Amnesty report on Rivers State very worrisome- Stakeholders - Insecurity
Tiamiyu Saheed Oluwatosin
International Rights Groups, Amnesty International has called on Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike to take steps to immediately put an end to gang wars in the state.
Amnesty International in a report signed by its country Director, Osai Ojigho claimed that over sixty lives were lost to cult clashes in different parts of Rivers state in the last ten months.
Reacting to the report, retired Colonel Chinedu Owhonda, who is also a security expert, in an interview with Press in Port Harcourt said the report by Amnesty International is something to worry about.
Owhonda said despite the initial success of the Operation Sting, cult groups have started re-grouping because of the failure of government to consolidate on its gains.
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The security expert, who called for the commencement of operation by the State Neighbourhood Watch, also advised security agencies and government to re-evaluate the mop up exercise to end proliferation of small arms in Rivers state.
As stated by him; “In the first and second quarter of last year things were going really bad to the extent that the cult boys were beheading people, unfortunately, the government at the State and Local government levels had no answer to the situation. It led to the displacement of a lot of people.
“People were no longer living in Rumuekpe, Ibaa and some other Ikwerre communities in Emohua Local Government Area. If you come to Rumuorlumeni in Obio-Akpor, Rumuekini, Alakahia, Choba, Rumualoghu and all those areas; people barely move around from 7pm not until government thought it wise to launch operation sting and the collaboration of OSPAC which to an extent calmed the situation in the state.
“The government can mop-up arms but were they able to sustain it? What they should have done is to engage the youths in handy vocational skills.”
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Similarly; the Civil Liberties Organization, CLO said the essence of the report by Amnesty International on the Security situation in Rivers state bothers more on violation of human rights.
South-South Zonal Coordinator of CLO, Steve Obodoekwe said this in reaction to the report published by the rights group.
Obodoekwe added that the report is demanding more efforts from the Rivers state government and that of security operatives
He explained that security operatives in the state must be proactive in protecting Rivers people.
He also said the Police needs to show sincerity by making public the identities of those arrested and prosecuted with regards to cult clashes in parts of Rivers state.
“When communities are under attack and when they raise alarm do we see timely intervention by security operatives especially the police?
“Now, that is what Amnesty International is asking them. So what they are saying is that the authorities should learn how to step up their operations to curtail the activities of these boys.”
Meanwhile; the Rivers State Police Command said the report by Amnesty International is not the true reflection of the security situation in the state.
Spokesman for the Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni told our correspondent on telephone that contrary to the report of the rights group, the Police have enjoyed the support of other security agencies to reduce the activities of cultists in the state.
DSP Omoni, who said the mop-up exercise of arms is still on-going, questioned the basis for Amnesty’s report.
As stated by Omoni, “I don’t agree with the report by Amnesty International, How did they arrive at the conclusion of that report? That report is not verifiable.
“You and I know that for sometime now Rivers state has been very peaceful. We are not going to accept any report that is aimed at undermining our effort or de-market the state.
“On reports that cult gangs have started re-grouping I can tell you that the Rivers State Police Command will not allow that to happen and if it happens we know how to counter them.”
in spite of that, an ally of Governor Nyesom Wike and a Ex-Caretaker Committee Chairman of Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local government area, Oosi Olisah who founded Local vigilante group, OSPAC, said it is wrong for anyone to conclude that the Rivers state government failed to consolidate on the gains of Operation Sting.
Olisah therefore, advised members of the public to support the Rivers State government, adding that security is everyone’s business.
Amnesty International in its report stated that cult clashes have led to the displacement of many people especially those who have lost their homes and means of livelihood.
Amnesty International particularly mentioned Emohua, Khana and Gokana as the worst hit local government areas, stressing that the failure of the Rivers state government to investigate, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the clashes has emboldened the cult members.
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