The Rivers State Governor, Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has declared that the state government would not tolerate any attack on other Nigerians living in the state by members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) or any other group.
In a state broadcast on the state security situation on Friday, Governor Wike announced that Rivers State belonged to all those living in it, saying that the state heartily welcomed any Nigerian who decided to reside in it and engage in their lawful businesses.
“The Rivers State Government is seriously concerned with the recent activities of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), particularly the attack on Nigerian citizens living in Rivers State.
“Rivers people fully subscribe to Nigeria’s corporate existence and its indivisibility. As a people we shall continue to support the unity and peaceful co-existence of all ethnic nationalities and work towards actualizing our collective aspirations for a just, inclusive and progressive nation.
“Rivers State belongs to all those who live in it. We heartily welcome any Nigerian who wishes to reside here and go about with his or her lawful businesses. Therefore, we shall not tolerate any attack by any group on other Nigerians living in Oyigbo or any other part of the State. We warn troublemakers and those who are bent on causing violence on others to steer clear of Rivers territory.
“Nobody should take our hospitality and peaceful disposition for weakness, as we are capable of dealing decisively with any situation that threatens peace and serenity in the State,” Governor Wike warned.
The governor added: “We call on Rivers people to be vigilant and not to allow themselves to be used by anybody to foment trouble in our State. Do not hesitate to report any suspicious character or movements around your vicinity to the law enforcement agencies for immediate action.
“In as much as we may share common concerns about the structural problems of the country, we believe that dialogue, not violence, remains the best way to resolve contending political issues. We therefore pray the Federal Government to initiate meaningful national dialogue to peacefully resolve the structural challenges that are threatening Nigeria’s stability and progress.
“In the same vein, we urge the security agencies to exercise maximum restraint and conform to international rules of engagement and best practice while responding to provocative acts from ill-advised groups,” he said.
Governor Wike further condemned what he described as the deliberate sabotage of the state’s security architecture by the alleged direct criminal activities of the Rivers State Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS).
Governor Wike alleged that for several months the state government had been receiving reports from traumatised victims who had been allegedly robbed of their valuables by SARS Operatives under the guise of conducting searches.
According to Governor Wike: “They employ several malevolent methods, including planting illicit drugs on their unsuspecting victims as bargaining chip or forcefully taking them to ATM boots to collect specified amount of money as ransom for their freedom.
“Furthermore, while the noticeable increase of kidnapping incidents along the East – West road and the Owerre – Port Harcourt road are worrisome, some of the rescued victims have reportedly pointed SARS operatives as the ones that are responsible for most of kidnappings along those roads.
“Although the veracity of these allegations can only be fully established through an independent probe, the recent killing of a SARS operative while carrying out a kidnap operation by the Inspector General of Police’s Special Squad clearly lends credence to SARS direct involvement in criminal activities across the State,” Wike stated.
The governor reassured Rivers people of the commitment of his administration to work together with the security agencies and the police to guarantee the safety and security of lives and property across the state, despite the “deliberate obstacles from SARS”.
He called on members of the General Public to be vigilant and always be ready to protect themselves from the criminal machinations of SARS Rivers State.