Following rising insecurity in Eleme, stakeholders have again met to review strategies already put in place to contain the trend.
About two months ago, stakeholders and security agencies met at a Security Summit at the Eleme Civic Centre, Ogale and proffered far-reaching measures to tackle insecurity in the area. However, renewed security breaches in Agbonchia, Onne and other parts of Eleme has forced stakeholders to reconvene to review strategies mapped out to restore sanity in Eleme as a whole.
Among the fall out of the meeting was a ban on Okada at the affected areas and dusk to dawn curfew imposed by the authorities of Eleme Local Government Council. In addition, the Eleme Council of Chiefs and Elders, led by the Acting Oneh Eh Eleme, His Royal Majesty, Emere (Dr.) Philip Osaro Obele met and issued a communiqué on the state of security in the area.
It would be recalled that four persons were recently killed by unknown gunmen in Agbonchia, including the Security Chairman, Mr. Ajiwa Osaro Ogolo,who was also popularly known as Ajisco.
A statement signed by the Press Secretary, Eleme Local Government Council, Nwafor Oji Awala in relation to the latest security breaches reads in part: “In ensuring the safety of lives and properties within Agbonchia and its environs, residents are hereby advised to exercise restraint and remain calm and report any suspicious movements to Law Enforcement Agents.
“The deployment of security personnel to all flash points within the area has also been directed to ensure compliance with the order and to avert any further breach of law and order.
“The Chairman, having also noticed the use of motorcycles by some of these criminal elements to commit atrocities and escape with ease, also placed a ban on the use of motorcycles between 6.00pm to 6.00am. The order takes effect from today, the 9th of April, 2019 till further notice”, it stated.
In an interview with the Eleme Council Chairman, Hon. Philip Okparaji, he assured residents of Eleme of Council’s effort at restoring peace and security working in synergy with security agencies. His words: “One of my priorities is security. When I came in, I was able by the special grace of God and the support of security agency to bring the situation under control. We will partner with the security agency to ensure that we restore peace, security, protection of lives and property in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“We will not relent in our effort in going after those boys who think they can terrorize, intimidate the people of Eleme, we will not accept that as a government. It is our responsibility to protect lives and property and we will do that in Eleme.
“We will look at how we can train some of them in skill acquisition as I will always say, we will train some of them in skill acquisition, I have said it that the days of white collar jobs are over, so we will see how we can partner with some reputable organizations to train some of our men, people and our boys, that is what we can do.
“The priority of my government as you are aware is security, security of lives and property. We must rise to the challenges, we must rise to the occasion to ensure property and lives are protected and to ensure that security is restored in some of the communities where we are having some cult activities and I am calling on the security operatives not to rest on their oars. We have told the communities to give us information about these boys, because there is no way we can go after them without adequate information on their activities. So I want to still appeal to the communities to report these boys to the security agents”, he said.
Meanwhile, in a 10 point communiqué issued by the Eleme Council of Chiefs and Elders, they observed that the present insecurity in Eleme, particularly Agbonchia is worrisome and alarming and therefore called on the government at all levels to scale up efforts to arrest the situation to avoid further escalation.
The communiqué reads in part: “The relevant stakeholders in the area such as religious bodies, civil society organizations, youth groups have critical roles to play to douse the palpable tension, and ensure all citizens live in peace and harmony;
“That the chiefs and elders of the land condemn in its entirety, the spate of kidnappings, killing and wanton destruction of lives and property in Eleme including the brutal murder of the Security Chairman of Agbonchia, Mr. Ajiwa Osaro Ogolo, also known as Ajisco;
“That the youths of the various communities ravaged by conflicts should embrace peace and dialogue and resolve their differences rather than revenge and promote circle of violence and insecurity in the area”.
The communiqué further stated: “That government should beef up security especially in Agbonchia and Eleme in general where youth restiveness has ravaged the communities; That we call for the formation of vigilante groups in all the clans of Eleme whose responsibility will include securing the area in synergy with the security agencies; That non-indigenes and indigenes who are not doing any legitimate business but are however instigating violence in Eleme land should either turn a new leaf or find their way out of Eleme forthwith;
“That the Eleme Council of Chiefs and Elders support the Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government Council, Hon. Philip Okparaji in his efforts to tackle insecurity and commend the provision of caravans to house the Joint Task Force in Agbonchia by the Council; That the Eleme Council of Chiefs and Elders support the ban on Motorbike popularly known as Okada and Tricycle known as Keke from operating beyond 6.00pm daily by the Eleme Local Government Council; and that the Eleme Council of Chiefs and Elders thank the Governor of Rivers State, Eleme Local Government Chairman and the Security Agencies for their efforts so far and urge them to consolidate on their achievements to ensure security is restored in Eleme considering its high population density and commercial activities as host of major Government institutions and multinational business concerns and investments”.