From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State government waded into the communal crisis between Akenfa and Yenegwe communities in Yenagoa Local Government Area over land ownership claims with an immediate order of ceasefire.
The state government also ordered chiefs and people of the two communities to refrain from actions and utterances that would escalate the face-off between both communities.
To this end, the leaders of the two communities have been made to sign a peace undertaking under the close supervision and watch of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Biriyai Dambo (SAN), and the Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State Command, CP Ben Nebolisa Okolo.
Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo read the riot act over the weekend during a meeting at Government House, Yenagoa with the paramount rulers, and other critical stakeholders of the two communities.
According to Ewhrudjakpo insecurity in any part of the state was a threat to peace in every other part and the government’s first responsibility remains maintenance of security of lives and property.
He noted that the paramount duty of traditional rulers in their domains was to ensure peaceful coexistence prevails, adding that they should not be seen to be fanning the embers of intra or inter-communal violence under any guise.
The deputy governor, who expressed worry that very little value is being placed on human life nowadays, ordered the communities to cease forthwith from any action that would constitute breach of peace and breakdown of law and order.
Ewhrudjakpo reiterated that the government directive is to forestall escalation of the conflict, especially as the land in question is the subject of a suit filed by Agudama-Epie Community at the Court of Appeal, claiming ownership of the disputed area.
He insisted that all the three communities laying claims to the disputed land must desist from taking any action until the full determination of the subsisting appeal at the appellate court.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo disclosed that government would take over ownership of the area pending final court judgements on the matter.
He, therefore, directed the Commissioner of Police, Mr Ben Okolo, and Commander of the 16th Brigade of Nigerian Army to deploy security personnel in the area to forestall further attacks.
The Deputy Governor also warned community leaders who are in the habit of parading themselves as kings without government certification and recognition to desist forthwith or face the full wrath of the law.
“The law is not to aid crime but to protect law abiding people. Nobody can just wake up and declare a kingdom or community for himself. We won’t tolerate that.
“We are not in a banana republic, nor are we in a state of chaos and anarchy that people will just wake up and do things the way they like. Henceforth, anybody that tries that will be punished according to the law,” he said
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