The Rivers State Police Command has placed an embargo on the activities of youth groups in the state following the resurgence of cult clashes.
The state Commissioner of Police, CP Tunde Ogunsakin in a statement Wednesday, said the police force deemed it necessary to take the step after a “critical review of the recent happenings in the state”.
The statement which was signed by Grace Iringe-Koko, an Assistant Superintendent of Police and spokesperson for the Rivers State Police Command read: “As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in Rivers State, I have a responsibility to ensure that all gatherings for whatever reason, whether politically motivated or otherwise are carried out within the ambits of the law and in a way that the security of the state will not be threatened in any manner”.
“It is also imperative to mention that political rallies remain banned in all parts of the country in compliance with Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act which states as follows: ‘For the purpose of this Electoral Act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day”.
Clashes between rival cult groups have continued to threaten the security of the state with a recent incident – a clash for supremacy – involving two rival cults in Ogoni, resulting in the death of one person.
Last December, at least 12 persons were shot to death as cult groups went berserk in Elelenwo and other areas of the state.
According to Mr. Ogunsakin, henceforth, anyone that plans to hold any gathering must give the police command a five day notice to enable them provide adequate security and protection.
“In the same vein, any gathering of any nature by person(s), youth/pressure groups and associations must apply for police protection so that the Police can put in place adequate security mechanisms to prevent any form of breakdown of law and order.
“This is further meant to ensure that law and order is maintained in Rivers State for the interest of all. It is important to state this can effectively be done when all personal and group interests are not placed above the security of the state and its people”, Mr. Ogunsakin said.
The police boss also said that he had directed all Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers in the state to clamp down on any youth body or groups that hold or organize meetings without the requisite security coverage.
“Such groups or gathering by whatever name so called will be considered to be an unlawful assembly and shall be made to face the full wrath of the law as there will be no hiding place for them”, said Mr. Ogunsakin.