Tam-George: Government is concerned with the situation
Dr. Austin Tam-George is Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication. He spoke with ANN GODWIN in Port Harcourt on what government is doing about the rising killings in the state.
What is the state government doing to stop the killings in Omoku, Abua/Odua, Ubima, Abonnema and Okrika?
Governor Nyesom Wike has given unprecedented financial and logistic support to the Rivers State Police Command and other security agencies in the state. He was the first in this political dispensation to give over 60 security-fitted vehicles to the police within just two months in office and he has continued to fund operations of security agencies in the state.
In addition to funding, the governor has had series of security meetings to galvanise the police, civic groups, youth leaders, traditional chiefs and business leaders into common front in a bid to curb crime and criminality across the state.
But we have experienced too frequent deployment and redeployment of police commissioners and other key security personnel in and out of the state. This has tended to undermine the strong security architecture the governor had worked so hard to build from his first day in office. Each new police commissioner needs time to settle down, and criminals tend to take advantage of any loss of the security momentum. But the governor has never relented in his efforts to secure the state.
Is this administration really concerned about the killings. How can Rivers get back its peace?
Of course, we are extremely concerned about the killing of even a single individual. And the State government continues to fight violent crime vigorously in Rivers Sate. Rivers State is probably the only state in the country where there are standing financial and other incentives for any traditional ruler that helps keep the peace in his domain.
Violent crimes are not limited to Rivers State; we’ve seen audacious daylight armed robberies in the country. There is an active insurgency in the Northeast that has claimed several lives in the past six years. In Rivers State, police investigations have shown again and again that most of these sporadic killings stem from the retributive attacks launched by rival cult gangs battling for supremacy. The arrests of key cult figures have revealed critical intelligence that the police continue to use to infiltrate and degrade these gangs.
The APC has accused the state government of being behind the killings, how do you react to that?
This is just a mindless propaganda peddled by the All Progressives Congress (APC). It’s sickening that a political party would politicize not just crime, but the victims of criminality. As I said, police investigations have shown that much of this violence are gang-related, and have nothing to do with the government.
In fact, it is the APC that has used the military to launch politically motivated raids on communities and the homes of PDP supporters in the state. These invasions have taken place in Ogoni, Okrika, Ogu-Bolo, Etche, Abonnema, Ahoada, Ikwerre, and so forth.
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