Bayelsa State Government has expressed concern over mass build-up of arms in the state by people with sinister plans, who come into the state under the pretext of carrying out fishing, farming and other businesses.
Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo stated this during a meeting with first class traditional rulers, Chairmen of Local Government Areas and some top security officers in Government House, Yenagoa, at the weekend.
He also said that worrisome intelligence at the state government’s disposal showed increasing espionage activities in most communities of the state, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Doubara Atats, on Sunday.
Ewhrudjakpo therefore stressed the need for people of the state, particularly the traditional rulers and youths to be vigilant as well as strengthen community policing across the state.
He urged traditional rulers and security agencies to complement the government’s effort in implementing the state anti-grazing law to forestall herders-farmers crisis in the state.
Ewhrudjakpo explained that the anti-grazing law was not made to witch-hunt anybody, but rather a proactive measure to avoid banditry and other security challenges facing most states in the country.
He added that the meeting was convened to discuss strategies to enable community leaders monitor the movement and activities of strangers in the various communities in accordance with existing laws.
Ewhrudjakpo said, “I can tell you substantially that most of our communities are undergoing espionage. We have some intelligence, though not yet confirmed, that there is a mass build-up of arms in our various forests, which we are not knowledgeable of.
“I can assure you that some of these people who come into our communities in the name of fishing and farming, know our forests more than us and they just waiting for the time to strike. That’s how it started in the South West and other places in this country.
“It is already here with us. So we should stop playing the ostrich by trying to cover the smoke with a basket. It is better to open up the smoke and deal with it. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to nip the herders/farmers problem in the bud.”
He further said that henceforth there must be a way of profiling any person who is not an indigene that comes into any community with a view to knowing where such a person is from, how long he or she will stay and what the person will be doing during the period of stay.
The meeting also had in attendance the Chairman, state House of Assembly Committee on Security, Colonel Benard Kenebai (retd), Chairman, state Traditional Rulers Council, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Mike Okoli, the State Director, State Security Services and and Divisional Police Officers (DPOs), among others.