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STAKEHOLDERS CONDEMN DISSOLUTION OF SECURITY OUTFIT IN BAYELSA

By NBF News
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Dissolution of the Operation Famoutangbei (OFT), a special security outfit established by the Bayelsa State Government, about two years ago, to handle special security matters in the state has drawn condemnation from some stakeholders.

Expressing his views on the dissolution, King Joshua Igbagara, the chairman of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council and a member of the state Security Council described the dissolution as unfortunate. He said the establishment of the outfit had reduced the rate of crimes in the state.

Though the dissolution of the outfit had not been formally announced because the police commissioner refused comments on the issues when contacted, but Igbagara noted if the news of its dissolution was real, it would be a minus for security situation in the state.

'If it is really dissolved, it is a setback in the security apparatus of the state,' he noted. The traditional ruler, who said there might be some complains against OFT by some people, alleged that such complains were made by those who were supporting criminal activities in the state.

King Joshua Igbagara said there was nothing wrong with OFT. He said their alertness to duty was good.

'Call them at any time, they are there. Except otherwise proved, OFT should stay to save lives and property of Bayelsans,' he said.

Speaking in the same vein, Chief Richrad Kpodoh, special adviser to the governor on security matters, who is the caretaker of the outfit since it came on board, expressed shock at the dissolution of the OFT. He said it was politically motivated. Kpodoh expressed dismay that an outfit established by the state Security Council to safe lives and property could be unilaterally dissolved by the inspector general of police.

Describing the inspector general of police's action as ill informed, Kpodoh recalled that when the IG was the commissioner of police in Bayelsa State he supposed to have appreciated the security situation in the state and appreciated what informed the establishment of the OFT 'The news of the dissolution of the OFT by the IG came to me as a shock because it was established by the state security council,' noted Kpodoh.

'Even when he, the IG was the police commissioner here, he knows the security situation here, he supposed to have find out the truth about the situation here before taking this unilateral action,' Kpodoh said, adding that the advent of the OFT in the state had reduced to the barest minimum cases of snatching of bags and cars in the state especially around banks in Yenagoa

The ban on the outfit, he further noted, had political undertone.

He appealed to the IG to allow the outfit to continue to operate in the state. Jonathan Obuebite, representing Nembe I Constituency in the state House of Assembly, said the Inspector General of Police had compromised the security of Bayelsa State. According to him, the introduction of OFT had taken care of 80 per cent of security in the state, pointing out that even if there were excesses by the outfit 'we have an internal mechanism to control their excesses,' he said.

'No Bayelsan has come to complain about OFT excesses to me or to the Assembly. OFT has brought sanity. Before now, people cannot comfortably move about, people were robbed, but now OFT has taken care of all those. 'We are against the dissolution. The IG was not properly informed about the situation here, he should have looked into both sides of the situation before taking the decision, it is against the yearnings of the people, we are pleading that he should reverse the decision,' Obuebite said.

He advised that a stakeholders' meeting be convened to know the feelings of the people on the dissolution.

The lawmaker, who also viewed the dissolution from political perspective, however, noted that, 'I wouldn't want to read political meaning to it, but it's not far from it.'

He noted that the dissolution of the outfit had further rekindled the call for the establishment of state police, arguing that state police would take proper care of internal security in the states as natives would know more about the security situation than people from outside the state.

Also commenting on the issue, Daniel Igali, representing Southern Ijaw Constituency 3 in the state Assembly, said he would move a motion in the House to condemn the dissolution of the OFT.

Igali noted that the state government had spent enormous resources on security because, according to him, security was the bedrock of any society.

Igali also noted that the dissolution had once again given reason for the establishment of state police.

Also commenting on the need to convene a stakeholders meeting on the issue, Ebikibina Miriki, National Youth Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria noted that the state government should convene a stakeholders' meeting irrespective of political inclination or class, religion or ethnicity in the state.

This, according to him, was important to maintain the relatively peaceful atmosphere in the state.