Kidnappers, cultists now face death sentence in Rivers

Nyesom Wike

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has warned kidnappers and cultists to leave the state or risk death sentence.

The warning is coming on the heels of the amendment of the State Anti-kidnapping Law prescribing death sentence for criminals involved in cultism, robbery and kidnapping.

The governor said this on Tuesday in Port Harcourt in a statewide broadcast on the killing of Johnson Igwedibia, alias Don Wanny, a notorious cult kingpin who had been terrorising innocent citizens in Rivers.

He warned that the State Government has zero tolerance for crime and criminal activities, adding that his administration will continue to adopt measures to protect lives and property in the state.

“We reiterate our zero tolerance for all forms of criminality and reassure all residents of our determination to be tough on those who choose to violate our criminal laws and undermine peace and security in the state,’’ he added.

“To underscore the seriousness we attach to the fight against violent crime, we shall be amending the Anti-kidnapping law to prescribe the maximum sentence for engaging in cultism, robbery and kidnapping,” Wike stressed.

He lamented that the amnesty programme of the state government which enthroned peace and was largely successful had been compromised.

“Our decision to offer amnesty to all repentant cultists, militants and criminals was done in good faith and in the best interest of the state,” he said.

“Regrettably, while the programme was on course, some opposition leaders in our state, unhappy with the successes recorded, dissuaded some armed militants and cultists from sincerely embracing the amnesty,’’ said the governor.

“This is the reason why we must thank the President for doing things differently and with the support of all, a different result has been achieved,’’ he stressed.

According to him, the security challenges in Omoku started before the current administration took over office.

“For years the security situation in Omoku in particular, and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area in general, have been most challenging because of the criminal activities of Don Wanny and his gang,’’ he said.

“We therefore wholeheartedly thank President Muhammadu Buhari for rising to the occasion and not politicking with the issue of security,’’ the governor said.

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“We also commend the security agencies, particularly, the Nigerian Army and the Department of State Security, for swiftly rising to the challenge in the most professional manner,’’ Wike said.

“There is no doubt that this heroic success has proven what is possible when our security agencies are willing to discharge their constitutional duties with unadulterated commitment and professionalism,” he stressed.

He said that the decision of the state government on the amnesty offer was clear, adding that “those who genuinely embraced it were bound to fully, completely and perpetually renounce all forms of criminality to enjoy the terms of the amnesty or face the full weight of the law when they deviated from the programme’’.

“Consequently, based on reliable information by the security agencies, I hereby direct them to immediately arrest and prosecute the under-mentioned persons who have either reneged on the terms of the amnesty and or refused to embrace same by continuing with cultism, kidnapping and armed robbery in the state,” the governor said.

Wike listed 32 cultists from 12 local government areas in the state for arrest and prosecution by the security agencies.

He reiterated the determination of his administration to support the security agencies in the performance of their duties in maintaining law and order in the state.

“The Rivers State Government will pay N20 million to any person who volunteers useful information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of any of the afore-mentioned persons, since 2015, we have been calling for tackling security issues devoid of political considerations in Rivers State in order to achieve maximum result,’’ he added.

“This level of commitment and professionalism as demonstrated in the Omoku case is exemplary, therefore, we will continue to demand no less from our security agencies to keep our State safe and secure for residents, visitors and investors,’’ the governor noted.

“As a government, we have invested heavily in the security of the state and will continue to do everything within our powers to guarantee the security and safety of lives and property throughout the state,’’ he stressed.

“As a fact, we will spare no cost in ensuring that nobody will have peace if the lives and property of our people make no meaning to them,” he further warned.

During his visit to the families of the victims of Omoku violence on Jan. 1, the governor pledged a N200 million bounty for information on the perpetrators.

He stressed that the death of Don Wanny and his murderous gang was a welcome development.

“Although we would have wanted Mr Don Wanny and his gang members to have been arrested alive and put to trial for their numerous crimes and atrocities against his own people, his death, nevertheless, is a huge relief to the entire state and therefore most welcome development,” Governor Wike added.