive community engagements and sensitization of students, parents and teachers will kick-off in the second quarter of the year.

“As a component of the plan, for states with local vigilantes, we intend to train their hunters, vigilantes and volunteers while for states without registered vigilantes we intend to advocate to use youths.

“Youths will volunteer to protect their communities because we cannot achieve anything within a community without their involvement.

“We will bring them to the security architecture for them to defend and protect their communities in the areas of intelligence gathering, prevention and detection deterrent capabilities,” Iliya said.

Iliya disclosed that there are plans to also use the platform of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) because of their presence in all the local governments.

She said they will be used to reach out to the grassroots by developing some training manuals that could be converted to local dialect of communities for efficient communication.

“We are done with the second phase of the implementation of the safe schools national plan where all security agencies involved have trained their personnel on safe schooling which has been streamed into their operations.

“We have also written to all states, including the FCT, to furnish us with information on the most at risk schools in the three senatorial zones and one tertiary institution.

“We want states to take ownership then we tailor the intervention towards this as these are the ways to make significant impact,” she said.

Dr Ahmed Audi, Commandant General (CG), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), said the Corps, being the lead agency in the protection of schools, is dedicated to ensuring that schools are adequately protected in collaboration with other security agencies.

“That is why the three Cs; coordination, cooperation and collaboration cannot be over emphasised as this has yielded results amongst security agencies in recent operations so I think we are on the right track,” he said.

According to Audi, because the NSCDC regulates the operations of Private Guard Companies (PGCs), they have been leveraged on to contribute their quota to the security architecture of the country by providing intelligence reports.

He said that the Corps had introduced the School Community Security Vanguard which has a non-kinetic approach in engaging communities, parents/teachers associations, traditional rulers and youth leaders in various communities with a view to discussing security issues.

The National Safe School Response Coordination Centre (NSSRCC) Commander, Hameed Abodunrin, said that the Center had engaged in continuous sensitization of schools on the risks and dangers associated with not being security conscious.

Abodunrin, however, said that during the sensitization programmes, operatives were careful to avoid creating unnecessary panic in the minds of citizens.

“Research has shown that the fear of insecurity is worse than insecurity itself,” he said.

He also revealed that there are plans to conduct a School Security Awareness training with the acronym, SAFE, involving a pocket-size security tips book that every student in Nigeria should have.