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Neighbourhood Safety Corps Group accuses Wike of ‘arming cultists’ in Rivers

The group threatened to set up its own “neighbourhood watch if Governor Wike is not stopped”.

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Cows, more valuable than lives of Nigerians under Buhari – Wike play

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike

(Facebook/Gov Nyesom Ezenwo Wike - CON)

A group, Free Rivers Development Initiative, has accused Governor Nyesome Wike of arming cultists in Rivers state under the Neighbourhood Safety Corps.

Governor Wike on Thursday, March 15, 2018, signed into law a bill seeking to establish the Rivers State Neigbourhood Safety Corps.

The Corps, the group alleged, is a “state police in disguise” which contravenes section 214 of the constitution that established the Nigeria police.

Addressing journalists in Abuja at the weekend, President of the group Ngerebala Sampson said there are about 200,000 cults and militia and armed groups in the state.

Ngerebala noted that arming the youths under the guards of vigilante group was an attempt to create a private militia for political purpose.

The group urged the inspector general of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and other security agencies to stop Governor Wike from inaugurating the corps “as members are expected to bear light arms and small weapons.”

The group also threatened to set up its own “neighbourhood Safety Corps watch if Governor Wike is not stopped”.

His words: "You all know that before, during and after the 2015 general elections, Rivers State experience unprecedented number of political assassinations, were members of our party were gruesomely murdered in cold blood; their offence being that they were members of All Progressives Congress (APC). 

"Those killings continued until recently, when the Federal Forces killed some of the death merchants of Governor Wike. The rate of violence and killings that occurred in Rivers state during the period under review, led to Rivers State being described as a theater of war."

"We are calling on the Inspector General of Police and other Security Agencies to take steps and stop the River State Governor from inaugurating the Rivers State Safety Corps. 

"Whereby our call is not heeded to, our reaction will be to also set up our own Neighbourhood Safety Corps to watch Wike’s neighbourhood Safety Corps. We shall cloth them with uniforms and apply for arms for them through the police, then the 2 Neigbourhood Safety Corps will police each other.

“We cannot allow what happened before, during and after the 2015 general elections in Rivers state to repeat itself in 2019," Sampson declared.

A member of the group, Chidi Lloyd wondered why Governor Wike would “establish and arm youths” in an election year “after declaring that Rivers is the most peaceful state in Nigeria.”

“Wike has held all manner of conferences in Port-Harcourt to show the world that Rivers state is peaceful. So why is he establishing and arming cultists and disgruntled PDP members in the state to maintain peace in the state?” Lloyd asked.

“Wike’s neighborhood watch is nothing but a ballot snatching tool and attack dogs for the 2019 election because right now, the state security agencies are not on his side,” he added.

The group says it has written to the office of the National Security Adviser and all security agencies informing of the impending danger of establishing such body.

Yahaya Bello’s “state police” in Kogi

Similarly, Senator Dino Melaye had accused Governor Yahaya Bello of establishing a state police in Kogi.

Like the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, the Kogi group would also bear weapons.

Supporting the motion, Senator Godswill Akpabio noted that while it is easy to arm groups, retrieving the arms later would be mission impossible.

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