ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Bayelsa State chapter, has expressed worry over the alleged infiltration of strangers in communities, riverines of Bayelsa State.
It said the apprehension was borne out of the unparalleled scale of insecurity and increased criminality that had led to enormous loss of lives and property resulting in an emerging culture of fear in the country.
The CLO in a communique released on Sunday after its general meeting on the state of insecurity in Nigeria raised the alarm over the alleged influx of persons whose states of origin were doubtful into Bayelsa State.
The organisation in a communique signed by Comrades Alagoa Morris, immediate past Secretary and Chairman, Communique Drafting Committee (CDC); Timi Igoli, State Secretary and Secretary, CDC; and Seiyefa Akebo, member (CDC), said there were indications that some violent crimes in the country were committed by foreigners.
The CLO said such strange persons were found both in the land and waterways in rural communities, the hinterlands and in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
The group also claimed that their style of settling in group/clusters among indigenes had become a source of concern as their character traits posed threat to law-abiding citizens.
The CLO, therefore, called for concise orientation and enlightenment of ‘Bayelsans’ in the area of provision of basic services such as tricycle for transport, fishing, etc., advising that locals should be encouraged to be self-employed in those aspects of commercial/livelihood activities.
The commique said: “The current security situation in the state is a cause for concern, thus the CLO calls on all community leaders’ forums to educate community leaders to be wary of providing unhindered access to land for free settlement to people with unclear mission under any guise.
“A community leaders’ forum should be activated for the sensitisation of community leaders. This is more so as information is rife about foreigners perpetrating some of the atrocities in the country and Bayelsa State and other parts of the Southsouth are experiencing violent crimes of proportions never experienced before in recent times.”
The CLO also requested that the manpower of men of the Nigeria Police available to the society be increased and their control (rapid response) lines made more effective, condemning the unchecked killings in parts of the state.
It equally demanded licensing and establishment of private security organisations to provide security services for organizations and individuals who could afford such instead of using the police or officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) meant to provide security for the general public.
The CLO said the security services by the police, military and other security agencies should also be provided for coastlines, creeks and rivers of the state, recommending the establishment of Coast Guards to make the communities and travelers feel a sense of security and safety.
The communique reads in part: “Coast Guards should be mainly indigenes who also have adequate knowledge of the creeks, rivers and rivulets in areas of postings. Those to be engaged for this should be given the necessary short-term intensive training on relevant areas such as human rights/human relations, information technology, intelligence, swimming, gathering, and handling of weapons for effective service delivery.
“It is no longer secret that Bayelsans, especially residents of Yenagoa and environs are being fleeced by the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company [PHEDC], paying estimated bills for darkness. CLO frowns at the poor power situation and estimated billing of a larger percentage of residents and calls on the government of Bayelsa State to impress upon the PHEDC to provide meters for residents.
“Henceforth, the CLO would embark on collection of signatures of those who are paying bills to institute a court action if the ugly situation continues. The CLO is also charging the state government to consider alternative sources of power supply like the gas turbine as of old and partnerships, such as that between the Nigeria Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and the state government.
“In view of the above, CLO demands clarifications on the current position of those involved in the near successful theft of the Gbarain gas turbines and called for their immediate prosecution.
“Bayelsa State Judiciary Panel of Inquiry: The CLO is very much aware that the police, military and other security agencies are in the Exclusive List and Federal Government responsibility. However, following the EndSARS nationwide protest on police brutality, the Bayelsa State government was part of the league of states that set up the Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
“And the panel has since completed its assignment and submitted a report to the state government. CLO is hereby calling on the relevant government agencies to implement the recommendations of the Panel of inquiry; including cash compensation to victims. The Bayelsa state Government should play a leading role in this.
“CLO laments the dismal voter awareness in the state, solicits support and partnership to educate residents on registration and collection of PVC.
“Blocking of Roads for religious and other activities: The CLO frowns at the unwholesome use of public roads by groups and persons obstructing free flow of traffic and commuters which can lead to break down of law and order.
“The Bayelsa State Government should come up with a policy statement to prevent public disorder in the common interest. This includes religious groups causing road blocks and denying other road users thoroughfare.