Anyone arrested in possession of firearms will be treated as a terrorist, so declared the Bayelsa police command which has begun mop up operation in the state.
In a bid to enforce the law on unlawful possession of firearms and proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the Bayelsa State Police Command will embark on a mop up exercise.
The Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mike Okoli, has set up a special squad to carry out the exercise and has also solicited the collaboration of vigilant groups to curb crime in the state.
A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, Asinim Butswat in Yenagoa on Friday said the measure is consequent upon the directive of the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu to state police commissioners.
The directive is to initiate appropriate actions to identify, isolate, disarm, arrest and prosecute any individual(s) or group(s) in possession of illegal firearms, he said.
According to the statement, the special squad headed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police Operations, is saddled with the responsibility of mopping up illegal firearms in the state among other firearms related infractions.
Butswat stated that henceforth anymore found in possession of illegal arms would be arrested and prosecuted as a terrorist, armed robber, kidnapper or cultist.
The statement read in part: “The Bayelsa State Police Command therefore, will henceforth treat and prosecute persons arrested for unlawful possession of firearms as terrorists, armed robbers, kidnappers and cultists.”
Butswat disclosed that the development is the outcome of a meeting the Police Commissioner, Okoli had with vigilante groups on Wednesday where he enjoined them to continue to support the police in fighting crime in the state.
The state Police Command called on all peace loving Bayelsans to cooperate and assist in the enforcement of the order as it is aimed at ensuring safety of lives and property in the state.
Some citizens who spoke on the matter however wondered how the police intended to disarm hardened militants and cultists who do not discard their arms while ordinary people did. It is their view that the exercise usually ends up disarming the innocent and empowering the bad people.