Posted by News Express | 7 January 2018 | 1,515 times
Reasons have been given why Bayelsa State residents in 2017 celebrated a crime-free Yuletide for the first time in many years.
Chief Boma Spero-Jack, Special Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson, confirmed that residents of the state and its environs had been jubilating over this development.
According to the former Director of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), who spoke with the media on Saturday, “Yenagoa, the state capital, as well as the surrounding towns and creeks were conspicuously missing from the unenviable list of cities and centres hit by violent crimes during the last Christmas and New Year celebrations.
“A few years ago, this would have been unimaginable! Security sources in the state agree that this is the result of a well-planned, well-marshalled and coordinated approach by all security agencies in the state backed by the Governor’s strong political will.
“Shortly before the celebrations, the state Police Command, Joint Task Force, the Army, Navy, Air Force, DSS, Civil Defence and the State’s Special Security Task Force tagged OPERATION DOO AKPO, reached a consensus to work round-the-clock to nip all criminal activities in the bud as they have jointly done every year since commencement of the Henry Seriake Dickson administration.”
“Before His Excellency, Hon. Seriake Dickson came on board,” Spero-Jack explained, “there was a culture of violence during which people committed crime with impunity and the youths openly celebrated criminals. Proceeds of crime were a major attraction to the youths. This situation was compounded by acute shortage of schools, hospitals and there was virtually no night life in Yenagoa.
“The government made it clear it would not tolerate crime and any form of criminality.”
Speaking further, Spero-Jacksaid "to combat the rampant spate of criminal activities, the government undertook wide consultations and meeting with youths, civil servants, market men and women, communities and security agencies and eventually came up with an extensive security architecture which incorporates a philosophical dimension of the role of the youths and collaboration between all security agencies and citizens.
“The meetings with the citizens were to build confidence in them to repose trust in the government by sharing information with the security agencies. In Bayelsa today, once a citizen puts a call through to the call centre to report a crime or request assistance for accident victims, the sick or any form of emergency, the security agencies are usually able to respond to such calls within five minutes.”
He explained that the state government’s philosophy was centred on a positive and proactive engagement of the youths as a strategy to making crime unattractive to them and keeping them educationally, socially and economically engaged. “The government decided to take the youths out of the creek,” Spero-Jack continued. “His Excellency, Hon. Dickson built the Ijaw National Academy and encouraged youths to attend with guarantee of full scholarship covering tuition, feeding, accommodation and free registration for (West African Examinations Council) WAEC and other public examinations. With this arrangement, the government can isolate these youths from negative influences and keep them under positive re-orientation for close to eight months every year. This is engineered to give them a new culture.”
Spero-Jack said that a second critical success factor for the government’s success in the area of security is the provision of security assets, including mobile platforms, a command and control centre, various technology driven tools and routine resources to operate and maintain all the assets. In 2012, the Government made huge investments in security vehicles and equipment needed to support the Police and other security agencies in the fight against crime.
The management of Spear and Shield Security Consultancy, a security outfit working with the state government in designing and operating the back end systems, procedures and processes, confirmed that the security vehicles procured in 2012 were replaced shortly before the Christmas celebrations. Spero-Jack added that the government had made further investments in procuring security cameras and other technological equipment for tracking criminals.“With the aid of satellite-based technologies and an extensive intelligence network, we have been able to rescue kidnapped victims within the state and in faraway locations like Port Harcourt and Kano,” he said.
Residents of the state corroborated the statement of the Special adviser. Janet Owei said she relocated to Yenagoa sometime in the third quarter of 2017 after living in Lagos for decades.
According to her, the last Christmas was the first she would spend in the capital in a long while. “I have noticed a lot of changes since I arrived," she said. "I spent the Yuletide with family and friends in Tombia and I saw people moving around even at 2am. Even in Amarata and Kpansia where nobody would have dared to move freely in the night some years ago, there was generally a peaceful atmosphere. Security personnel patrolled the areas regularly. Beside the fact that many people didn’t have enough money to celebrate, there was no threat to our peace or movement.”
Attempting to provide a reason for this, Janet explained that “most of the youths who were involved in militant activities and crime are now off the streets; some are enjoying the Amnesty programme, while many others have been engaged in the government’s scholarship scheme and other training programme.”
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