The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Thursday assented to the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law No.8 of 2018.
Mr. Wike also assented to two amended laws which prescribed stiffer penalties for cultism and kidnapping.
He said the new laws, which were passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly, would enhance security in the state.
The governor, according to a Government House press statement, said the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps will support existing security agencies with intelligence and information for them to effectively fight crime and make the state safer.
He said security agencies in the state will profile all the operatives of the new outfit.
The governor likened the corps to a similar one which exists in Lagos State and debunked claims by the opposition that the state government was planning to use the outfit to arm youths.
“If your hands are clean, you have nothing to fear about the three laws that I have given assent to,” Mr. Wike said.
“By tomorrow, I will appoint the person that will head the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps.
“All criminals will face the full weight of the law. We will fight crime and ensure that the state is safe for investors.
“If you are a cultist and you are caught, it is life imprisonment. If you are a cultist and you kill during cult activities, you will face the death penalty.
“If you are convicted of kidnapping and the Supreme Court affirms your conviction, I will sign the death warrant without looking back,” the governor said.
Osinakachukwu Ideozu, the senator representing Rivers West Senatorial District, commended the governor for assenting to the laws.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the police spokesperson in the state, Nnamdi Omoni, he said the police were unaware of the law establishing the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps.
Rivers is among the states in Nigeria that have recorded several deaths due to cult-related violence and killings.
Seventeen people, mainly Christian worshippers returning from church, were gruesomely shot dead by cultists in Omoku community in the state on New Year’s Day.
President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to visit the state to assess the situation and condole with the people.