The Bayelsa State Government on Monday pledged to deal decisively with individuals or groups involved in criminality in the violence which erupted in Bilabiri, Ekeremor Local Government Area recently.
The pledge was given in a statement by Doubara Atasi, Senior Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.
In a March 19 letter, Bilabiri community sought the intervention of security agencies to flush out criminal elements in its fold.
The crisis degenerated as suspected militants attacked and killed a former local council chairman making residents to flee the area, hence the distress call to the Bayelsa State Government to intervene.
At a meeting with leaders of the community, government decried the killing of Frank Seide of Bilabiri 2 community by criminal elements few days ago and pledged to fish out the perpetrators to face the law.
Atasi stated that at separate meetings with representatives of Bilabiri and Ogboinbiri communities in Southern Ijaw LGA on Sunday, Ewhrudjakpo expressed displeasure at the acrimonious manner with which people jostled for community leadership positions.
He noted that reports of rising insecurity in Ekeremor and in Southern Ijaw due mainly to community elections did not speak well of the two areas.
He said: “The state government is disturbed about the kind of reports we are getting concerning communities in Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas.
“The do-or-die attitude with which they struggle for either CDC chairmanship or chieftaincy positions is really disheartening.
“I’m not saying we don’t have such issues in other areas; the truth is that we have preponderance of it in Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw.
“And I think it should be a thing of concern to every well-meaning stakeholder in these areas.
“They should work hand-in-hand with government to bring this embarrassing situation under control because it does not paint a good image about us in any way.
“On the killing of Frank Seide, we are determined to take the right steps to bring those responsible for this heinous crime to justice. We are a government and we will not allow people to take laws into their hands.
“Whether it is connected to surveillance contract or CDC chairmanship, there are courts to channel your grievances. You don’t take somebody’s life all because his tenure was allegedly (unilaterally) extended by the paramount ruler.
“I don’t think somebody breaching the law is sufficient reason to take his life without a court sentence.”
The Deputy Governor urged stakeholders in the councils to work closely with the state government to bring what he described as an embarrassing and worrisome situation under control.
Ewhrudjakpo also vowed that government would do all within its powers to bring those involved in the dastard killing of Seide to justice to serve as deterrent to other criminals, Atasi stated.
The Deputy Governor called on security agencies to expedite action on the arrest, investigation and prosecution of all those responsible for the heinous crime.
He stressed that illegality could not be used to correct any wrong and noted that the breach of the law by anyone was not a justifiable reason to take his or her life in an extra-judicial manner, Atasi added.
On the Ogboinbiri Community Development Committee chairmanship issue, Ewhrudjakpo advised the two parties to reconcile their differences in the interest and greater good of the community.
He said though the matter was in court, government would do everything within its reach to ensure its amicable settlement for law and order to prevail.
The Deputy Governor challenged Bayelsa youths not to limit themselves to the confines of their respective communities, but to develop themselves intellectually and in entrepreneurial skills to compete favourably with their peers elsewhere.
He also urged them to be law-abiding and assured that government would stop at nothing to create an enabling environment for sustainable prosperity and development in the state, Atasi stated.
Speaking earlier, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Mike Ogbere, and Paramount Ruler of Bilabiri 2 Community, Chief Minna Amotete, both appreciated the state government for showing concern.
They both called for the deployment of security operatives in the communities.
On his part, Chief MacDonald Igbadiwe representing Southern Ijaw Constituency 4 in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, advocated for a legislation to regulate the CDC system, which he noted would go a long way in addressing conflicts in most communities.
The Ibenanaowei of Apoi clan, King Ikpangi Perekebina, and the Vice Chairman of Ogboinbiri Council of Chiefs, Chief Nicodemus Edugo, were among those who made submissions at the meeting.
The Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, Mike Okoli, was represented at the meeting by one of his deputies, DCP Ogundare Dare.