By CrossRiverWatch Admin
You are aware that we have great ideas in key signature projects. The intention is that those projects will create a new economy that can sustain our people and give us independence. All of those things in our plan, political and economical, they would amount to nothing if we don’t have the right security in place… Ben Ayade (while inaugurating the Operation Skolombo headed by Brigadier General Mannix Nyiam Rtd – July, 2015)
With a few days left for the administration of governor Ben Ayade to clock a year in office, CrossRiverWatch takes a look at another sector which is the back bone of the economy; Security. Has the Ayade administration sustain this priceless attribute of the state or not?
Over the years, Cross River State has always been referred to as the most peaceful state in Nigeria due to the warmth of its people which according to experts, befits its eco tourism drive but this has not being the case often as pockets of communal wars, conflicts or disputes as may be termed and acts of gangstarism as well as a rising rates in kidnappings and abductions have led many to question this attribute.
Upon assumption into office, governor Ben Ayade had sworn to serve the state in the best way possible and to ensure the protection of lives and properties while constructing an “alternate economy to decouple the state from depending on federal allocations” but after a few months in office, the level of insecurity has continued to be on the increase especially in the capital city of Calabar.
The governor had rebranded the Quick Intervention Squad of the Emergency Response Center, changing its nomenclature to “Operation Skolombo” as a sort of moral booster for the combined team of Police, MOPOL, Army and Navy officers drafted to serve the purpose of ridding the state of criminal elements.
This was preceded by the inauguration of the Operation Skolombo team headed by Gen. Mannix Nyiam consisting of security experts who hail from the state in July 2015; where, as quoted above, he described security as the fulcrum of his administration’s policies.
This was followed by the ‘donation’ of 14 patrol vans over a month later in August to the team with the governor test driving one of the vehicles.
While making the presentation of the vans to the task force Chairman, Gen. Mannix Nyiam, at the Governor’s Office in Calabar, the governor averred that, the gesture was to support the security agencies towards taking policing to the next level.
Ayade regretted the increased rate of activities of the hoodlums popularly referred to as Skolombo Boys, and assured investors and residents in the state of a total clean up in no distant time.
He urged the task force team to do all within their jurisdiction to flush the children off every nook and cranny of the state capital, restore the dignity of the state security-wise, to residents and those willing to do business in the state.
However, about nine months on, the level of insecurity has reached a worrisome level as the Skolombo boys have become bolder, operating at any time in the day with accompanying allegations of abuse of the security outfit, Operation Skolombo, by the State Security Adviser.
Though no notable robbery that warranted a gun battle has been reported, there have being countless robberies, home invasions, kidnappings, child abductions, snatching of cash as well as petty thievery accompanied by un-abating acts of gangstarism and communal wars in the central and northern parts of the state.
The State Security Adviser keeps parading Skolombo boys who are arrested, and handed over to the social welfare ministry who interview them, send them back to their families or states only for them to return a few days later and if unfortunate, get re-arrested again in what has become a circuitous rigmarole.
The situation with gangstars rose slowly across the state culminating in the shooting of the governor’s in-law in Obudu by a rival gang which has led to multiple arrests and re-arrests by Police officers in Obudu while two CRUTECH students and several others have been lost to the unending battle, not to mention the incessant gun duels between rival gangs in Calabar South.
Recently, lone walkers and students attending night classes in the State owned Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH have become easy targets with invaders breaking into homes while owners are away and carting away items.
A source at the Ivory Tower had informed CrossRiverWatch of the invasion into the school compound by hoodlums numbering over 30 who harassed students attending night classes and stripped them of valuable items.
Cases of child abductions are also on the increase in the state capital. A child rights groups, Basic Rights Council raised alarm early in the year that there had over 20 reported cases of child abductions in Calabar alone within the first quarter of the year and called on the state government to step up effort to protect children in the state capital.
Incidences of kidnaping are also on the rise with the latest being the abduction of a staff of the University of Calabar along with two of his family members. The Igbo community in the state in a press conference, also threatened to shut their shops if the state government does not beef up security to stop the kidnapping of the members for ransom. The Chairman of the group said in the past three months, several of their members have been kidnapped and hundreds of millions have been paid as ransom to secure their release.
The resurgence of communal wars between Bette in Obudu and Tivs in Benue, Okpagada/Mbagede and Ukpe communities in Ogoja, Owankande and Obubra Urban, Adadama and Amagu in Abi, Nko and Mkpani, Oyoba village in Wanikade and their Ehetezi neighbours of Wanihem all in Ukele, Yala Local Government Area, Inyima and Onyadama among others are clear indications of the security challenges confronting the state.
While it is commendable that the governor is making efforts to equip the various security outfits in the state to perform their statutory functions, it must also be noted that it is either the support is yet enough to bear the desired results or the agencies are yet to live up to their expected responsibilities.
What do you think? Is Governor Ayade getting it right in security or not? Join the conversation on Twitter @crossriverwatch or drop your comments below or like and comment on our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/crossriverwatch.
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