The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that the State Government will amend the State Anti-kidnapping Law to prescribe death sentence for criminals involved in cultism, robbery and kidnapping.
In a state broadcast on Monday on the killing of Johnson Igwedibia alias Don Wanny, Governor Wike stated that the Rivers State Government has zero tolerance for crime and criminality, hence it will continue to take measures to protect lives and property.
He said: “We reiterate our zero tolerance for all forms of criminality and reassure all residents of our determination to be tough with those who choose to violate our criminal laws and undermine peace and security in the State.
“To underscore the seriousness we attach to the fight against violent crime, we shall be amending the Anti kidnapping law to prescribe the maximum sentence for engaging in cultism, robbery and kidnapping”.
Mr. Wike stated that the amnesty programme of the state government which generated peace and was largely successful before it was allegedly compromised by the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who prevailed on the federal government and the security agencies to sabotage it.
He emphasised that APC leaders in Rivers State worked against the Amnesty Programme.
He said: “Our decision to offer amnesty to all repentant cultists, militants and criminals was done in good faith and in the best interest of the State. Regrettably, while the programme was on course, some opposition leaders in our state, especially the former governor, unhappy with the successes recorded, dissuaded some armed militants and cultists from sincerely embracing the amnesty.
“Indeed, they also persuaded the Federal Government not to support the programme and other security measures we had recommended. This is the reason why we must thank the President for doing things differently and with the support of all, a different result has been achieved.
“Even now, instead of showing respect for the dead and genuine sympathies to the bereaved families of this dastardly act, the former Governor prefers to further exploit the unfortunate incident for political ends by making wild, unguarded and inciting statements against the State Government. However, we leave him to the judgment of God and posterity.”
Governor Wike said contrary to Mr. Amaechi’s claims and posturing, the security challenge in Omoku predated the current administration. He said Rivers State was never peaceful when Amaechi held sway as Governor, noting that the same Don Wanny tragically killed 32 persons in Omoku on the 14th of December 2014 under Amaechi, who failed to bring Don Wanny to justice.
Governor Wike said: “For years the security situation in Omoku in particular, and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government area in general, has been most challenging because of the criminal activities of Don Wanny and his gang.
”We therefore wholeheartedly thank President Muhammadu Buhari for rising to the occasion and not politicking with the issue of security. We also commend the security agencies, particularly, the Nigerian Army and the Department of State Security, for swiftly rising to the challenge in the most professional manner.
“There is no doubt that this heroic success has proven what is possible when our security agencies are willing to discharge their constitutional duties with unadulterated commitment and professionalism.”
The governor stated that the position of the state government on the amnesty offer was clear as those who genuinely embraced the offer are bound to fully, completely and perpetually renounce all forms of criminality to enjoy terms of the amnesty or face the full weight of the law when they deviated from the programme.
He said: “Consequently, based on reliable information by the security agencies, I hereby direct them to immediately arrest and prosecute the under-mentioned persons who have either reneged on the terms of the amnesty and or refused to embrace same by continuing with cultism, kidnapping, and armed robbery in the State.”
The governor listed 32 cultists from 12 local government areas to be arrested and prosecuted by the security agencies.
While reassuring the security agencies of the support of the Rivers State Government as they discharge their responsibility of maintaining law and order.
“The Rivers State Government will pay N20 million to any person who volunteers useful information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of any of the afore-mentioned persons.
“Since 2015, we have been calling for tackling security issues devoid of political considerations in Rivers State in order to achieve maximum result. This level of commitment and professionalism as demonstrated in the Omoku case is exemplary. Therefore, we will continue to demand no less from our security agencies to keep our State safe and secure for residents, visitors and investors.
“As a government, we have invested heavily on the security of the State and will continue to do everything within our powers to guarantee the security and safety of lives and property throughout the State. As a fact, we will spare no cost in ensuring that nobody will have peace if the lives and property of our people make no meaning to them”, the governor said.
While recalling his visit to the families of the victims of the ugly Omoku Violence on January 1, 2018 where he pledged a N200million bounty for information on the perpetrators , Governor Wike said the death of Don Wanny and his murderous gang is a welcome development.
He said: “Although we would have wanted Mr. Don Wanny and his gang members to have been arrested alive and put to trial for their numerous crimes and atrocities against his own people. His death, nevertheless, is a huge relief to the entire State, and therefore, most welcome development.”