By Sam Hart
ANY Abian with genuine love for the state at heart will agree that the security situation in Abia State has reached a stage where it would no longer be enough to sit back and wish that the spate of kidnapping and armed robbery in the state will go away on its own.
An urgent need for serious measures has arisen and government, in fulfilment of its statutory responsibility to safeguard the lives and properties of its citizenry has risen to the challenge.
The State Governor, Chief T.A. Orji has not left anybody in doubt about his seriousness to ensure that the ugly stigma of an insecure state is wiped away from the description of Abia State. He recently addressed the stateÂ at which occasion, he outlined all the measures that had been taken thus far to stem the tide of armed robberies and kidnapping in the state.
Some of the measures government took to ensure a safe and secure Abia State included the banning of operations of motorcycle operators after 6.00pm. This action was taken in the aftermath of the realisation of the fact that most of the criminal acts are carried out with the aidÂ of motorcycles which make escape from the scene of the crime relatively easy.
The Abia State House of Assembly passed a law authorising the setting up of an Abia State Vigilante Services, under the supervision of the Police and equally passed the revised criminal procedure law which made kidnapping a capital offence in Abia State.
In addition to summary execution, properties of kidnappers and their accomplices will be confiscated and forfeited to government as they will be deemed to be proceeds of crime.
Government equally donated over 60 patrol vans to the Abia State Command of the Nigerian Police and other security formations to ensure effective patrolling of the streets of Abia State.
This is in addition to the institution of an insurance scheme which ensures that families of policemen who loose their lives in the line of duty are well catered for.
In addition, the Governor got the Inspector-General of Police to authorise the setting up of two new Police formations in the state. MOPOL 55 Squadron based at Nsulu and The Anti-Terrorist Squad withoperational headquarters at Obingwa.
Government equally put a reward system in place where the sum of N1million in cash was given to any individual that provided credible information on the activities of criminals leading to their apprehension.
In order not to act unilaterally on the matter and to ensure that allÂ stakeholders were kept abreast of the measures, the Governor held repeated meetings with traditional rulers of autonomous communities, okada riders, local government chairmen and other stakeholders to enlist their support in the fight against kidnapping in our state.
Government is not unmindful of the fact that some of these miscreants are non-Abians who relocated to the state when their previous bases became too hot for them because of the military operation in the Niger Delta. This prompted the Governor to enlist the cooperation of legislators atÂ both the federal and state levels for this fight and all hands are on deck.
Not satisfied with the impact of the measures and as a consequence of the realisation that no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of insecurity, government has just rolled out another set of policies aimed at comprehensively dealing with the security
situation in the state once and for all. The first measure is the setting up of a Special Anti-Kidnap Squad inÂ Abia State. The Special Squad will have mostly soldiers with policemen
and members of the State Vigilante Services. The squad have just been equipped with vehicles, interlinked communication equipment and other operational requirements. A retired Army Colonel whom government has appointed Security Adviser will coordinate the activities of the squad and ensure optimal results. For the duration of their assignment,members of the squad will be reporting directly to Government House, Umuahia.
Government equally deposed two traditional rulers, Eze Reuben NworguÂ of Ihe-Iyi Autonomous Community in Ugwunagbo Local Government Area and Eze Emmanuel Simeon Oforji of Isi-Obehie Autonomous Community inÂ Ukwa-West Local Government Area.
The deposed traditional rulers were constituting a clog in governmentâ€™s war against insecurity in the state. Also effective Monday, June 29, 2009, the Abia State Government, after due consultation with all relevant stakeholders, decided to limit the operations of motorcyclists to the rural areas of the state. All motorcyclists are prohibited from operating within the Aba metropolis, Umuahia metropolis, Obingwa, Ugwunagbo, Isialangwa North and South,Osisioma, Ukwa-East and Ukwa West local government areas.
This measure will subsist until an appreciable improvement is noticed in the security situation in the state.
Mr.Hart is CPS to the Abia State Governor.