•Establish enabling law for vigilantes to carry firearms, confront killer-herdsmen
•No herdsman should carry firearms under any guise in Delta
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Jimitota Onoyume, Festus Ahon, Pereze Brisibe, Ochuko Akuopha, Sunday Chancel and Paul Olayemi
FOR several years, Deltans have watched exasperatingly, as the insecurity situation in the state flopped from bad to worse, especially with the virtually uninhibited actions of killer-herdsmen abducting people at will.
There are also challenges of police officers meant to provide protection for the citizens under the leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who is Chief Security Officer of the state.
Some of the citizens, who spoke to Vanguard before the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, announced, last month, that the state government was concluding phases of setting up a state security outfit, Operation Delta Hawk, knocked the government for remaining reactive and not proactive to security ruptures, over the years. Others, however, heaved a sigh of relief with the planned outfit awaiting its takeoff.
Operation Delta Hawk will be a combination of the regular security personnel and local vigilante operatives.
Vigilantes should have license to operate, carry firearms – Kokori, elder statesmen
Former secretary General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas, NUPENG and elder statesman, Chief Frank Kokori, saddened by the spate of insecurity in the state, said: “Okowa should summon his security council and give them the riot act that they should go after the armed herdsmen.
”He should also set up a government- backed vigilante. You do not just send people under the guise of vigilante without giving them license for their operations and guns. With an enabling law, the vigilante will be bold enough to pursue the herdsmen. He is the governor and he knows what to do” .
Stop open grazing, summon security summit – Emumena, activist
An Oleh based activist, Mr. Emumena Michael said: “The security situation in our dear state now is a serious concern. While herdsmen are wreaking havoc on unsuspecting farmers and their crops on one hand, kidnappers are ravaging the soul of the state on the other.
”It now appears as though Delta State do not have a Chief Security Officer or security men, who can protect the state against wanton destruction of lives and properties.
“The fact that security operatives that ought to save the situation and protect Deltans against such mindless destruction of lives and properties are irresponsibly defending the herdsmen and descending on our people has even made matters worse. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is fast losing his grips and powers to govern Delta state.
“I recommend that security meetings should be held immediately with stakeholders across the state to stop open grazing of cattle in Delta. The meeting should include traditional and community leaders, who are sometimes guilty of granting access to herdsmen to graze their cattle in surrounding farms and bushes after collecting money.
…declare total war on kidnappers
On the spate of kidnapping, security men must shift their attention from attacking innocent citizens to cracking down on criminals. Total war should be declared on kidnappers and their hiding places. Until we start taking drastic measures, these anomalies will continue in our state.”
Herdsmen shouldn’t carry firearms under any guise in Delta – Dr. Mudiaga-Odje
Constitutional advocate, Dr Akpor Mudiaga-Odje hailed the governor’s effort so far, saying herders should be registered by state governments and given identification cards.
“The powers of a governor under the Constitution and the powers of the police are listed in the Exclusive Legislative list, meaning that only the National Assembly can legislate on same.
“After considering this fundamental constitutional limitations, I will say the state government has done relatively well in tackling security in the state.
“The herdsmen found wanting or engaging in acts of criminality should be arrested and promptly prosecuted in court. The herders must not carry guns of any nature as they operate in the state.
…strengthen vigilante outfits
”The police in most cases lack the necessary will to arrest and prosecute these herders largely due from pressure on them by the godfathers of these herders or the bosses they work for. The communities need to strengthen their respective vigilante outfits to tackle the herdsmen even only with dane guns or bows and arrows.
State government not taking the initiative – Olorogun Egbo, APC governorship aspirant
Olorogun Jaro Egbo, a 2023 governorship aspirant on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC, said: “
Delta state government must think outside the box; the government must not be seen to be cuddling the rampaging herdsmen. Look at the Uwheru killings, the state government is yet to arrest a single herdsman for the pogrom visited on innocent citizens.
“The state government is also tardy and complicit in passing an anti-grazing law. And the Police seem hapless in handling of the killings, kidnappings and maiming of innocent Deltans,” he said.
Allow communities defend themselves –Ekiyor, former IYC president,
Former president of the Ijaw Youth Council, Dr. Chris Ekiyor, in his reaction, said: “What the state government needs to do is to enable communities have the capacity to defend themselves alongside surveillance of their communities.
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”But what we are seeing currently is government trying to get the police to do the work instead of the people taking responsibility for the society and their communities and in doing this, it means local vigilante and surveillance groups must be supported by the state government and not the caricature Special Assistants on Security, which I see as political jargon.
”Communities should be allowed to organize themselves while the police should support and also allow them use registered guns and be able to monitor their environments. What the government needs to do is that these vigilante operatives who are properly supported by the regular regimented police force can respond adequately, especially at the community level, hence they will not be taken by surprise by these criminals most of whom are armed with AK47 rifles.
”Also, the government should kick start a proper vigilante/surveillance system in community by community, cluster by cluster because if nothing is done, people will begin to own individual guns again and we are back to a war situation.”
Govt need to take proactive measures – Tobi, community leader
A community leader in Sapele, Mr Ben Tobi , said the problem of insecurity in the state was worrisome , adding: “Government need to understand what insecurity is, the governor needs to take proactive measures.
”The government need to look into each community, set up a credible team and hand over the security of that community into their hands, they should be security -minded people and let them have an input into the issue at hand, the government cannot do it alone,” he asserted.
Security specialists not SAs should handle security issues – Ekariko, community leader
Dr Vincent Ekariko, Sapele Okpe Community leader, and historian said what Deltans want is real security not the lip service the government has paid over the years to insecurity.
His words: ”We do not want security by imagination, we have different kind of security, but waking up and scared anything could happen to your life is the worst kind of insecurity, life has never been so insecure like it is now in Delta State, even in the days of the Midwest when civil war was going on, we were safer than now.”
”The problem with this government is that most of their appointees are political, when you appoint people on issues like security, you need to expatiate on what they are supposed to do. I will rather suggest that the real issue of security be in the hands of security experts not Special Assistants, SAs, who only collect salaries and do not work, “Dr Ekariko said.
Herdsmen have no law backing them, govt should dislodge them – Tabai JSC rtd
No matter how others view it, traditional ruler of Tuomo Kingdom, HRM (Justice) Francis Tabai, JSC (retd), said: “Okowa’s Operation Delta Hawk is a welcome development and he should work for morale backing from the federal government.”
He asserted: “No matter how strong these herdsmen are, there is no law backing their activities and it is not going to be easy for them when the state government takes appropriate measures”.
I commend the governor for his effort on security – HRM Luke
In his contribution, the traditional ruler of Akugbene-Mein Kingdom, HRM, Pere Luke Kalanama VIII, said: “By virtue of my position as the second vice chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers in the state, I want to say that Gov Okowa has made conscious efforts by working with all security agencies to ensure that there is peace in Delta state.”
”Just a few days ago, the governor introduced plan to launch Operation Delta Hawk, a security apparatus to actually check the excesses of herdsmen activities and other security challenges in the state.
”By and large, I will commend Gov Okowa for all his efforts in the area of security in the state, and as traditional rulers and by virtue of our position, we will ensure that we do the needful by lending support to His Excellency at all times so that the present insecurity situation will be nipped in the bud,” he said.
Police overwhelmed, commence neighborhood watch – Ikimi
Making a case for establishment of neighborhood watch in communities in the state, Executive Director of the Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged, CENTREP, Oghenejabor Ikimi Esq., said: “I believe that there is need for the establishment of neighborhood watch as a medium to checkmate insecurity in our communities.
”We wish to timorously advice not only Governor Okowa, but all governors of the South-South states to immediately set up neigbourhood watch in various communities within their respective states to possibly avert any form of insecurity in their areas including a likely calamity by Boko Haram insurgents.
”CENTREP believes that the task of policing our various communities in the South-South or other geo political regions in Nigeria should not be left entirely in the hands of men of the Nigerian Police Force, as they are overwhelmed and ill equipped to tackle the present state of insecurity in the polity.”
Neighborhood watch is the way to go – Nohwo, environmentalist
Also speaking, Executive Director, African Center for Environmental and Rural Development, ACERD, Mr. Fred Nohwo said: “Security agencies appear to be constantly out of strategy in resolving local threats such as herdsmen crisis, cultism, petty crimes and armed robbery. It appears that the regular police is in itself aiding the propagation of these crimes in the society.”
“The last major incident which led to the untimely death of scores of people in Uweru, Ughelli North allegedly aided by gun wielding military men is still fresh in the minds of many. As usual this goes unresolved like so many others.
”The state government failed to nip in the bud the many infractions committed by criminal minds. In so doing, a culture of violence was inadvertently created in the minds of community members, who became demigods in their individual domains seeking “deve”, owning fire weapons at will, some of which were acquired by do or die politicians.
”The clamor for community policing or what others refer to as state police has been on for ages. Amotekun probably has changed the way societal security will be viewed henceforth in Nigeria. In Delta State, the time to push at the reset button has come.
“My advice, however, is that no matter what the state government does, the initiative should incorporate neighborhood watch or community policing as its response to insecurity in Delta state.”
I commend Okowa for fight against insecurity – Alaowei, SA (Political)
National President, Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (CHURAC)/ Special Assistant (Political) to the Governor of Delta State, Mr Cleric E. Alaowei said: “The issue of herdsmen’s threats, I agree with, His Excellency, Sen. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa that our people are facing existential threats due to the rising insecurity in the land. Delta State being a state that is proactive in tackling security issues, the government has already taken steps to contain the frequent farmers/herdsmen’s crisis.”