End Armed Banditry On East-West Road

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The seeming unending killings, armed robbery, kidnappings and hostage-taking of innocent and vulnerable citizens along the Elele-Rumuekpe-Ndele-Rumuji-Emohua axis of the East-West Road in Rivers State has, once again, raised fresh security concerns over the spate of insecurity along the route. The wave of crimes and criminality in that area has, indeed, brought to the fore the usefulness or otherwise of multiple police checkpoints along the route which has not deterred bandits from terrorising motorists and commuters plying the road.
Only two days ago, the hoodlums attacked a passenger bus and abducted some of its occupants including members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the presence of security personnel who were at various checkpoints along that road.
Early this year, Leader of Ahoada West Local Government Area Legislative Assembly, Hon Ekele Chikobi, and a commercial bus driver were shot dead by unknown gunmen around the Rumuekpe Junction while two 18 –seater buses belonging to two separate commercial transport companies were ambushed and passengers on board taken hostage for days. The second driver luckily escaped, but with life-threatening gunshot injuries.
In August last year, another vehicle from Part Harcourt to Ahoada was attacked and 11 passengers abducted to an unknown destination. These sad incidents are among unreported ones.
Unfortunately, several months after the Rivers State Police Command declared, state of emergency on that road, members of these gangs terrorise people along the East-West Road are yet to be identified, arrested or prosecuted for the heinous crimes.
Also, the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has on several occasions tasked security operatives in the state to up their game by ensuring an end to the horrible security threat witnessed on that axis of the East-West road. While commiserating with the bereaved family of the slain Ahoada West lawmaker, the Governor challenged the security agencies to fish out the hoodlums terrorising motorists and commuters along the East-West Road.
Lamenting the seeming helplessness of security operatives along the route, especially the police, he assured that the State Government has what it takes, and would continue to do the needful by providing necessary logistics to ensure adequate security of lives and property of the citizenry.
As re-assuring as that may be, The Tide has, time and again, stressed the need for community policing to complement the conventional security apparatuses.
From all indications, it appears that our regular security operatives, particularly the police, are overwhelmed by the security challenges facing them.
That is why we whole-heartedly support the concept and establishment of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency to augment and assist the police and other security outfits in providing vital and necessary intelligence report and information that could lead to the apprehension of criminals in our communities.
These criminals live among the local people and only a community-based security or vigilante outfit will be able to fish them out. Most of these criminals strike outside and return to the rural areas as their hideouts. Hence, the inevitability of the safety corps.
Security and society are becoming more dynamic by the day and only through dynamic, innovative means would security operatives be able to effectively deal with the growing spate of insecurity in the society.
The Nigeria Police High Command, the Army, the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security outfits should not shy away from the reality on ground and, therefore, must be supportive of the initiative of the state-owned community-based vigilante network by ensuring that it takes off smoothly and unhindered, as it is obtainable in Lagos, Imo, Anambra and other States which had made tremendous progress in their security architecture.
For now, the police and other security agencies should synergise and provide round-the-clock security along the Elele-Rumuekpe-Ndele-Rumuji-Emohua axis of the East-West Road. The trauma being experienced currently by motorists and commuters along that route is better imagined than experienced.
We call on the police authorities to urgently overhaul the security arrangement along the route as the current multiple checkpoints have not yielded any fruitful results.
We demand that police and security agencies rise to the occasion if they want us to believe in their strength and impartiality.
Security should and must not be politicised.
This is the only way to tame the current banditry on the East-West Road.
Unfortunately, the security scare along that route has continued unabated as nothing seems to have changed. This trend must not be allowed to continued. This trend must not be allowed to continue.