Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Traditional rulers in Delta State have thrown their weight behind the proposal of the state government to establish an independent security outfit to be known as ‘Operation Delta Hawk’ to confront rising security challenges.
The government had on Tuesday announced plans to set up the security outfit in response to the disturbing trend of killings, kidnappings, maiming, armed robberies and other violent crimes in the state.
The native chiefs under the aegis of the Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers said the independent security outfit was long overdue, saying that their various kingdoms and communities were under siege by criminals suspected to be herdsmen who have established camps in far away bushes from where they launch their onslaught.
The Chairman of the Council and the Obi of Owa Kingdom, Dr Emmanuel Efeizomor, further urged the state government to introduce a whistleblowing policy in order to encourage information from volunteers in local communities.
The native ruler also advocated that membership of the outfit be community-based in order for it to achieve the goal of its establishment.
Dr Efeizomor, speaking alongside the Obi of Onicha-Ugbo, Obi of Issele-Uku, Obi of Atuma, Obi of Idumuje-Unor, Obi of Umunede and the Obi of Akumazi, also commended the Delta State Police Command for its efforts to rid the state of criminals and called for a concerted effort to achieve the desired objective.
He, however, tasked the police to double their crime-fighting operations, especially with regard to the havoc by suspected herdsmen.
‘These people who have camps in the bush across the state should be made to leave the bushes. They should not be allowed to live in the bush from where they come to commit crimes,’ the Obi said.
He debunked insinuations that royal fathers were involved in secret land deals with herdsmen who turn around to make life unbearable for their host communities, saying that the herders rather invade the bushes knowing that the communities lacked the wherewithal to confront them.
Dr Efeizomor said he has never heard of the practice where a traditional ruler will be ceding native land to invading herdsmen, adding the subjects will revolt against such a monarch as the rampaging herdsmen have become thorns in the flesh of settled communities.
‘We have people invade our bush, set up camps, rape our women, destroy crops in the farmlands, kidnap our people, kill security agents and royal fathers. So everybody should be involved in keeping security.
‘These people don’t live with us in the town like other settling ethnic nationalities, they are not registered voters, they don’t partake in community development, they settle in the bush knowing that the communities don’t have guns to confront them. It means that all persons in the society must join hands to ensure that they leave.
‘These herders carry out these evil acts uncontrolled. We are calling for a concerted effort that will rid the state of these criminal elements and the traditional rulers are ready to give our one hundred per cent support to this initiative by the governor to set up an independent security outfit which is long overdue,’ he said.