Two civil society groups have advocated a new approach to boosting maritime security in Bayelsa waterways.
Worried by the incessant killings of security personnel and civilians on the state’s waterways, the groups, , Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) and the Environmental Right Action (ERA), demanded the establishment of coast guards to police waterways, particularly in areas not adequately policed by security agencies.
No fewer than 10 persons, including seven security personnel, have been killed by suspected pirates on the waterways in Bayelsa over the past month.
The groups in a joint statement on Thursday by the Chairman of CLO, Nengi James, and Coordinator, ERA, Alagoa Morris, condemned the killings.
They urged security agencies in the state to involve community structure and retired military and other security personnel in fashioning strategies to bring about lasting solution.
”There is need to mark out the most vulnerable spots and ensure regular and effective patrolling by well-armed and equipped marine craft fitted with up to date communication gadgets,” the groups said.
”The role of our traditional rulers/institution should be spelt out in the Constitution to enable our traditional rulers to play more effective roles in their domains.
“In addition, the issue of community policing should be seen in practical terms rather than only in concept and a things of the lips.
”The energy of youths, if left unutilised in positive ways, could be directed into negative, harmful use.
“And so, instead of the Bayelsa Volunteers, whose activities are unknown to most members of the public, a more robust and effective vigilance group should be formally established to assist and complement the security agencies.
”It is surprising that the foremost youth body in Ijawland, the Ijaw Youth Council has not been involved in the effort to bring down these ugly incidents in the state.
“As a body of the most formidable youth group in the land, the IYC should work in close relationship with government and security agencies to come up with lasting solution; to ensure the effectiveness of vigilantes in our creeks and communities.
”The scenario whereby well-armed security men are found only in crude oil installations like and when escorting oil workers and vessels and not at strategic locations as they are on our roads should be seen as indicting the security agencies and government in this regard,” the groups said.
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