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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Wike signs controversial Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Law

Wike signs controversial Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Law

Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nysom Ezenwo Wike, has given his assent to the the controversal Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law No.8 of 2018.

The Governor also gave his assent to the Rivers State Secret Cult and Similar Activities (Prohibition) (Amendment) Law No.6 of 2018 and the Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) (Amendment) No.2 Law No.7 of 2018.

Giving his assent to the three laws passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Thursday, Governor Wike said that the laws are necessary to enhance security across the state.

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He said that Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps will support existing security agencies with intelligence and information for them to effectively fight crime and make the state safer.

The governor said that the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps cannot work without the approval of security agencies who will profile all the operatives.

He said anybody who loves Rivers State will not do anything to undermine steps that will enhance the security of lives in the state.

He said: “If your hands are clean, you have nothing to fear about the three laws that I have given assent to. By tomorrow, I will appoint the person that will head the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps.

“All criminals will face the full weight of the law. We will fight crime and ensure that the State is safe for investors “.

He debunked claims by opposition elements that the State Government plans to use the Neighbourhood Watch to arm youths. The governor said that the corps is a replica of what is already in existence in Lagos State.

Commenting on the Anti-kidnapping and Anti-Cultism Laws, Governor Wike said that stiffer penalties have been approved to discourage those who may want to be involved in the offences.

“If you are a cultist and you are caught, it is life imprisonment. If you are a cultist and you kill during cult activities, you will face the death penalty.

“If you are convicted of kidnapping and the Supreme Court affirms your conviction, I will sign the death warrant without looking back “, the governor said.

The governor said that the State Government will battle cultism and kidnapping to a standstill, noting that enough is enough.

Senator Representing Rivers West Senatorial District, Senator Osinakachukwu Ideozu said that the laws assented by the Rivers State Governor will strengthen security operations in the state.

Senator Ideozu described as unfortunate the failed attempt by Senator Magnus Abe to mislead the Senate on the Neighbourhood Watch. He said it is within the purview of the Rivers State House of Assembly to pass the State Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Law for the security of the state.

Senator Ideozu commended Governor Wike for being proactive in the promotion of security in Rivers State by giving assent to the three laws.

Presenting the bills, Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Martins Amaewhule said that the laws provided for stiffer penalties in the interest of the state.

He said that the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Bill was passed in line with extant laws and the constitution.

Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ikuinyi Ibani said the Rivers State Governor has made a difference through service delivery.

In a swift reaction,Dr Dakuku Peterside,the former Governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress,APC,has vowed he would join people of goodwill to challenge the controversial Neighbourhood Watch Bill signed into law by Governor Nyesom Wike in government today.

Since Rivers House Assembly passed the Neighbourhood Watch Bill several Rivers people including the former Majority Leader,Dr Chidi Llyod, and Chieftain of APC and a Lawyer have voiced their opinions against some provisions of the bill that seek members to bear arms, in addition to the governor having the powers to direct the agency to carry out arrest and prosecution of accused persons.

However, Dr Dakuku Peterside says such powers in the hands of Governor Wike will only cause more harm than good, especially in a state where several people are still wailing and mourning following the killings that trailed the 2015 general elections and subsequent re-run elections.

According to him, “Governor Wike has claimed on several occasions that the state is safe, it is therefore surprising that the same governor is now setting up a private militia as an alternative to law enforcement agencies.

“It is obvious to the least discerning person that his contraption is to arm his private militia. This is an attempt to use a legal platform to illegally arm his militia.

The fear of everybody in the state is the antecedent of the governor, who has been accused of associating with touts and criminals and it is not surprising that some of them have been given appointments by the same Wike.”

Dr Peterside, who is also the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) alerted members of the public that Governor Wike has on numerous occasion, stated that he does not have trust in the law enforcement agencies, hence this may be the reason for creating a private army.

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“This is one creation that Rivers people will vehemently reject. Never in the history of the state has any governor sought to do what Wike is trying to do now. Arming his militia is a signpost of danger and only those who are discerning enough will understand the thinking of the governor.

“Who will train the so-called Neighbourhood Watch members? Who selects and profiles them? Who will have the authority to control them? Who supplies the arms and registers them? Who accounts for their activities?

“Rivers people have been through tears, sorrow and pain in the last four years owing to the activities of thugs, kidnappers, cultists and hired assassins. Giving guns to people who have no formal training in arms handling and discharge may signal another round of mayhem,” he stressed.

The former governorship candidate of the APC in Rivers declared that he would join Rivers people to protest against the Neighbourhood Watch Law, in addition to using every legal means possible to challenge its propriety especially as it relates to bearing arms by members and the unjustifiable powers giving to the governor.

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