Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nysom Ezenwo Wike on Thursday vowed to sign the death warrant of cultists convicted to have killed people during their operation without hesitation or looking back.
Wike spoke after signing three bills into law at the State House, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The bills are the controversial Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Law No.8 of 2018; the Rivers State Secret Cult and Similar Activities (Prohibition) (Amendment) Law No.6 of 2018 and the Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) (Amendment) No.2 Law No.7 of 2018.
Wike said that the laws were necessary to enhance security across the state.
On the Anti-kidnapping and Anti-Cultism Laws, Wike said that stiffer penalties had been approved to discourage those who might want to be involved in the offences.
“If you are a cultist and you are caught, it is life imprisonment. If you are a cultist and you kill during cult activities, you will face the death penalty. If you are convicted of kidnapping and the Supreme Court affirms your conviction, I will sign the death warrant without looking back, ” he said.
The governor said that the State Government would battle cultism and kidnapping to a standstill.
He also said that the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps would support existing security agencies with intelligence and information for them to effectively fight crime and make the state safer.
The governor stated that the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps could not work without the approval of security agencies who would profile all the operatives.
He said anybody who loved Rivers State would not do anything to undermine steps that would enhance the security of lives in the state.
He said: “If your hands are clean, you have nothing to fear about the three laws that I have given assent to. By tomorrow, I will appoint the person that will head the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps.
“All criminals will face the full weight of the law. We will fight crime and ensure that the State is safe for investors “.
He debunked claims by opposition elements that the state government planned to use the Neighbourhood Watch to arm youths, saying that the corps was a replica of what was already in existence in Lagos State.
Senator, Representing Rivers West Senatorial District, Osinakachukwu Ideozu said that the laws assented by the Rivers State Governor would strengthen security operations in the state.
Ideozu described as unfortunate the failed attempt by Senator Magnus Abe to mislead the Senate on the Neighbourhood Watch, saying that it is within the purview of the Rivers State House of Assembly to pass the State Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Law for the security of the state.
In a swift reaction, Dr Dakuku Peterside, former governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has vowed he would join people of goodwill to challenge the controversial Neighbourhood Watch Bill signed into law by Wike.
Peterside said such powers in the hands of Wike would only cause more harm than good, especially in a state where several people were still wailing and mourning following the killings that trailed the 2015 general elections and subsequent re-run elections.
According to him, “Governor Wike has claimed on several occasions that the state is safe, it is therefore surprising that the same governor is now setting up a private militia as an alternative to law enforcement agencies.
“It is obvious to the least discerning person that his contraption is to arm his private militia. This is an attempt to use a legal platform to illegally arm his militia. The fear of everybody in the state is the antecedent of the governor, who has been accused of associating with touts and criminals and it is not surprising that some of them have been given appointments by the same Wike.”