The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has called on members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra to stop the attacking Nigerians from other parts of the country in the state.
Wike maintained that the state belonged to all and would not tolerate a situation where IPOB members would attack citizens from other parts of Nigeria.
Speaking during a state-wide broadcast on Friday, the governor explained that Rivers believe in the corporate existence of Nigeria.
He said, “The Rivers State Government is seriously concerned with the recent activities of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), particularly the attack on Nigerian citizens living in Rivers State.
“Rivers people fully subscribe to Nigeria’s corporate existence and its indivisibility. As a people, we shall continue to support the unity and peaceful co-existence of all ethnic nationalities and work towards actualizing our collective aspirations for a just, inclusive and progressive nation.
“Rivers State belongs to all those who live in it. We heartily welcome any Nigerian who wishes to reside here and go about his or her lawful businesses.
“Therefore, we shall not tolerate any attack by any group on other Nigerians living in Oyigbo or any other part of the state. We warn troublemakers, who are bent on causing violence on others to steer clear of Rivers territory.
“Nobody should take our hospitality and peaceful disposition for weakness as we are capable of dealing decisively with any situation that threatens peace and serenity in the state. We call on Rivers people to be vigilant and not to allow themselves to be used by anybody to foment trouble in our State.”
Wike, however, urged residents of the state not hesitate to report any suspicious character or movement within their vicinity to security agencies, promising that every situation would be dealt with.
He appealed to security agents to exercise restraint and conform with the rules of engagement while responding to provocative acts.
“In as much as we may share common concerns about the structural problems of the country, we believe that dialogue and non-violence remain the best ways to resolve contending political issues.
“We therefore pray the Federal Government to initiate meaningful national dialogue to peacefully resolve the structural challenges that are threatening Nigeria’s stability and progress.
“In the same vein, we urge the security agencies to exercise maximum restraint and obey international rules of engagement and best practice while responding to provocative acts from ill-advised groups,” the governor stressed.
Wike further claimed that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad was always planting hard drugs on innocent citizens with the aim of incriminating them and added that for several months, the state government had been receiving reports from traumatised victims robbed of their valuables by SARS operatives under the guise of conducting searches.
“They employ several malevolent methods, including planting illicit drugs on their unsuspecting victims as bargaining chip or forcefully taking them to ATM boots to collect specified amount of money as ransom for their freedom.
“Furthermore, while the noticeable increase of kidnapping incidents along the East-West Road and the Owerri-Port Harcourt Road are worrisome, some of the rescued victims have reportedly pointed SARS operatives as the ones that are responsible for most of kidnappings along those roads.
“Although the veracity of these allegations can only be fully established through an independent probe, the recent killing of a SARS operative while carrying out a kidnap operation by the Inspector General of Police’s Special Squad clearly lends credence to SARS direct involvement in criminal activities across the state.”
The governor expressed his administration’s commitment to work together with security agencies, including the police with a view to guaranteeing the safety of lives and property across the state despite the deliberate obstacles from SARS operatives.