Security is said to be everybody’s business, and therefore requires a collaborative effort. This is because a neighbourhood is not secured when a location within it is attacked. Akin to this claim is that insecurity has assumed a global phenomenon, manifesting in different forms in different locations such armed banditry, kidnap and abduction, rape, robbery, among others.
It is on this note that the whistle- blowers policy of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu aimed at rewarding persons who volunteered useful information to security agencies to enable them crack down kidnapping activities in the state should be highly- commended. In fact, there is no other proactive means in combating this vice, which poses a threat to the peace and order in the state, other than this.
The governor in a press briefing recently in Umuahia promised N1m reward for any useful information that will aid in the arrest or crack down of kidnappers in the state. He also extended the gesture to security agents who successfully crack down kidnap gangs in the state to the same tune of N1million. Other ancillary efforts to this are the setting up of information desk at Government House to ensure that the identity of informers would be protected; the re-launch of “Operation Jubilee” which will record a fresh boost with the introduction of additional 300 sophisticatedly- armed police personnel.
Gov. Ikpeazu’s has not spared any efforts to rid Abia of kidnapping. A kidnappers den located at Nkporo community of Ohafia local government area was demolished on his instruction. The building is said to have been used by some kidnappers to keep their victims until ransom is paid. Also, few days after the introduction of the whistle-blowers policy, five buildings located in Asa Umunka and Mkpukpuevula communities were demolished on the ground that kidnap victims were kept there until ransoms were paid.
The governor, who vowed that the full weight of the law would be visited on anybody involved in kidnapping in the state and warned landlords to ensure that they protect their buildings and premises from being used as hideouts by kidnappers, did not conceal his resolve to make sure that kidnapping and other violent crimes would be a thing of the past in the state thus “This is to sound a note of warning to those who are involved in the kidnapping business within the confines of the state. I salute the gallantry of men and officers of the security agencies. There is a total war on kidnapping and other violent crimes. Anybody caught will face the full weight of the law. Nobody should allow his property or his premises to be used for kidnapping. Abia citizens are urged to come forth with information about kidnappers to the security agencies. Those who have pieces of information can also drop them to me through text messages. I assure them of confidentiality”.
It will be recalled that last year, in a bid to check the menace of herdsmen activities in the state, the government recruitment of more hands into the State Vigilante Services for onward deployment to the communities for community policing under the supervision of the Commissioner of Police. The law enforcement agencies were also mandated to search and screen all vehicles conveying livestock, food items and persons into the state from any part of the country. The law enforcement agencies were to extend these duties to markets and farm settlements where dealers are to ensure security.
Another worthy approach explored by the government was the constitution of the Farmers/Herdsmen Conflict Resolution Committee. The committee which is headed by the Commissioner of Police in the state is made up of other heads of military and paramilitary formations in the state, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Myetti Allah and the Sarkin Hausa, among others. The 10-man committee was to take measures that would forestall pastoral conflicts in the state by accessing information, identifying flash points and nipping crisis in the bud.
Gov. Ikpeazu by the above efforts has demonstrated that the primary function of the state is to protect its citizens as guaranteed by some constitutional provisions that both the right to life “Every person has the right to life, and that a person shall not be deprived of life intentionally, except to the extent authorized by the Constitution or other written law”.
What is strongly required here is collaboration from other segments of the Abia public- the residents, security agencies, and the media. Abia residents should deploy to its full use, the opportunity provided by the whistle-blowers policy by not hesitating in providing useful information that would lead to the arrest of kidnap suspects or crack down on kidnap gangs. There is an appeal here that such information volunteered should bother on nothing but the truth.
In the same vein, security agencies should ensure that such information provided should be properly vetted to avoid the victimization of innocent citizens. The attraction should revolve around the financial reward for both the citizens volunteering information and the security agencies but should be fired by the zeal to rid Abia of criminals.
On the part of the media, reportage should be based on fact and nothing else because truth is the hallmark of journalism. Sensational banner headlines aimed at increased readership but jeopardizing the peace and order of the state should be thoroughly especially now Aba, the economic-hub of the state is fast regaining its lost glory and now the beautiful bride of investors.
The task of making Abia crime-free and habitable is a collective effort and we should not spare any effort in this direction!