Peace has returned to roads in Rivers State, especially communities in Ikwere Local Government Area known for kidnapping, cultism, rape, murder and other criminal activities.
Hitherto, travellers and commercial drivers plying Elele road to Owerri in Imo State and Bayelsa State painted gory pictures of criminal operations carried out by armed youths from Ikwere communities bordering the road.
Investigations revealed that most people lost their lives, sustained gunshot injuries while others were kidnapped by the hoodlums and kept in bushes until ransom was paid by the victims’ families.
The Executive Chairman of Ikwere Local Government Area, Samuel Nwanosike, said the situation was horrible when he took over the mantle of leadership of the council.
He said roads linking some communities such as Isiokpo, Elele, Ubima, Omarelu, Aluu, Omagwa and others were impassable because of the activities of criminals, who made lives horrible for commuters and drivers.
He said most communities were ghost towns as cultists sacked residents, who ran to Port Harcourt and other peaceful communities for succour.
He said, “Insecurity was part of our major problem in this local government area. There was a time Isiokpo was a ghost town. Young men took to drugs and serious crimes.
“They were holding light weapons. They were lurking around the local government. It is now a thing of the past. Kidnapping in Elele, Owerri road; Ubima, Omarelu, Aluu, Omagwa. Some days we had five cases.”
But Nwanosike expressed happiness that after two years of his administration, he and his team worked with the state government and other stakeholders to flush out the criminals terrorising the council.
He said, “When we came in, we got a clear and direct mandate from the governor to work with security agencies and ensure the protection of lives and property throughout the local government area.
“We gave our all and tackle insecurity with the commitment, strength and vigour it deserved. And with the support of our governor and security agencies, we took the battle to the criminals in their dens and ensure they were routed and decimated.
“We encouraged the repentant criminals to embrace the governor’s amnesty programme and effectively hounded and dealt with those, who declined to turn a new leaf. We encouraged, empowered and funded vigilantes to take charge of the security of our communities and provide intelligence to the formal security agencies.”
Nwanosike said he embarked on provisions of police stations and community policing institutions in the state, adding that construction of police stations were also ongoing in Ubima and Apani.
He said, “We have placed members of the vigilant groups and related community security institutions on stipends to motivate and sustain our efforts to secure the local government.
“We are happy to report that the state of insecurity in Ikwere is largely reduced. We will neither relent nor lower efforts to rid the criminal elements and safeguard lives and property in our local government area.”
Apart from security, Nwanosike said his administration intervened in the area of education enrolling 1500 candidates annually in external examinations; delivering 10 classroom blocks to Aluu Community Secondary School and 14 classroom blocks to Omagwe Community Secondary School.
He said his government embarked on modern construction of modern secretariat, community development, sports development, agriculture development, empowerment and job creation, workers’ welfare among others.