From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has read a riot act to individuals engaging in gunrunning believed to be fuelling crisis in local communities.
Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who issued the warning over the weekend, said those engaged in gunrunning operations should desist from the activity or face the full wrath of the law.
Ewhrudjakpo, addressing the chiefs and people of Peretoru Community at a resumed meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, explained that the meeting, the third in a week, was aimed at resolving the leadership tussle between two factions over the chairmanship of Peretoru Development Committee.
A statement from Ewhrudjakpo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubra Atasi, quoted the deputy governor as saying that the warning was a response to rumours of arms buildup in some communities, including Peretoru Community in Ekeremor Local Government Area.
He advised parties in disputes or individuals whose rights might have been violated in any form not to resort to take the law into their hands.
Ewhrudjakpo assured that the Diri administration would leave no stone unturned in its determination to maintain and improve on the prevailing security in the state.
The deputy governor warned gunrunners and their sponsors that the government would not hesitate to wield the big stick against them.
‘I want to tell everybody from Peretoru Community that the capacity of government should not be tested by any individual or group. I’m saying this because of the reports at our disposal,’ Ewhrudjakpo stated.
‘This government will not allow anybody to pile up arms in our communities for the purposes of destroying our communities. If anybody thinks he has some support from anywhere, we will move against that person and his sponsor.
‘This government has that capacity. So, take this warning seriously. If you know, you have one godfather or “juju-father” anywhere that is encouraging you to stockpile firearms, we must come for you.
‘The idea of people taking to arms at the slightest provocation has to stop in this state. You must know that we are a government. If your rights are breached, you go to court,’he said.
The Amananaowei of Peretorugbene Federated Community, Chief Timi Odikeme, the President of its Welfare Association, Mr Famous Daunemughan, narrated the remote and immediate causes of the crisis rocking the community.
Speaker after speaker, including Dr Peter Singabelle – Chairman of the Bayelsa State Civil Service Commission, and past President of the Peretorugbene Welfare Association – appreciated the state government for its intervention and called for the deployment of security operatives to the community.