By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Free Rivers Development Initiative (FRDI) has called on the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris and other security agencies to as a matter of urgency stop Governor Nyesom Wike, from inaugurating a vigilante organisation known as the Neighbourhood Safety Corps in Rivers State.
Wike hadÂ last week Thursday assented to the Rivers State Neigbourhood Safety Corps Bill 2018 which is meant to provide security across the state.
But the group alleged that the real intention of the governor was to use the corps to intimidate his political enemies, adding that if the inauguration of the corps is not stopped they will rather set up their own and arm them to watch each other.
The President of FRDI,Â Mr. Ngerebala Sampson, in a briefing in Abuja yesterday, alleged that about 200,000 cults and militia with arms, groups of all shades, exist in the state.
Sampson warned that arming the youths under the guise of vigilante group was an attempt to create a private militia for political purpose.
He also said it was evident that Wike â€œhas no regards for court processes, when in the face of the pending suits before the Federal High Court, he signed the Neigbourhood Safety Corps Bill into law.â€
Flanked by Hon. Chidi Lloyd, Hon. Asita Hon. and Prince Tonye Princewill, he said the recent history of vigilante activities and their aftermath in Borno, Bayelsa, Abia, Anambra and Ondo States were experiences that should not be repeated.
According to him, strong support by Senate Minority Leader,Â Senator Godswill Akpabio, to the motion moved by Senator Dino Melaye against the establishment of similar vigilante group in Kogi State in the red chambers gives credence to our position
He said: â€œWe are calling on the IG and other security agencies to take steps and stop the governor from inaugurating the Rivers State Safety Corps.
â€œWhereby our call is not heeded to, our reaction will be to also set up our own Neighbourhood Safety Corps to watch Wikeâ€™s Neighbourhood Safety Corps. We shall cloth them with uniforms and apply for arms for them through the police, then the two Neigbourhood Safety Corps will police each other. We cannot allow what happened before, during and after the 2015 general election in Rivers State to repeat itself in 2019.
â€œYou all know that before, during and after the 2015 general election, Rivers State experienced unprecedented number of political assassinations, where members of our party were gruesomely murdered in cold blood; their offence being that they were members of All Progressives Congress (APC).
â€œThose killings continued until recently when the federal forces killed some of the death merchants of Governor Wike. The rate of violence and killings that occurred in Rivers State during the period under review, led to Rivers State being described as a theater of war.â€
The group also said it was raising the alarm to the danger of the law when it was a bill before the state House of Assembly. â€œRivers State has over 200,000 cults and militia with arms, groups of all shades, arming the youths under the guise of vigilante group is an attempt to create a private militia for political purpose.
â€œDespite all these concerns, the governor was adamant and desirous of getting the bill passed into law as unconstitutional as it was. Two suits were filed at the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt challenging the bill and seeking an order of injunction restraining the governor from giving assent to the bill. The said suits were duly served on the governor, but governor ignored the suits and purportedly signed the bill into law.â€
While narrating his experience, Lloyd said the state government has tried several times to prosecute him but withdrawn its case because the government could not substantiate any allegation against him.