Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, worried by the increasing number of kidnapping in the state, on Thursday, launched a special security operation, tagged Operation Akpakwu, to combat the rising waves of kidnapping, robbery and other criminal activities.
Operation Akpakwu, according to the governor, will draw its personnel from the Army, the Navy, Air Force and Civil Defence.
To underscore the seriousness attached to the new outfit, Ayade provided the new security contraption with over 100 patrol vehicles fitted with cutting edge communication gadgets, 10 power bikes and drones.
Speaking at the event, Governor Ayade, who was flanked by all the service commanders in the state, vowed to return the state, particularly Calabar, to the paradise it once was, before the criminal elements swooped on the beautiful city.
Positing that Cross River State remained one of the safest states in the country, the governor noted that the statistics notwithstanding, the recent incidents of criminality, especially kidnappings in the state called for concern.
He, therefore, asked every criminal in the state to relocate immediately as the state would no longer be a haven for them in whatever guise, adding that henceforth, the state would be too hot for kidnappers and other criminals as those who proved recalcitrant would be made to face the wrath of his government.
“Cross River State statistically remains the safest state in Nigeria, however as a state, we are used to the culture of zero kidnappings, zero cultisms and zero robberies. In recent past, there has been increase in the number of crime within the Niger Delta and the country as a whole arising from the difficulty orchestrated by EndSARS as well as COVID-19 which brought general poverty and general hardship upon the entire world,” the governor said.
According to him, “the instruction is very clear from Abuja, you must deal decisively with any form of criminality, you must deal decisively with any form of banditry, cultism, the kidnapping of any form,” he disclosed.
“Let this, therefore, be a strong message to every Cross Riverian and non-indigenes alike, that as far as you are resident in Cross River State, today is the end of that criminality. Today is the end of armed robbery, banditry must end today. We have received very clear instructions from the Federal Government and I have supported and I stand strong with all my military men and the police that they must comply with the obligations, the instructions and orders of the Inspector.
General of Police and the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces that Cross River State must be made safe,” the governor fumed.
Ayade blamed the spate of kidnappings and robberies in the state on outsiders, citing the police records of those arrested so far in the state over crimes, adding that going forward, every landlord in the state must account for every tenant as part of the regulations which he had signed into law under the Homeland Security.
The governor also warned that the under the operation “Akpakwu” government would henceforth demolish any property belonging to, or being occupied by kidnappers and robbers.
He also condemned the non-inclusion of the Bakassi Strike Force in the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government after the militias had voluntarily surrendered their arms at the behest of the state and Federal Government.
“We want to ask the Federal Government to explain to us why the Bakassi Strike Force has not been given proper restitution, rehabilitation and reintegration as they have done in other states”, he queried, pleading that “the Bakassi Strike Force should be admitted into amnesty so that they can have their due and be properly trained so they can become citizens that will bring value to society.”
Speaking on behalf of the service commanders in the state, the Cross River State Commissioner of Police, Abdulkadir Jimoh, commended Governor Ayade for his proactive steps in crime-fighting and pledged the commitment of security agencies in the state to keeping Cross River safe free from criminals.
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