Rivers State government will not tolerate any attack on other Nigerians living in the state by members of the Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra, IPOB, or any other group, Governor Nyesom Wike has declared.
He made the declaration on Friday in a broadcast following inter-ethnic disturbances in parts of the state on Tuesday.
Mr. Wike said, “Rivers people fully subscribe to Nigeria’s corporate existence and its indivisibility.
He said the state belongs to all those who live in it and that it heartily welcomes any Nigerian who resides in the state to carry out lawful business.
Governor Wike however accused Rivers State Special Anti-robbery Squad, SARS, of direct criminal activities and deliberate sabotage of the state’s security architecture.
“The Rivers State Government is seriously concerned with the recent activities of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), particularly the attack on Nigerian citizens living in Rivers State.
“Rivers people fully subscribe to Nigeria’s corporate existence and its indivisibility.
“As a people, we shall continue to support the unity and peaceful co-existence of all ethnic nationalities and work towards actualizing our collective aspirations for a just, inclusive and progressive nation.
“Rivers State belongs to all those who live in it. We heartily welcome any Nigerian who wishes to reside here and go about with his or her lawful businesses.
“Therefore, we shall not tolerate any attack by any group on other Nigerians living in Oyigbo or any other part of the state.
“We warn troublemakers and those bent on causing violence on others to steer clear of Rivers territory.
“Nobody should take our hospitality and peaceful disposition for weakness, as we are capable of dealing decisively with any situation that threatens peace and serenity in the state.
“We call on Rivers people to be vigilant and not allow themselves to be used by anybody to foment trouble in our state.
“Do not hesitate to report any suspicious character or movements around your vicinity to law enforcement agencies for immediate action.
“In as much as we may share common concerns about the structural problems of the country, we believe that dialogue, not violence, remains the best way to resolve contending political issues.
“We therefore pray the federal government to initiate meaningful national dialogue to peacefully resolve the structural challenges that are threatening Nigeria’s stability and progress.
“In the same vein, we urge security agencies to exercise maximum restraint and conform to international rules of engagement and best practice while responding to provocative acts from ill-advised groups.”
On alleged criminal activities of Rivers SARS, Governor Wike said the state government had for several months been receiving reports from traumatised victims who had been robbed of their valuables by SARS operatives under the guise of conducting searches.
According to Mr. Wike, “They employ several malevolent methods, including planting illicit drugs on their unsuspecting victims as bargaining chip or forcefully taking them to ATM boots to collect specified amount of money as ransom for their freedom.
“Furthermore, while the noticeable increase of kidnapping incidents along the East – West road and the Owerri – Port Harcourt road are worrisome, some of the rescued victims have reportedly pointed SARS operatives as the ones that are responsible for most of kidnappings along those roads.
“Although the veracity of these allegations can only be fully established through an independent probe, the recent killing of a SARS operative while carrying out a kidnap operation by the Inspector General of Police’s Special Squad clearly lends credence to SARS direct involvement in criminal activities across the State.”
The governor reassured Rivers people of the commitment of his administration to work together with security agencies and the police to guarantee the safety and security of lives and property across the state, despite the alleged deliberate obstacles from SARS.
He called on members of the general public to be vigilant and always be ready to protect themselves from the criminal machinations of SARS Rivers State.