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Again, Wike, APC disagree over Neighbourhood watch


Nyesom Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has raised the alarm over an alleged plot by opposition politicians to set up illegal vigilant groups to clash with the State Neighbourhood Watch and ensure that the police ban the new security outfit.

But the All Progressives Congress (APC) has pleaded with the Federal Government to prevail on Governor Wike not to sign the Neighbourhood Safety Corps Bill as passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly on February 15, 2018 into law.

The party said the bill, if signed into law would violates the exclusivity of firearms to the Federal Government.

But the governor told the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone Six, Calabar, Usman Abubakar, during a visit to Government House, Port Harcourt yesterday that the Neighbourhood Watch was strictly a security organisation that would support other security agencies with intelligence to better secure the state.

Wike said the Neighbourhood Watch was similar to a security agency set up in Lagos State to support sister security agencies, declaring that the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch had come to stay and that only a court of competent jurisdiction could stop its operations.

He urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police to work towards the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections, adding that the Police should not be used to arrest opposition members indiscriminately ahead of the polls.

Speaking, Abubakar noted that the Zone Six Police Command was fashioning out ways to reduce cultism, kidnapping and violent crimes in the area.

He appealed to stakeholders to work with the Police to reduce crime ahead of the 2019 general elections and called on all groups o come to a round table to work for peace in the state as the police would not tolerate lawlessness.

APC chairman Davies Ikanya, said it was imperative to stop Governor Wike from signing the bill because it would authorise the Neighbourhood Watch to carry arms, enter, search and arrest people without warrant.

He commended the Inspector of General of Police (IGP) for directing civilians, vigilante groups, neighbourhood watch security groups and hunters to surrender their firearms with the licenses within 21 days, as failure to comply would result in raids and clampdowns, followed by criminal prosecution for illegal possession of firearms.

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