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INSECURITY: Bayelsa Govt Directs Councils To Set Up Vigilante Teams

the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo
The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa state, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.

September 18, (THEWILL) – Bayelsa State Government on Monday directed local government councils to set up credible vigilante teams in every community in their areas to work closely with the police and other security agencies in the state.

The state deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo gave the directive at separate meetings with traditional rulers from Kolokuma/Opokuma and Yenagoa Local Government Areas in Government House, Yenagoa.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, said the expanded meeting had in attendance service commanders together with House of Assembly members, Commissioners and chairman from the two local government areas.

The statement quoted the Deputy Governor as restating the present administration’s zero tolerance stance on cultism, banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities in the state.

While assuring the councils of the state government’s assistance towards strengthening community-based vigilante groups in the fight against crime and criminality, Senator Ewhrudjakpo called on the police to properly profile members of such groups to check sabotage.

He said necessary modalities would be worked out with the councils to maintain the vigilantes across the eight local government areas in the state.

The deputy governor also said the government had set in motion the machinery to revamp and relaunch its Operation Doo Akpo security outfit to fight crime and insecurity.

He called on the traditional rulers and other community leaders to cooperate with security agencies as well as start the implementation of the government’s directive on profiling of visitors and non indigenes in their communities.

His words, “This meeting is to appraise the security situation in our communities and discuss how we can strengthen our security machinery. That is why all the service commanders including the Commissioner of Police are here.

“All hands must be on deck to build a safe and stable Bayelsa State. From this September, we want you to fully comply with the Bayelsa State Government’s directive to register all strangers coming into your communities.

“On our part as a government, we are ready and will continue to defend our zero tolerance towards cultism, armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of crimes.

“The Governor and I never came into office aided by cultists and criminals. So we are ready to fight them with God and every other means at our disposal. They had better change or leave Bayelsa for elsewhere.

“The police and other security agencies should step up their game. Come to every community including my own Ofoni Community to get rid of those criminal elements.

In their separate remarks, the monarchs of Kolokuma and Opokuma Kingdoms, King Mozi Onya Agara and King Collins Aranka, commended the state government for giving traditional rulers a sense of belonging in the governance of the state.

King Aranka, however, decried the total absence of police presence in the entire Opokuma clan and requested the urgent establishment of a police post in the area.

Also speaking, the Amananaowei of Sabagreia Community, His Royal Highness Sir Boukumo Orukari, appealed to government and the security agencies to establish a military checkpoint along the Igbedi Creek, which he identified as a notorious route for kidnapping.

On their part, the Ibenanaowei of Gbarain Kingdom, King Funpere Akah, and the Obenibe of Epie, King Malla Sasime, called for effective implementation of the state anti-cultism law to ensure the prosecution of arrested cultists.

While saluting the efforts of the various security agencies in the state, they however urged them to do more in policing the Yenagoa metropolis.

In their separate submissions, the service commanders including the State Commissioner of Police, CP Echeng Echeng, spelt out the dangers of harbouring criminals and urged the traditional rulers to always avail them with timely and actionable intelligence.

CP Echeng assured that a number of measures would be taken to streamline the operations of vigilante groups in the state in line with extant best practices in community policing.

Other service commanders who also spoke and gave their phone numbers to the traditional rulers include the Commander, Nigerian Army 16 Brigade, Brigadier General Olurotimi Awolo, the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Soroh Yenagoa, Commodore Patrick Effah, Commander, Sector Two, Operation Delta Safe, Colonel Yahaya Ibrahim and the state Commandant, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Mr  Kupi Bako.