In a bid to improve the security of communities, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nysom Wike has given his assent to the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch 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 Bills passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Wike said that the laws were necessary to enhance security across the state.
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.
Wike 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 added.
He debunked claims by opposition elements that the state government plans to use the Neighbourhood Watch to arm youth, insisting that the corps was a replica of what was already in existence in Lagos State.
Commenting on the anti-kidnapping and anti-cultism laws, 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.
Also speaking, senator representing Rivers West Senatorial District, Senator Osinakachukwu Ideozu said that the laws assented to by the Rivers State governor will strengthen security operations in the state.
Ideozu described as unfortunate the failed attempt by Senator Magnus Abe to mislead the Senate on the Neighbourhood Watch law, insisting that it was 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.
The senator commended the governor 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, Hon Martins Amaewhule said that the laws provided for stiffer penalties in the interest of the state.
Amaewhule said that the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Bill was passed in line with extant laws and the constitution.
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani said the Rivers State governor has made a difference through service delivery, and thanked him signing the three bills into law.
Meanwhile, a kidnap and sea piracy kingpin, Prosper David, popularly known as Militant General, has been gunned down by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team.
The killing of the kingpin on February 21, 2018 at about 10:45pm was sequel to a follow up on the kidnapping of Tina Bob-Manuel.
IRT operatives, The Tide learnt traced the kidnap kingpin, who was said to have embraced the Federal Government’s Presidential Amnesty Programme but later formed a kidnapping gang, to Bayelsa State where he was fatally injured during gun battle.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had deployed the IRT operatives to Port Harcourt, Rivers State to fight kidnapping and other violent crimes.
The IRT operatives were said to have been on David’s trail for long time after he masterminded the kidnap of Bob-Manuel on November 22, 2017 in her shop located at 107, Nvuigwe Road, Woji, Port Harcourt and several other kidnappings.
He was said to have underground after the collection of ransom in two instalments and when he sensed that the police are closing in on him.
He dropped his contact number known to his personal driver that was earlier arrested by the police and relocated his family from Victory Estate, Azikoro, Yenagoa in December 2017 to the creek all in a bid to avoid arrest.
After about 90 days of painstaking intelligence gathering with technical assistance support from the Technical Intelligence Unit, David was tracked to Asiri area of Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, where he had just rented an apartment.
On sighting the operatives, he ran into his apartment ceiling from where he engaged the operatives but was killed in the process.
Other suspects arrested for the kidnappings are: Johnson Denis, David’s driver, who was arrested with the victims phone; David, who had on him one AK47 riffle, one magazine, 26 rounds of live ammunition, four expended ammunitions and a Nokia phone belonging to his kidnap victim, with which ransom negotiation was done; Benjamin Johnson; and Anthony Joshua, with the last two arrested between February 21 and March 14, 2018.
Sources said serious efforts are in top gear to arrest other gang members and recover more arms.