Wike de­clares war as kid­nap­pers throw Rivers into con­fu­sion

Daily Trust - - CRIME - From Vic­tor Edozie, Port Har­court

Cult gangs and kid­nap­ping rings have be­come a law onto them­selves in Rivers State killing, rap­ing women and snatch­ing peo­ple at will. Some se­cu­rity of­fi­cers also fell in the bat­tle to check their deadly ac­tiv­i­ties.

Com­mu­ni­ties in the state, had at a point, be­come the­atres of war where ri­val cult gangs en­gaged each other in a bat­tle of su­pe­ri­or­ity.

In Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of the state, ri­val cult gangs and kid­nap­ping rings break the law at will, un­leash­ing ter­ror on res­i­dents, seiz­ing others for ran­som and rap­ing women.

In com­mu­ni­ties such as Ahoada, Omoku, Egi, Egbeda, Ubima, Uk­wunzi, Ula-Uk­pata among others, the res­i­dents had at a point taken refuge in nearby com­mu­ni­ties while women no longer went to farm for fear of be­ing raped by the crim­i­nals.

In Ahoada prov­ince, the paramount ruler had in­voked the spir­its of the an­ces­tors to go af­ter the cultists, who had made life un­bear­able for the res­i­dents.

The ri­val cult gangs sus­pected to be on a reprisal mis­sion, had in­vaded Aluu com­mu­nity in Ik­w­erre Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area where scores of peo­ple, in­clud­ing some se­cu­rity per­son­nel, were killed.

The cultists later took their ne­far­i­ous mis­sion to other com­mu­ni­ties in Emuoha and Obite in Etche Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area. Scores of lives were lost.

The 2 Brigade Com­mand of the Nige­rian Army then is­sued a strong warn­ing to cult gangs in the state to turn in their arms and em­brace peace.

The warn­ing, which was con­tained in a press state­ment is­sued by the com­mand's Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Capt. Lazarus Eli, came on the heels of the in­va­sion of Aluu com­mu­nity by cultists dur­ing which some sol­diers were killed.

The com­mand warned also warned par­ents to ad­vise their chil­dren and wards to re­frain from any ac­tion that would un­der­mine the se­cu­rity of the state and so­licited the sup­port of the pub­lic in vol­un­teer­ing in­for­ma­tion that would as­sist them in fight­ing crime in the state.

The state Gover­nor, Nye­som Wike, who was wor­ried about the de­vel­op­ment, at­trib­uted the up­surge in cult-re­lated wars to supremacy bat­tle be­tween ri­val groups over multi-na­tional oil com­pa­nies’ con­tract.

The gover­nor, while play­ing host to top man­age­ment staff of a for­eign oil com­pany in Port Har­court, blamed the up­surge in cult war on oil com­pa­nies that awarded con­tracts to cult groups to watch over their oil pipe­lines.

The gover­nor has been bat­tling to re­deem the im­age of the state from the neg­a­tive press that the cult war had gen­er­ated in the state.

He lineup lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional events to be hosted in the state as proof that it is peace­ful. The events in­clude the Na­tional con­fer­ence of the Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion (NBA), as well as the Nige­ria Guild of Ed­i­tors (NGE) meet­ing.

Early this year, the gover­nor had also do­nated more than 60 ve­hi­cles to the law en­force­ment agents to as­sist them tackle in­se­cu­rity in the state.

He also re­it­er­ated his of­fer of amnesty to cultists and kid­nap­pers who sub­mit their weapons to the state se­cu­rity agen­cies and com­mit them­selves to hon­est liv­ing.

Wike also re­cently spon­sored a bill tagged Anti-kid­nap­ping bill which em­pow­ered the state gov­ern­ment to de­mol­ish and take over prop­er­ties of any per­son in­volved in kid­nap­ping and cultism. The bill was re­cently passed into law by the state as­sem­bly and ac­cented by the gover­nor.

Al­ready, Gover­nor Wike, in com­pany of sol­diers and po­lice­men, has su­per­vised the de­mo­li­tion of the home and hide­out of a sus­pected cultist and kid­nap­per, Mu­nachim Ihunwo in Ru­mu­lu­moni com­mu­nity of Obio/Ak­por Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of the state.

The gover­nor, who spoke to jour­nal­ists shortly af­ter the ex­er­cise, stated that his ad­min­is­tra­tion has zero tol­er­ance for cultism and kid­nap­ping. He said any sus­pect ar­rested would face the full weight of the law.

He said that the ar­rested sus­pected cultist and his boys have ter­rorised 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.

"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."

He added, "Let them sub­mit their arms and we will give them amnesty. "

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 would lead to the ar­rest of crim­i­nals.

Brief­ing Gover­nor Wike on the op­er­a­tion that led to the cap­ture of the sus­pected cult king­pin, Lieu­tenant Colonel A.C. Unaogu said Mu­nachim Ihunwo ran a camp with 200 armed crim­i­nals. He noted that the se­cu­rity agen­cies are work­ing round the clock to lo­cate the camp.

He said the cult king­pin and his boys were cap­tured in their hide­out which had 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 lands hith­erto owned by the sus­pected cultists.

The gover­nor also led an­other team of se­cu­rity agen­cies to de­mol­ish prop­er­ties owned by an­other sus­pected cultist and kid­nap­per at the Ea­gle Is­land area of Port Har­court.

The gover­nor in com­pany of the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Fo­luso Ade­banjo, su­per­vised the de­mo­li­tion of two cultist camps in the area - one lo­cated be­hind the Re­deemed Church and the other known as An­doni camp - where he said a po­lice sta­tion and com­mu­nity hos­pi­tal would be built.

He said the war against cultism and kid­nap­ping would be sus­tained to en­sure that peo­ple car­ried out their law­ful busi­nesses with­out mo­lesta­tion.

Gover­nor Nye­som Wike of Rivers State in­spects some of the kid­nap­pers' dens in the state re­cently.

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