The Rivers Elders and Leaders Council (RELEC) has expressed reservations over the recent Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps signed into law by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, saying that it may signpost another round of violence in the state.
The elders stated that given the recent violence that happened in the state, arguments by those in favour and against the law would only start another around of crisis with unimaginable consequences.
Chairman of RELEC, Chief Albert Horsfall, who addressed journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, warned that violence may erupt in the state, with both the government and opposition political party planning to set up parallel Neighbourhood Watch groups.
Horsfall said, “For this state to profess to set up the Neighbourhood Watch of armed youth all around the state, for example, and for this to be done on a purely political basis of PDP/APC is the most dangerous enterprise for our current political leadership on both sides to attempt to engage in. This development, when it fully happens, will certainly lead the state into another civil war.”
While recalling the events that trailed the Nigerian civil war, the former Director of the State Security Service (SSS) lamented that the bulk of those who died were oblivious of what the leaders were fighting for.
He said, “God forbid that some young hot-headed political leaders should once, again, lead this state in particular back to another throw of possible civil war.
“I call on all sides in this heartless campaign of undesirable rivalry to stop forthwith. Their reckless utterances and activities can only lead this state to another violent confrontation. Their confrontational outburst could cause this state avoidable bloodshed; it might soon lead to physical confrontation by their supporters.
“They must rather resort to dialogue and they must stop sowing the seed of bad blood and longtime enmity among the citizenry who, after all are kinsmen and women, and brothers and sisters and need to remain so and not be led to the path of longtime enmity and dislike of each other”.
While arguing that what Rivers people need is peace, security and good governance, the RELEC chairman called on other elders in the state to intervene in the unfolding scenario.
Horsfall said, “We need to leave a united, peaceful and progressive state to our young ones and future generations, not to destroy the state for them simply on the basis of personal misunderstanding and quarrels.
“A word is sufficient for the wise! Let me, once again, remind the combatants that this state was established and built on the sacrifices and blood of our departed sons and daughters! No one has the right to destroy it or sow the seeds of permanent discord that will lead to its destruction.”
On the issue of restructuring, the former SSS boss stated that they would always support genuine efforts to right the wrongs of the past but was quick to add that politicians at the states’ level must not repeat the ills of what formed the agitation for restructuring.
He said, “We have been advocates of restructuring but from some of the things I am seeing right now, I hope we are right to ask for restructuring because it will place more powers in the hands of states’ leadership, politicians at that level and I don’t want to think that they are incapable of handling maturely.
“We must, therefore, advice and caution political leadership to show maturity, sensibility and caution in the exercise of political power in the interest of all concerned, not for their own personal or group political interest.”