The Bayelsa State Government on Tuesday directed local government councils to set up vigilante teams in every community to work closely with the police and other security agencies in the state.
The Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the directive at separate meetings with traditional rulers from Kolokuma/Opokuma and Yenagoa Local Government Areas at the Government House, Yenagoa.
Ewhrudjakpo said present administration’s zero tolerance stance to cultism, banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities in the state would be sustained.
While assuring the councils of the state government’s assistance towards strengthening community-based vigilante groups, Ewhrudjakpo called on the police to properly profile members of such groups to check sabotage.
He said necessary modalities would be worked out with the councils to maintain the vigilantes across the eight local government areas of the state.
The Deputy Governor added that the state government had set in motion, machinery to revamp and relaunch its Operation Doo Akpo Security Outfit to fight crime and insecurity.
Ewhrudjakpo called on traditional rulers and other community leaders to cooperate with security agencies as well as start the implementation of government’s directive on profiling of visitors and non-indigenes in their communities.
He said: “This meeting is to appraise the security situation in our communities and discuss how we can strengthen our security machinery.
“That is why all the service commanders including the Commissioner of Police are here.
“All hands must be on deck to build a safe and stable Bayelsa State.
“From this September, we want you to fully comply with the Bayelsa State Government’s directive to register all strangers coming into your communities.
“On our part as government, we are ready and will continue to defend our zero tolerance towards cultism, armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of crimes.”
In their separate remarks, traditional rulers of Kolokuma and Opokuma Kingdoms, King Mozi Onya Agara and King Collins Aranka, commended the state government for giving traditional rulers a sense of belonging in the governance of the state.
Aranka, however, decried the absence of police in Opokuma clan and requested for the urgent establishment of a police post in the area.
Also speaking, the Amananaowei of Sabagreia community, King Boukumo Orukari, appealed to government and the security agencies to establish a military checkpoint along the Igbedi Creek, which he described as a notorious route for kidnapping.
Also on their part, the Ibenanaowei of Gbarain Kingdom, King Funpere Akah, and Obenibe of Epie, King Malla Sasime, called for effective implementation of the state anti-cultism law to ensure the prosecution of arrested cultists.
While saluting the efforts of the various security agencies in the state, they however urged them to do more in policing the Yenagoa metropolis.
In their submissions, the Service Commanders, including the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng, spelt out the dangers of harbouring criminals and urged the traditional rulers to always avail them with timely and actionable intelligence.
Echeng assured that a number of measures would be taken to streamline the operations of vigilante groups in the state in line with extant best practices in community policing.
Other Service Commanders, who also spoke and gave their phone numbers to the traditional rulers, included the Commander, Nigerian Army 16 Brigade, Brigadier General Olurotimi Awolo.
Others were the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Soroh Yenagoa, Commodore Patrick Effah; Commander, Sector Two, Operation Delta Safe, Colonel Yahaya Ibrahim; and State Commandant, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Kupi Bako