Candidate of the All Progressives Congress’ in the 2015 governorship election in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has laid the blame for the recent spike in violence in the state on the doorstep of the government of Governor Nyesom Wike, accusing it of arming militants and cult gangs, and a lack of commitment to peace and order in the state.
There has been an upsurge of violent clashes between cult gangs, militant groups and armed robbery attacks in the state in recent weeks with the Nigerian Army stepping in to mop up dangerous arms and ammunition from suspected militants.
Though Mr. Dakuku acknowledged that some of the clashes are as a result of the perennial mistrust of government and oil exploration companies by host communities, he however, stated that most of the recent clashes were politically induced and motivated; and blamed it on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state.
In a statement on Sunday, the APC gubernatorial candidate in the state accused the Wike-led administration of arming the cult groups responsible for the violence in the run up to the 2015 election in its quest to violently grab power.
He stated that the groups have now become “Frankenstein monsters” the government can no longer control.
“It is regrettable but true that in many communities in Rivers State today cult gangs hold sway. They control the social and economic souls of the people, including traditional structures which have been rendered impotent”, he said.
“The cult gangs were armed by politicians in the build up to 2015 general elections. Like Frankenstein monsters, they are now too powerful to those who armed them and had enjoyed pyrrhic benefits from their activities.
“The situation has so degenerated that nobody, including those who created the monsters, feels safe anymore. The physical landscape of Rivers State communities is painted with boys armed to the teeth and walking about freely to the discomfort of citizens”.
Mr. Peterside accused the government of showing no commitment to restoring peace and order to the state.
According to him, the government, instead of exploring tactful resolution to the insecurity problem, has adopted an unhelpful confrontational approach to solving the problem.
“We are yet to feel the effect of any concrete action taken by Nyesom Wike-led Rivers State Government to stem this worsening insecurity. A town hall meeting which he held in Omoku on the urging of Rt. Hon. Andrew Uchendu degenerated into a display of power by way of suspending three Local Government Caretaker Committee chairmen and a strange order to security agents to kill suspected cultists”, Mr Dakuku said.
“The aloofness of the state government has actively promoted the view in the public space that it is behind the prevailing insecurity and free reign of criminals in the state. Nothing challenges a government more than to lose the moral right to fight criminality. When a government persistently fails in its primary duty of securing lives and property, and does not show that it is committed to fighting against those who threaten our peace, the despair of the citizenry can best be imagined.
“Today the people of Rivers state are groaning under the unbearable weight of kidnapping, assassinations, armed robbery, political violence, gun running, harassment, and all forms of criminality. The general question is how long are we going to live like this?”
The APC chieftain expressed fears that insecurity in the state may worsen as the March 19 national and state assemblies re-run elections draw close.