Soldiers storm Rivers Neighborhood Watch camp, disperse about 3,000 recruits

Soldiers storm Rivers Neighborhood Watch camp, disperse about 3,000 recruits

Thursday, November 29, 2018 10:10 pm

Soldiers at the camp


Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Operatives of the Joint Military Task Force in Niger Delta on Thursday on stormed a camp where about 3,000 recruits of controversial Rivers State Neighborhood and Safety Watch Nonwa, Tai LGA of Rivers State are being trained and dispersed the trainees.

The Army tagged the trainee ‘illegal militias.’

Eyewitness account said the soldiers who drove into the camp, which is also used as the National Youth Service Corps ,NYSC camp, were firm but polite while asking the trainees and their teachers to vacate the camp immediately.

It will recalled that the controversial Civilian outfit though backed by the Rivers State House of Assembly has been a subject of  litigations at Court ,debates, accusations and counter accusations between the members of the two major political parties, of the All Progressives Congress, APC and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the State.

Reacting to the sacking of the camp, Mr Chizi Anyi,a Lawyer ,and chieftain of APC and one of the litigants that have dragged the state government to court challenging the setting up of the outfit said, “It is contemptuous for the state government to go ahead with the recruitment and training of the controversial outfit even when the case challenging it existence and legality is still in court. The government should have waited for the court’s decision before going. I thank the security agencies for doing what is needful.”

Effort by the Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, to set up a similar outfit known as Green Police was also resisted as the Inspector General of Police ordered that the outfit should be disbanded.

Our Correspondent recalls that the Rivers Neighbourhood Watch had applied to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to be accredited to be part of security outfits to monitor future elections in state.

But the request  was turned down because the INEC in the state said it lacked powers to grant that request and instead, referred the management of the outfit to INEC headquarters, Abuja.

Critics have argued that though it may be backed by the State laws, the setting up of the outfit was in contravention of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as such, remains an illegality.

They also argued that the issue of Security is on the exclusive list of the Federal Government under 1999 constitution as amended.

The trainees after they were dispersed from their camp by soldiers on Thursday

Attempts were made to get the official reaction of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt but it was not successful.

Our Correspondent in Port Harcourt called Colonel Aminu Illyasu, Spokesman for 6 Division of the Nigerian Army for the official reaction of the Army he said: “We will come out with an official state”.

However when the official reaction of the military which was signed by from Aminu ILiyasu later released to journalists reads: “Troops of 6 Division Nigerian Army (NA) today the 29th November 2018 while on a routine surveillance at Nonwa Gbam, (NYSC Orientation Camp) in Tai Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State, discovered an illegal militia training camp. The troops met over 100 recruits undergoing military type of training.

“Preliminary investigations into the discovery has commenced in conjunction with sister security agencies in the state to fish out the sponsors of the militia and the training camp.

“Recall that similar illegal militia training camps were discovered and disbanded in Benue and Taraba States earlier in the year and measures were promptly taken to forestall breach of security and safety of citizens.”


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