Worried by the rising level of banditry and other forms of insecurity in parts of the country, Bayelsa State Government yesterday charged traditional rulers to set up surveillance teams in their various domains.

Speaking in Yenagoa during a meeting with the traditional rulers from Sagbama Local Government Area, the state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, described the measure as part of efforts to scale up security in the state.

He urged the Royal fathers to choose willing and able members of their communities to be part of the vigilante group, which mandate among others, includes combing the forests and reporting illegal camps to law enforcement agencies.

Senator Ewhrudjakpo stressed the need for Bayelsans to learn from happenings in other parts of the country and cooperate with government by intensifying their efforts at monitoring as well as volunteering useful information to duly constituted authorities.

He directed Local Government Chairmen to hold monthly meetings with traditional rulers, noting it would contribute to peace and stability in rural communities and the state in general..

Responding to a request made by the Ibenanaowei of Tungbo-Ibe, Pere Coleman Agbalalah, the Deputy Governor promised that government would look into the issue of upgrading some chieftaincy stools in the state.

He assured the people of Sagbama that all projects started by the previous administration in the area would be completed in due course of time.

His words, “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.

“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.”

In his remarks, Commissioner for Finance, Mr. 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, Chief 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, King 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, King Frank Okurakpo, the Amananaowei of Ofoni, Chief Onakpohor Auditor, and the Amananaowei of Toru-Orua, Chief Tounaregha Felagha, thanked the 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 to play their roles effectively.

The Attorney General of the state, Mr Biriyai Dambo (SAN), Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. David Alagoa, the Amananaowei of Sagbama Town, Chief Moses Magbisa and his Aduku counterpart, Chief Emmanuel Emberru were among the participants that made presentations at the meeting.


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