By Alfred Agudiebube

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has charged the state police command and community leaders to collaborate and form neighbourhood watch to rid the rural areas of crimes.

Ikpeazu, who spoke during a Town Hall meeting between the Abia State Police Command and traditional rulers of various communities, captains of industry, religious leaders and other organisations in Aba, said community policing was the key to solve the current security situation.

He urged the police to concentrate on the borders, stressing that the numerous borders Abia shared with neighbouring states must be checkmated to know the inflow and outflow of criminals in the state.

The governor, who was represented by Captain Awah Udonsi (rtd), disclosed that the Ebiere Omuma boundary leading to Rivers State and the Abala boundary in Obingwa leading to Akwa-Ibom State and some other boundaries should be monitored seriously.

He said: “We expect that investors will come into Abia State particularly the Ukwa-Ngwa axis and they need to be protected security wise.

“That involves all of us collectively to get involved. We must support the police to secure this state.

“To you, our traditional rulers, this challenge of neighbourhood watch goes back to you. The geographical location of Ukwa-Ngwa axis of Abia State exposes it to crime. Ukwa-Ngwa is close to Rivers State, Akwa- Ibom State and Imo State; it is not even far from Ebonyi State.

“Something led to this security challenges we are seeing today. It wasn’t here before. Our border locations from the rural areas should be given more attention for protection so that the inflows of criminals who are running away from other states should be checkmated from these locations.”

The governor also said that why the neighbourhood watch must start from the rural areas was that “the kidnappers take their victims to forested areas which may have not been cultivated for so long”.

He advised the traditional rulers to involve their hunters to comb many forests that have not been cultivated, but stressed that such hunters must be known by the police.

According to Ikpeazu, most uncompleted buildings are also used as hibernating centres for kidnappers and charged all communities to monitor movement in their areas, put up crossbars in their villages to prevent movement of vehicles in emergency period.

Speaking, the state Commissioner of Police, Ene Okon, said that the essence of the Town Hall meeting was to discuss the effect of criminals who had suddenly left the urban areas for the rural areas.

Okon called on the traditional rulers to liaise with the Divisional Police Officers in the various police divisions to form credible vigilance groups.

He said: “We don’t mind to see as many vigilance groups as possible, but they must follow due process. We really want partnership with the people of the community and we will encourage communities that are ready.

“But it must go by due process where your traditional rulers and your President General will be aware of all those involved, screen them and then hand them over to the police for proper screening.”



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