Bayelsa State government has charged traditional rulers to set up surveillance teams in their domains with a view to addressing insecurity due to rising cases of banditry and other forms of insecurity in other parts of the country.
This is as the traditional rulers also identified godfatherism as one of the core issues of insecurity that is caused by rising cases of cultism and urged the government to caution politicians across the state.
The Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo gave the charge on Thursday in Yenagoa during a meeting with traditional rulers from Sagbama Local Government Area saying the measure was part of efforts to scale up security in the state.
Ewhrudjakpo advised them to choose willing and able community members to be part of the vigilante groups with the mandate to comb the forests and report illegal camps to law enforcement agencies in the state.
He stressed the need for Bayelsans to learn from happenings in other parts of the country and cooperate with the government by intensifying efforts at monitoring as well as volunteering useful information to duly constituted authorities.
The Deputy Governor directed local government chairmen to also hold monthly meetings with traditional rulers in their areas in order to contribute towards enthronement of peace and stability in rural communities and the state in general..
Ewhrudjakpo assured that the state government would look into the issue of upgrading some chieftaincy stools and that all projects started by the previous administration in the area would be completed in due time.
“There is already a machinery we have set up for local government council chairmen to meet with first class, second class, third and fourth class traditional rulers in their local government areas every month,” Ewhrudjakpo said.
“But the core message today is that we now have to set up security surveillance in our communities that will be supervised by the paramount rulers. There is nobody who can be more vigilant than the traditional rulers in their domains.
“We believe that they have eagle eyes and if we must have peace in our communities, they must be involved in the process. You have to look around and select capable people into the surveillance teams.
“They have to comb everywhere including our forests to get rid of criminal elements. We must learn from what is happening elsewhere and take all necessary proactive steps to nip it in the bud before it consumes us.
“Success must not be 100%, but effort must be 100%. So all hands must be on deck to ensure that our communities are safe,” he said.
In his remarks, Commissioner for Finance, Maxwell Ebibai, expressed concern over the upsurge in cultism and drug abuse in rural areas and also called for efforts to preserve the izon language, which he noted, is fast sliding into extinction.
On his part, the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Development, Thompson Amule, advised the traditional rulers against involvement in partisan politics and taking sides in community development committee (CDC) and youth elections.
Also speaking, the Ibenanaowei of Oyiakiri Kingdom, Joshua Igbagara lamented the relegation of traditional rulers to the background in the scheme of things and called for a change.
Other traditional rulers including the paramount ruler of Okugbe-Isoko Kingdom, Frank Okurakpo, the Amananaowei of Ofoni, Onakpohor Auditor and the Amananaowei of Toru-Orua, Tounaregha Felagha, thanked government for initiating the meeting and pledged commitment to the fight against criminal activities.
They however identified political godfatherism as a major factor encouraging cultism and called on the government to caution its officials as well as increase the welfare package of traditional rulers to enable them play their roles effectively.
The Attorney General of the state, Biriyai Dambo (SAN), Commissioner for Agriculture, David Alagoa, the Amananaowei of Sagbama Town, Moses Magbisa and his Aduku counterpart, Emmanuel Emberru also spoke at the meeting.