From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Council boss of Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State, George Alli has revealed that his administration has been able to fight the issue of cultism, kidnapping, and armed robbery to a standstill through educative and enlightenment programs.
It would be recalled that at some point, Otukpo, the ancestral home of Idoma nation became the hub of cultism in the state during which many people were either killed, maimed or kidnapped.
Alli who spoke with newsmen in Makurdi at the weekend said the council had to call security council meetings where security experts were brought in to educate the locals on the dangers of cultism and other related crimes.
“It hasn’t been easy. When we came in as a council, there were issues of insecurity in Otukpo and its environs because Otukpo is metropolitan in nature. Otukpo has practically all the local governments in zone C and everybody wants to settle in Otukpo.
“Basically, the setting of Otukpo is quite different from the rural local governments that you see and once you have any local government that has this metropolitan nature, crime rate would be obviously higher compared to other local government areas that are rural in nature.
“But what we did in the last couple of months that has resulted in us not having any reported cases of cultism, robbery, kidnapping or any of such crimes in Otukpo is that I called an expanded security council meeting and I brought in experts to come and talk to our locals.
“We brought in an Assistant Inspector General of Police, we brought in some Generals that came and some security experts from Lagos. We had a fruitful two-day deliberation and came up with a lot of resolutions.
He said one of the resolutions reached at the meeting was to set up a five-member committee made up of people who have proven integrity to tackle the issue of cultism and drugs-related matters.
“We know that practically people that rob these days are between age bracket of 18 and 30 years whom when often caught, confessed that they are cultists or members of one fraternity or the other.
The Otukpo council boss who revealed that many of the nad boys had since renounced their membership of cult groups and embraced amnesty said the next line of action was to go after sellers of hard drugs and clamp down on them with a view to stopping the supply of illicit drugs to the youths.
“We have a very organized neigbourhood watch who work together with the security agencies in Otukpo. We use them more because they know who is who and those strangers who come into their domain.
“For example, if you are living in a neigbourhood and you are not a worker; you don’t go out from morning until about 7pm, then once it is 10pm, you go out and they don’t see you until the next morning, it becomes questionable and people should be able to ask questions. So, these are the things that our neigbourhood guys are doing and it’s been very effective.
“When they arrest, they take the suspects to the police who do the prosecutions and take them to court. So, Otukpo has been quite peaceful. I pray and believe that we are going to sustain what we have started so that Otukpo will be the Texas of Benue again,” Alli said.