Tony John, Port Harcourt
Since the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, gave a marching order to community leaders, particularly traditional rulers, to expose suspected cultists and other criminal elements, to eliminate criminality, or face the consequences, no community leader, even local government bosses, wants to fall victim. They (community leaders) have been organizing programmes in their respective councils and communities to re-orientate some deviants against indulgence in crime.
Recently, a security seminar was held in Ahoada West Local Government Area of the state, at the instance of the council chairman, Evangelist Hope Ikiriko. The programme, which was held at the LGA’s headquarters, Akinima, attracted representatives of the military and paramilitary institutions.
The LGA has, in recent time, gained notoriety following incessant cult-related killings and kidnappings. The upsurge in violent crime, some natives said, have drastically retarded the economic wellbeing of the people. Also, the socio-political life of the citizens have reportedly experienced setback.
However, worried about these situations, the council boss, Ikiriko, convened the security summit, to look for a way out of the quagmire. At the programme, he read a riot act to cultists and crude oil thieves in the area. The special security summit was tagged: ‘Strategy session on the Security Architecture and Situational Critique’.
Ikiriko pointed out that oil bunkering was the major cause of cult war in Ahoada West LGA. He added that cult groups struggle to be in charge of illegal oil deal.
Ikiriko said: “Insecurity in Ahoada West, in particular, borders on cultism and bunkery. Henceforth, your will begin to see both the military and police and other security agencies in your farms because there is an order by the Federal Government to step up their efforts on security and clamp down on kidnappers, cultists and other criminals.
“They are not coming after you, but after those, who have made the area uncomfortable for us. Since the situation had gotten out of hand, government must be on top of the situation and they want to show their capacity.
“Ahoada West is part of this country and, therefore, they must enforce that also in this local government area. If your brother is in cult, or your sister is in cult, it’s not too late to repent and embrace the amnesty offered by the governor of the state”, he advised.
He vowed that any community, where cultism is encouraged would not be tolerated, stating that all youth groups and their leaders found to be involved in cultism would be dissolved by the government and would be prosecuted.
“Going forward, communities, where cultism and kidnapping are encouraged, we will toe the line of our governor. We have his full support and we have his support in this regard. We will not allow crisis in our communities. If you don’t want to end the crisis, the law will take its course.
“We are working with Legislative Council to present an Executive Bill that is geared towards ensuring the review, profiling and security checks on the youth bodies, and their activities, including the conduct of their elections,” Ikiriko stated.
He accused security agencies in the area of not doing enough to end oil theft and criminality in the area in Ahoada West. He noted that illegal oil bunkering is fueling insecurity in the area.
Ikiriko disclosed: “We are willing to give amnesty to repentant cultists, criminals. All those, who will repent and turn a new leave, as we open the window of olive branch, the government will give them support, rebuild and equip them with necessary skills for proper reintegration into the society.
“Enough is enough. Cultism, kidnapping and other related activities, will not see the light of the day. If you say, we will not sleep, you also will not sleep. We will continue to provide every logistics needed for security agencies to tackle the insecurity”, he added.
However, Eze Maxwell Okpara Okpokiri, Eze Igbu Ubie IV, noted that traditional rulers were worried over the insecurity in the area.
Okpokiri said: “ I also want to say that, our brothers, our children, our friends, relations, those who are the cause of insecurity in Ahoada West, we know them. Family chiefs know them, community chiefs know them, youth leaders know them, and we have refused to talk.
“Within your community, if there is insecurity, if you are chief, you will be removed; if you are a youth leader, you cannot report insecurity in your community, you want to condole it, if such report gets to me, you will be removed before I will be removed”, he warned.
Meanwhile, the Divisional Police Officer, Akinima, Bako, urged the youths to drop arms and embrace peace. He vowed that after the summit no camp of any sort will exist in Ahoada West. He maintained that the would not be any escape route for unrepentant cultists that are determined to trouble the peace of the LGA.
He said: “Any youth in Ahoada West that carries arm, no be only you get arm oh. Me, DPO I get arms. Anywhere you are, any forest you are, I will follow you go there.
“I will never allow any camp in Ahoada West, anywhere there is camp in Ahoada West, come and tell me. We have able hands, we will come together and crush them.
“We are trained to fight; follow the peaceful way and lay down your arms. You cannot defeat government,” the DPO warned.
One of the cultists, who simply gave his name as Fineboy, said his group members were willing to toe the path of peace. He promised to cooperate with security agencies to ensure their communities are in peace.
He stated: “We are ready to accept the conditions of the security agencies. We will support security agencies to see that there is peace in our communities. What we want is the cooperation of security agencies too. They should not use this opportunity to hunt us for accepting to cooperate with them. We also want other group members to do the same thing we have decided to do”.