As the controversy over the establishment of a security outfit named the Neighbourhood Watch Corps by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers rages on, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Tuesday appealed to the Federal Government, stakeholders, church leaders, and elders of the state to stop the governor from signing the bill into law.
The APC stated that, the bill still awaiting the governor’s signature, violated the exclusivity of firearms to the Federal Government as enshrined in the Constitution and that acquisition of guns, ammunitions, and explosives were within the Exclusive Legislative List of the Federal Government, as contained in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The party said that after a careful examination of the dangers of the governor’s assent to the bill as passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly on 15th of February, 2018, the security outfit could bring calamity to the state as its establishment would amount to a declaration of war on the people of the state.
The party in a statement signed by Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, the State Chairman and circulated by Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, his Media Consultant and the general public, alleged that going by the bloodletting that accompanied the 2015 general elections, more political killings would happen in the years ahead.
“This sinister bill that authorizes the Neighbourhood Watch (Wike’s private Army) to carry arms, enter, search and arrest citizens without warrants is mischievous, diabolical, evil, wicked, and unacceptable,” the statement read in part.
The party alleged that allowing Governor Nyesom Wike to formally arm “his militia would not only pose severe threat to the security of everybody in Rivers State including those urging him on this sinister plot, but will make the audacity, evil, satanic, autocratic, and fascist regimes of Mobutu Sese Seko, Emperor Fidel Bokassa or legendary Idi Amin of Uganda to be Saints and Angels of their countries.”
The party alleged: “We are talking about Nyesom Wike who in 2014 ordered his militia group to attack and stone the Northern Governors that were on official visit to Rivers State. We are talking about Wike who ensured that then Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was so humiliated and embarrassed that on several occasions he was prevented from entering the Government House.
We are talking about Wike who proudly influenced five members of Rivers State House of Assembly constituting 32 members to attempt to impeach then Rivers State Speaker, Rt. Hon. Amachree with Amaechi as a target.
“We are talking about Wike who rode to power on the blood of hundreds of APC members being allowed to have a legally backed private army that will turn Rivers State into a hell and making Yemen, El Salvador, Burundi and Pakistan paradise on earth,” the statement read.”
The statement continued: “The party expressed shock that Governor Wike who claims that he has no money to award academic scholarships to our students or pay them their Bursary entitlement, could not pay Pensions or salaries of Civil Servants for over six months or employ any Rivers State indigene into any meaningful enterprise but could budget a whopping sum of N22 Billion Naira (N22B) on buying guns and ammunitions to arm our youths to kill themselves.
This is not only wicked but exposes Wike’s shallow understanding of the principles of governance and his devilish intentions against our youths.”
The party reiterated that “Wike has destroyed the future of the youths of Rivers State by destroying the educational sector of the State and denying them qualitative and functional education but prefers through initiation of the Neighbourhood Watch bill to turn our youths into crimes by arming them to kill and constitute themselves as nuisance to the State and the country at large,” it continued.
The Rivers APC then commended the Inspector-General of Police,IGP, for directing that civilians, vigilante groups, neighbourhood watch security groups, hunters should surrender their firearms with the licenses in 21 days as failure to comply would result in raids and clampdowns, followed by criminal prosecution for illegal possession of firearms.
According to the statement, the APC also asked the IGP Ibrahim Idris Kpotum to investigate the whereabout of the arms retrieved by the repented cultists and militants which was publicly exhibited at the Rivers State Government House by Governor Wike “as we are afraid that some of the arms are been reserved to arm this contentious and contagious Neighbourhood Watch Corps.”
Meanwhile Governor Nyesom Wike has declared that the State Neighbourhood Watch would not bear arms but meant to support security agencies with intelligence and information to prevent criminality in the state.
The governor made this clarification when flagging off the construction of Isiodu Road in Emohua Local Government Area last Saturday.
Governor Wike stated that he would sign the neighbourhood watch bill to give effect to the legal existence of the Neighbourhood Watch.
The governor said contrary to the “falsehood being spread by leaders of Rivers APC”, the state government was not planning to arm youths to cause mayhem.
He said that the Rivers State Government was being proactive by establishing the Neighbourhood Watch which would entrench preventive mechanisms that would protect lives and property across the state.
He said: “Neighbourhood Watch has nothing to do with carrying arms. Their duty is to complement security agencies across the state.
“Security of lives revolves around information and intelligence. Members of the Neighbourhood Watch will gather intelligence and information and pass same to security agencies for the protection of lives and property,” he said.
The governor said that the State Government would not be intimidated by the propaganda and falsehood on the Neighbourhood Watch.
“I will sign the Neighbourhood Watch Bill by next week. All these lies being spread will not stop us. The Neighbourhood Watch is for the good of our people. We have sworn to protect our people,” he stated.
The governor said that the youths of the state would be employed as the Neighbourhood Watch took effect.