By Lizzy Ikuru.
A yet to be identified man armed with a pistol was arrested during a thanksgiving session organised by Mr Erastus Awortu, the new Chairman, Andoni Local Government Area, Rivers in a church at Ngo, the headquarters of the Council last Tuesday.
Awortu revealed this himself while inaugurating new councillors, Vice Chairman, and other key officers in his cabinet on Wednesday.
The new chairman who expressed concern over proliferation of light weapons by local vigilante groups however commended the security agencies for timely response to the presence of the armed man in the church and stopping him from fomenting trouble.
He also urged security operatives to investigate the matter.
“The suspect was allegedly seen to be approaching my direction armed with a pistol while I was in the church to dedicate our council to God.
“I do not know why the law allows everybody to bear arms.
“I want the security agencies to investigate the matter and ensure nobody in Andoni who is not a security personnel bears arms. If such persons are caught, let the full weight of the law visit them,” he said.
Awortu also disbanded OSPAC, a vigilante group operating in the area.
He said a more organised vigilante service will be deployed to the area in accordance with due process and community cooperation.
“In respect of vigilante services, we are currently working with the peace committee set up by the chiefs.
“I advise all persons threatening the peace as a result of one grievance or another to channel their complaints to the chiefs.
“In my discussion with the chiefs, I have been advised that we will need the vigilante services but this is going to be a properly organised group.
“The formation will have the inputs of the chiefs, Community Development Chairmen, the women, and all the communities, to enable us maintain a safe Andoni,’’ he said.
Awortu said apart from the Federal Government recognised security agencies and state government security formation (The Neighborhood Watch), the local government area presently had not recognised any vigilante group.
The chairman, who was practising as a lawyer until his new appointment, expressed dismay over the circumstances that led to shutting down of courts in the area.
Awortu however, promised to strengthen operations of the judiciary and ensure that court activities resumed as soon as possible.
“I’m so excited that the Magistrate is here today, I have been informed that he has not been sitting due to security challenges, logistics and also the court premises that is in a bad shape.
“I have given directives to the Director of Works, we are going to ensure the court resumes business just like other courts,” he added.