- Wike proposes death sentence for cultism, kidnapping
(Tony John – PORT HARCOURT)
Residents of Omoku, the headquarters of Ogba/Egbema /Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) of Rivers State, have expressed doubt about the killing of Don Waney and called on the Nigerian Army to bring his corpse to the community for confirmation.
Waney’s long reign of terror in ONELGA, which left several persons murdered and businesses closed, came to an end last weekend, after a combined team of military and Department of State Service (DSS) killed him alongside two of his allies in an Enugu State hideout.
This was as group of elated Omoku people yesterday, staged a rally to mourn those allegedly murdered by Waney and to jubilate over his death.
Omoku women, in particular, demanded military authorities to display his corpse at the council headquarters as proof that his death is not a hoarse as it happened in November last year, when security operatives raided his Aligwu home.
The rally was organised by Mela Claude Ake in conjunction with Omoku Youth Federation.
A scared septuagenarian said: “Let them bring his dead body. The last time they said they had killed him and we were happy, but he came back this New Year night to kill our children for celebrating his false death.”
The earlier fake rumour of his death, promoted by local vigilance group, ONELGA Security, Peace and Advisory Committee (OSPAC), was, however, not confirmed by the military and police unlike the case last Sunday.
The community youths called for an end to cultism and mindless killing in Omoku and entire ONELGA, blaming politicians and oil multinationals in the locality for patronising the criminals in the place and providing the motivation for the recurring killings.
Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike, has declared that the government will amend the state Anti-kidnapping Law to prescribe death sentence for criminals involved in cultism, robbery and kidnapping.
In a state broadcast yesterday on the killing of Waney, Wike said the state government has zero tolerance for crime and criminality, hence, it would take measures to protect lives and property.
He said: “We reiterate our zero tolerance for all forms of criminality and reassure all residents of our determination to be tough with those who choose to violate our criminal laws and undermine peace and security in the state.
“To underscore the seriousness we attach to the fight against violent crime, we shall be amending the anti-kidnapping law to prescribe the maximum sentence for cultism, robbery and kidnapping.”
Wike said the government’s amnesty programme, which generated peace and was largely successful before it was compromised by former governor of the sate, Chibuike Amaechi, who he said prevailed on the Federal Government and the security agencies to sabotage it.
He emphasised that APC leaders in Rivers State worked against the Amnesty programme.
He said: “Our decision to offer amnesty to all repentant cultists, militants and criminals was done in good faith and in the best interest of the state. Regrettably, while the programme was on course, some opposition leaders in our state, especially the former governor, unhappy with the successes recorded, dissuaded some armed militants and cultists from sincerely embracing the amnesty.”
Governor Wike said contrary to Amaechi’s false claims and posturing, the security challenge in Omoku predated the current administration. He said Rivers State was never peaceful when Amaechi held sway as governor, noting that the same Waney tragically killed 32 persons in Omoku on December 14, 2014, under Amaechi, who failed to bring him to justice.
The governor listed 32 cultists from 12 local government areas to be arrested and prosecuted by the security agencies.
“The Rivers State Government will pay N20 million to any person who volunteers useful information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of any of the afore-mentioned persons.
“As a government, we have invested heavily on the security of the state and will continue to do everything within our powers to guarantee the security and safety of lives and property throughout the state.”