By Simeon Nwakaudu
Since the March 19, 2016 rerun elections in Rivers State which witnessed a high level of violence in some constituencies, the state has experienced some security challenges. These security issues have led to the deaths of innocent residents of the state.
Top on the list of the crimes committed across the state are cultism and kidnapping. These two crimes have impacted negatively on the rural economy of the state, dislodging some communities in the process.
However, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in line with his development blueprint, ‘New Rivers Vision’, has been working round the clock to make Rivers State secure, safe and peaceful. The governor has opened up lines of collaboration with the Federal Government, security agencies and critical stakeholders to fight crime, guarantee the safety of the people and secure lives and property across the state.
Governor Wike has also developed and enhanced surveillance networks in the local communities to provide intelligence for security agencies to root out criminals in the communities. With the direct involvement of stakeholder groups in all the communities, the results are pouring in, despite the challenges posed by political interference from politicians from the governing political divide.
The amendment of the Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) Law Number 3 of 2009 by the current Rivers State House of Assembly and assented to by Governor Wike provides for additional penalties, including confiscation of assets derived from kidnapping, cultism and related crimes formed one of the most outstanding contributions of the administration to the promotion of security in the state.
The governor made the law functional by attaching a cash reward of N1million to any person who gives a useful information that leads to the arrest and successful prosecution of notorious cultists and kidnappers in the state. Several credible informants are already working with security agencies and the state security architecture set up by Governor Wike.
For the security personnel who are foot soldiers in the fight to secure Rivers State for meaningful development to take place, Governor Wike has set in place quality monetary compensation and support for the families they leave behind should they unfortunately be victims of violent crime.
Needless to say that the Wike administration has continued to provide logistics and financial support for all the security agencies in the state. These investments have been yielding the right results.
With the right foundation laid in terms of laws and security architecture, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has commenced the consolidation of achievements by taking the fight to the kidnappers and cultists in the state. Through his strategies, he has taken measures to ensure that these criminals are rooted out of the state and their crimes made unattractive to the youths.
The administration is also floating an amnesty scheme for repentant criminals in different local government areas who surrender their weapons to state security agencies and turn a new leaf.
Youths across the state are positively responding to the amnesty offer of the state governor. In Ogba/Ndoni /Egbema Local Government Area several youths have laid down their arms in line with the amnesty programme of the state government.
Determined to rid Rivers State of cultists and kidnappers, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has directed the immediate demolition of property acquired through the crimes in line with the state anti-kidnapping and cultism law.
On Tuesday, 29th June, 2016, Governor Wike in company of soldiers and policemen supervised the demolition of the home and hideout of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area notorious suspected cultist and kidnapper, Munachim Ihunwo in Rumuolumini community.
The governor stated that his administration has zero tolerance for cultism and kidnapping. He said any suspect arrested will face the full weight of the law.
He informed that the arrested suspected cultist and his boys have terrorized Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, creating insecurity in the commercial zone of the state.
He said: “The Rivers State Government has taken over the criminal hideout of these arrested cultists. After the ongoing demolition of their hideout, we will build a police station and mini barracks in this location. We have also taken over the home of the kingpin that we have also demolished. We will build a befitting health center there”.
“This is to let members of the public know that this administration is serious. We will not allow anyone to cause insecurity in this state. We will chase criminals to their hideout and recover crime”.
Speaking further, Governor Wike said: “Let them submit their arms and we will give them amnesty “.
The governor declared that the state government will continue to demolish the homes and hideouts of confirmed cultists and kidnappers to serve as a deterrent to would-be cultists and kidnappers.
He commended the combined team of soldiers and policemen for effectively fighting criminals in the state.
Governor Wike appealed to the people of the state to continue to cooperate with security agencies by providing relevant information that will lead to the arrest of hardened criminals.
Briefing Governor Wike on the operation that led the operation that led to the capture of the suspected notorious cult kingpin, Lieutenant Colonel AC Unaogu informed that Munachim Ihunwo runs a camp with 200 armed criminals. He noted that the security agencies are working round the clock to locate the camp.
Lieutenant Colonel Unaogu said that the cult kingpin and his boys were captured in their hideout which has a shrine with human skulls. It was learnt that the demolished home of the cult kingpin also has a tunnel and shrine with human skulls.
Governor Wike directed the Special Adviser on Lands, Anugbum Onuoha to initiate the process for the government to acquire the lands hitherto owned by the suspected cultists.
The successful arrest of Munachim Ihunwo is considered a major breakthrough in the governor’s fight against kidnapping and cultism as he has been linked with insecurity along the Rumuolumini axis, disrupting the operation of several multi-national companies in the area. The attendant loss of revenue is unquantifiable.
The fight to dislodge violent criminals across the state is being fought on all fronts. Governor Wike has stated that nobody will be spared irrespective of his or her political inclination. In this struggle to rebuild the security in all the communities of Rivers State, there will be no respect for the dropping of the names of the names of prominent political parties in the state. That is why the governor condemned the plot to politicize crime in the state through the use of higher connections to release murder suspects, kidnap and cult kingpins from detention facilities.
He explained that such actions indicate that some persons are interested in destabilizing the security of the state for unpatriotic reasons.
Addressing the leaders of Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Monday, 27th June, 2016, Governor Wike said those plotting against the state will fail as he will confront them with the People’s Mandate.
He said that those who are working against the interest of Rivers State in the name of politics, must remember that Rivers State is critical to the development of the nation.
The governor noted that he will always work for the unity and progress of the country as a patriot, despite the distractions.
He said: “There is a grand conspiracy against Rivers State. But I don’t know in whose interest. I believe in the unity of this country, therefore I will continue to work for its development and security “.
He added that very deliberate steps have been taken to undermine the security of the state, pointing out that the Headquarters of the security agencies intervene to release deadly suspects arrested by operatives on ground.
The governor has also improved the dispensation of justice in the state by improving the working condition of the state judiciary and ensuring their independence. Only recently, he supplied 57 Honda cars to magistrates working across the state and started the process for the construction of Judges Quarters in the Government Reserved Area of the State Capital.
The State Ministry of Justice has been equipped to work with security agencies to prosecute suspected criminals in the state.
The governor’s investments in the improvement of security across Rivers State are targeted at creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. This is turn will consolidate the economic growth being witnessed in the state with the attendant benefits of mass employment and improved standard of living for the people of the state.
Already, the state is reaping the benefits of the administration’s investments in the security of lives and property.
Speaking on Tuesday, 28th June, 2016 in Port Harcourt while commissioning the multi -billion-naira Port Harcourt Gardens Estate, Governor Wike said credible investors are already taking advantage of the prospects of the state.
He said that the return on investment in the state is about the highest in the country, despite a few challenges being experienced.
He said: “Investors are already aware of the benefits of investing in Rivers State, hence they are coming in their numbers. This housing estate is one of the recent investments that have added value to the state.
“I am particularly impressed because the promoters of this project were groomed in this state. They returned because they have confidence in what we are doing in terms of creating an enabling climate for businesses to thrive”.