When Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson moved for the adoption of death sentence for kidnappers in the state, many concluded that it was due to the fact that recent cases of upsurge in kidnapping in the state has become worrisome and embarrassing.
In less than two months, the state had witnessed over 15 cases of kidnapping of expatriates and Nigerian nationals, including the parents of political office holders in the state. The rate and dimension the kidnap cases have taken may have defiled the tireless efforts of the Dickson-led administration for zero tolerance in criminality in the state.
While many felt the abduction of the over eight expatriate workers of the Hyundai Heavy Industries and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in the Brass area of the state, was a mere quest for ransom due to the yuletide, the recent kidnap of the mother of the Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Benitah Kombowei, the parents of the chairman of Ogbia Local Government Area and the mother of the Leader of the state legislature have thrown many public office holders and residents into a frenzy of fear.
Speaking with newsmen during a tour of some of the structures put in place by the state government to tackle insecurity and reduce crime, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Col. Bernard Kenebai (Rtd) assured that the Dickson‚Äôs security strategy, unbundled through the establishment of¬† a specials state security outfit, code named, Operation Doo-Akpor, had in the last one year arrested over 600 suspects for criminal related offences and handed them over to the appropriate security agencies for further interrogation and prosecution in accordance with the state criminal law.
The recent kidnap of the aged parents of some political appointees has raised some issues that bother on the rise in number of unemployed youths across the state. Those suggesting the involvement of unemployed youths and unengaged trained ex-militants under the Federal Amnesty Programme however pushed for proper engagement as a solution to the problem.
But the state government through a press statement by the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Daniel Markson-Iworiso, submitted that; ‚ÄúFrom the facts at our disposal, it is clear that some failed politicians, especially the arrow heads of those who have lost out in the power equation in the state, are working hard behind the scene with some forces outside the state to sponsor kidnapping of innocent citizens in Bayelsa State.
‚ÄúTheir aim is not only to scare away investors and stall development, but also to make the state ungovernable and to give the impression that the government of the day is incapable of securing the lives and property of citizens. The government of Hon. Henry Dickson has not only given top priority to security, it has also shown enough political will in protecting lives and property in the state.‚Äù
But the Governor Dickson, in a dramatic turn took a bigger step further and declared his readiness to approach the State House of Assembly for a legislation that would prescribe death penalty for kidnappers in the state.
According to the governor, the proposed death penalty will be included in an amendment to the existing anti-cultism law and would now read Anti-Secret Cult, Kidnapping and related vices Bill from the executive.
Governor Dickson, who spoke during the inauguration of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Agbere communal crisis, said he would not hesitate to sign the death warrant of kidnappers or those attempting to commit the crime.
He said; ‚ÄúWe have made it very clear that wherever there is any breach of the peace and breakdown of law and order, this government will use all its resources and authority to ensure that the right thing is done and people are brought to book.‚Äù
The governor threatened that any traditional ruler caught aiding and abetting kidnapping and other related vices would be dealt with in accordance with the law, saying; ‚ÄúThe Bill has become imperative in order to forestall disruption of government‚Äôs developmental projects.‚Äù
He thereby urged youths to take advantage of government‚Äôs policies and programmes geared towards building their capacity, adding; ‚Äúlet me also use this occasion to sound a clear note of warning in this state, we thought we were through with kidnappings in this state‚Ä¶but just one incident of kidnapping is bad enough for us.‚Äù
Dickson further said; ‚ÄúWe have a situation where we have an ambitious programme of infrastructural turn-around of the state because there is work going on in every community of the state and it will be so for quite some time, therefore we do not want to tolerate even one case of kidnapping of anybody.
‚ÄúWe are aware that if this trend is not checked, those who do not wish this state well will easily use that to foment crisis, scare investors, give our state a continuous bad name and stall our development.‚Äù
To Colonel Kenebai, it is the constitutional responsibility government to guarantee a safe and secured environment, as no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of insecurity.
The security adviser stated that the state government was proactive in its approach to security issues, adding; ‚ÄúPrior to the advent of the present administration, the security situation in the state was appalling. There were high incidents of criminal activities in Urban and other metropolitan cities of the state.
‚ÄúOur waterways then were no longer safe as there were reported cases of sea piracy and other related vices. We appreciate the fact that the incidents were not peculiar to Bayelsa State alone but unique in some sense.
‚ÄúThe impact of a state of insecurity is quite obvious. Criminals were taking institutions of government in an open confrontation. There were reported cases of kidnapping, assassinations and the activities of the amnesty agitators were not left out.‚Äù
However, noting the effect of state of insecurity on the economy of the state, the present administration, according to Colonel Kenebai devised a security measure tagged: ‚ÄòBayelsa Integrated Security Measure‚Äô aimed at curtailing criminal activities.
He disclosed that the measure has assisted in reducing the criminal activities in the state to zero level, adding that the people of the state can now sleep with their two eyes closed, adding that with the installation of TETRA Trunk Radio, the security outfit has been able to checkmate the activities of criminals within and outside the state, as there was always a prompt response to distress calls.