Fearing abuse and descent to anarchy, one of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders in Rivers State, Dr Dakuku Peterside says he would join people of goodwill to challenge the controversial Neighbourhood Watch Bill signed into law by Governor Nyesom Wike.
Several Rivers people have voiced their opinions against some provisions of the bill that seek members to bear arms, in addition to the governor having the powers to direct the agency to carry out arrest and prosecution of accused persons.
However, Dr Dakuku Peterside says such powers in the hands of Governor Wike will only cause more harm than good, especially in a state where several people are 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.”
Dr Peterside, who is also the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) alerted members of the public that Governor Wike has on numerous occasion, stated that he does not have trust in the law enforcement agencies, hence this may be the reason for creating a private army.
“This is one creation that Rivers people will vehemently reject. Never in the history of the state has any governor sought to do what Wike is trying to do now. Arming his militia is a signpost of danger and only those who are discerning enough will understand the thinking of the governor.
“Who will train the so-called Neighbourhood Watch members? Who selects and profiles them? Who will have the authority to control them? Who supplies the arms and registers them? Who accounts for their activities?
“Rivers people have been through tears, sorrow and pain in the last four years owing to the activities of thugs, kidnappers, cultists and hired assassins. Giving guns to people who have no formal training in arms handling and discharge may signal another round of mayhem,” he stressed.
The former governorship candidate of the APC in Rivers declared that he would join Rivers people to protest against the Neighbourhood Watch Law, in addition to using every legal means possible to challenge its propriety especially as it relates to bearing arms by members and the unjustifiable powers giving to the governor.