Wike says not arming youths, explains functions of the proposed Neighbourhood Watch

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Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State says he was not planning to arm youths of the state as alleged by the opposition over his plan to set up what he calls the Rivers Neighbourhood Watch. The governor rather said the Neighbourhood Watch would support security agencies with intelligence and information to prevent criminality in the state. 

Flagging off the construction of Isiodu Road in Emohua Local Government Area on Saturday, Gov Wike stated that he would sign the Neighbourhood Watch Bill passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly to give effect to the legal existence of the security outfit. 

Governor Wike said contrary to the falsehood being spread by leaders of Rivers APC, the state government is not planning to arm youths to cause mayhem. Chidi Lloyd, a former majority leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had gone on radio to alert the state over the plan to set up what he called a parallel army in the state.

He warned that the Wike security group would be armed and would detain accused persons. The governor had in a previous radio interview said the group would neither carry arms no detain suspects. Lloyd warned that the Bill makes the governor the final commander of the security outfit, and would determine what makes one an offender, thereby making the governor another Commander-in-Chief.

The governor however said the Rivers State Government was being proactive by establishing the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch which would entrench preventive mechanisms that would protect lives and property across the state. 

He said: “Neighbourhood Watch has nothing to do with carrying arms. Their duty is to complement security agencies across the state. Security of lives revolves  around information and intelligence.  Members of the Neighbourhood Watch will gather intelligence and information and pass same to security agencies for the protection of lives and property “.

The governor said that the State Government would not be intimidated by the propaganda and falsehood on the Neighbourhood Watch. He said: “I will sign the Neighbourhood Watch Bill by next week.  All these lies being spread will not stop us. The Neighbourhood Watch is for the good of our people. We have sworn to protect our people”.

The governor said that the youths of the state would be employed as the Neighbourhood Watch takes effect.