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IN RIVERS,COMMUNITIES PAY PROTECTION FEES

17:19 Jan 31 2016 Rivers state, Nigeria

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Security situation in Ahoada East and Ahoada West Local Government Areas of Rivers State has become so bad that communities there now pay Protection Fees, a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari stated.
A Rivers State-based community organization, the Epkeye Patriotic Front on January 20, 2016, petitioned President Buhari concerning criminality in its area saying, “Many communities and individuals are now paying protection fees to hoodlums as they have lost faith in the Nigeria police.”


But when contacted, the Rivers State Police Command said that it was not aware that residents of Ahoada East and West Local Government Areas pay protection fees to some groups for their safety. The state police command’s Public Relations Officer, Almad Muhammad described the statement as false, insisting that the command has not received complaints on the matter.
He stressed that the command has capacity to handle such a matter if it is reported.
“Police cannot be everywhere. We act on issues based on information at our disposal. I am not aware that people pay protection fees to any group. We are not aware of that and nobody has reported such to us. If we have such information, we will act immediately. Some of these things you hear are blown out of proportion by certain persons to achieve whatever purpose they want to achieve. What they are alleging is not the true reflection of the situation on ground,” he said.
Epkeye Patriotic Front, which is based in Ahoada East Local Government Area, held in its petition that there are heightened cases of assassination, kidnapping, cultism and armed robbery in Ahoada.
The petition signed by Udhuluma Okpara and Amanukpo Onyejuwa, president and secretary of Epkeye Patriotic Front respectively said, “There is unprecedented upsurge in crime within Ahoada East and Ahoada West Local Government Areas and environs in the form of assassinations, kidnapping, armed robbery, rape, cultism etc.”
According to the petitioners, the Divisional Police Division and Area Command have been incapacitated and so cannot arrest the suspected hoodlums.
The petition made available to journalists accused some policemen of complicity in the crimes, claiming that suspects are surreptitiously released from the cell even when arrested.
“The hoodlums openly carry AK-47 riffles on the streets of Ahoada without hindrance from the police,” the petition said.
According to the petition, the vigilante group that was set up by communities to assist the police are being blackmailed and hounded by the police.
The petition appealed to the president to overhaul the Ahoada Police Command and change its personnel because “some of them have been there for over 10 years”.
“We hereby appeal to the president to save our souls and direct the Department of State Security Services and the IG of Police to investigate the kidnappings and killings and arrest the perpetrators and their sponsors…” the petition read.
Also speaking on security situation in his area, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Chibudom Nwuche appealed to President Buhari to tackle what he called the high rate of criminality in Rivers State, saying scores are killed with careless abandon.
Speaking in Abuja, Nwuche said, “War against corruption should focus on subduing insurgence. It should also focus on the emerging threat to security in the Niger Delta in form of kidnapping, assassination, armed robbery, rape and extortion.
“As we speak, Rivers State is almost on the edge. In Ekpeye, where I come from, two nights ago, hoodlums on motorbikes went to a community called Olupkata and killed ten people. I have the pictures. They killed them in cold blood -- all lying in their beds at night. In the past three months, they have killed over 34 persons, kidnapped over 40 from the same area”, he said.
Uwuche added: “In Omor, they killed over 150 during election campaigns. These criminals are known to everybody including the police but they have not been arrested up till now”.
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