From Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Government has set up a multifunctional task force that would ensure the enforcement of a ban on scrap scavenging, ban on motorcycle operators popularly known as okada, in the Uyo metropolis and capital city as well as a ban on open grazing and other sundry offences in the state.
This comes following the ban on activities of scavengers which the state government announced through the secretary to the state government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwen on January 4 following the death of three persons caused by a fallout between scrap scavengers and the Indigenes of the community.
The Senior Special Assistant to Gov Emmanuel on security matters and special services, Capt. Iniubong Ekong (Retd.) who disclosed this to journalists on Monday, said the inauguration of the task force was to ensure that the government’s directives were obeyed to the letter for the safety and security of the people.
Ekong explained that the enforcement became imperative in order to tackle any internal insecurity in the state noting that most heinous crimes such as rape, burglary, stealing from investigations were being perpetuated with the use of motorcycles.
“We have seen ugly development that Okada has started creeping in especially in Uyo metropolis, and part of Uyo capital city. This has not in any way helped the positivity of our security architecture
“Again we have seen the menace of the scrap operators on the livelihood and peace of our people. Actually the government has not in any way positioned itself to block peoples’ lead sources of livelihood, but, the freedom of one to conduct business must not impede on the right of existence of the other.
“Government will not keep quiet and allow a set of business ‘entrepreneurs’ who want to survive and grow their business at the expense of freedom and livelihood of any other person. Every other citizen is equal to the other in all ramifications and the government has the responsibility to guarantee freedom, safety and peace for all.
“Consequent upon this, government has set up enforcement team on ban to move around to ensure total compliance”
Ekong announced that there would be a mobile court sitting in Ibom Hall Uyo, for trial of defaulters adding that motorcycles seized would be crushed publicly even as he disclosed arrangement with the crushing company from Aba Abia State, which would be performing the exercise every two weeks.
When asked where the governor draws his powers to place ban on scrap scavenging, he said, ” If you say there is no law backing the governor’s pronouncement is laughable because scrap itself is a direct consequence of environmental cleanliness or otherwise, if there is a law to have protection on the environment and consequent laws on infringement then scrap as an environmentally disorderly function is totally included in environmental laws of the state.
Addressing the law enforcement officers, which included men and officers of the Nigeria Police, the Military, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence, Captain Ekong charged them to be diligent and not to engage in physical combat with defaulters as there is existing law waiting for them (defaulters).
While noting that no one is exempted from the ban, especially the officers that ride okada in the banned zones, Ekong disclosed that Gov Emmanuel has approved an allowance and welfare package for them.
Also speaking, CSP Henry Kaboshio urged the team not to compromise, stressing, “just arrest offenders and allow the law to take it’s cause.”