From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area, Rivers State, Mr Erastus Awortu, has expressed worries over the proliferation of light weapons by vigilance operatives and disbanded a local security outfit known as OSPAC operating in the area.
Awortu made this known in Ngo, the headquarters of the council while inaugurating the new councillors, Vice Chairman and other key officers in his cabinet.
According to him, a more organised vigilance service would be deployed to the area in accordance with due process and community cooperations.
‘In respect to vigilante services, we are currently working with the peace committee set up by the chiefs,’ he said.
‘I advise all persons threatening the peace as a result of one grievance or another to channel their complaints to the chiefs.
‘In my discussion with the chiefs, I have been advised that we will need the vigilante services but this is going to be a properly organised group.
‘The formation will have the inputs of the chiefs, Community Development Chairmen (CDCs), the women and all the communities to enable us to maintain a safe Andoni.’
Awortu commended the security agencies for a timely response to an alleged attempt by an armed man to foment trouble during a thanksgiving session held on Tuesday in Ngo.
‘The suspect was allegedly seen to be approaching my direction armed with a pistol while I was in the church to dedicate our council to God. I do not know why the law allows everybody to bear arms,’ Awortu stated
‘I want the security agencies to investigate the matter and ensure nobody in Andoni who is not security personnel bears arms. If such persons are caught, let the full weight of the law visit them.’
He noted that aside from the federal government recognised security agencies and the state government security formation (The Neighborhood Watch) the local government area presently had not recognised any vigilance group.
The chairman, who was a practising lawyer until his new office, expressed dismay over the circumstances that led to shutting down courts in the area.
He, however, promised to strengthen operations of the judiciary and ensure that court activities resume as soon as possible.
‘I’m so excited that the Magistrate is here today. I have been informed that he has not been sitting due to security challenges, logistics and also the court premises that is in a bad shape,’ he expressed.
‘I have given directives to the Director of Works; we are going to ensure the court resumes business just like other courts.’