ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
As part of the measures to tackle insecurity, the Bayelsa State Government has mandated local government councils to inaugurate credible vigilante teams in every community in their areas to work closely with the police and other security agencies in the state.
The 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.
Ewhrudjakpo in a statement on Tuesday by his media aide, Doubara Atasi, said the expanded meeting had in attendance service commanders together with House of Assembly members, commissioners and chairmen from the two LGAs.
He reiterated the Douye Diri administration’s zero tolerance stance for cult activities, banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities in the state.
He assured the councils of the state government’s assistance towards strengthening community-based vigilante groups in the fight against crime and criminality.
He called on the police to properly profile members of such groups to check sabotage.
He said the necessary modalities would be worked out with the councils to maintain the vigilantes across the eight LGAs in the state.
The deputy governor also said government had set in motion the machinery to revamp and relaunch its security outfit, Operation Doo Akpo, 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.
Ewhrudjakpo said: “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.
“Governor Douye Diri 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 submissions, the service commanders including the State Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng, spelt out the dangers of harbouring criminals and urged the traditional rulers to always avail them with timely and actionable intelligence.
Echeng assured the government 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, Mr Kupi Bako.