Appreciating Benefits Of Local Vigilante
Before the invitation and inauguration of OSPAC, a local vigilante outfit, into some communities in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, it is important to review the security situation of the areas. The entire LGA and its environs had turned into jungles of crimes and criminality. The ecosystem was overrun by cultism and cult – related violence persistently.
There were rampant violent clashes, arson, manslaughter, murder, beheading, armed robbery, kidnapping and assassination etc. All these social aberrations happened unabated as conventional security outfits were overwhelmed by the superior firearms and criminal activities of these daredevil cultists and assailants. Our locals could no longer access their farms as forests or farm lands were converted into dens of iniquity for kidnappers and “ barracks” for the Boys.
Life, in every community became too unbearable as locals lived in perpetual fear of the unknown. However, economic and social lives were halted. The boys actually took charge of everything and everywhere.
They became policy makers and decision makers in their different domains, where they held sway. In most unfortunate situations, locals paid through their noses before the Boys could permit them to host social ceremonies such as marriages, church services, funerals, or birthday celebrations.
In some scenarios, conventional security men were found complicit in these agonising situations. Buses and passengers were abducted at will along the Port Harcourt – Owerri Highways and victims taken into their dens for ransoms. In fact, our local communities became desolate and deserted. Life became hell for the inhabitants! Severed human bodies littered the nooks and crannies of our communities.
To make matters worse, cronies and relatives of the hoodlums bragged about the evil actions of their siblings and used same to intimidate innocent and harmless citizens.
While all the atrocities were meted out to our locals, the ranting arm- chair activists kicking against OSPAC today looked elsewhere and never condemned the evil activities or acts of terrorism perpetrated by the Boys. The boys also had some political patronage from the ruling political parties of the day.
It was regrettable that all efforts made to bring the ugly situations under control failed woefully because of the conspiracy of some CONFLICTPRENEURS, violence merchants and some compromised security men who received kickbacks when ransoms were paid .
This was the backdrop that birthed the invitation and inauguration of OSPAC in Ikwerre LGA. It was, even, clearer to the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the cripple to walk, that OSPAC restored sanity, peace and sanctity of life to Ikwerre LGA. Ever since OSPAC took charge of the security architecture (internal) of our local communities, normalcy has returned as the criminal elements have all fled and peace is gradually returning to every community. Locals could move around and do their legit businesses unmolested as the occurrence of violent clashes and killings have ended relatively.
There are no longer reported cases of abductions and rape as before. Kudos to OSPAC!
While we must admit the fact that some members of OSPAC have their excesses, it becomes very pertinent, to state here, that such misdemeanours be channelled to our traditional institution (ROYAL STOOLS) which supervise and coordinate them to handle, rather than subjecting them to public ridicule and disrepute.
Although we have had some instances where a handful of them got involved in the settlement of civil strife which is not a part of their rules of engagement, such perpetrators ought to be punished according to their weird ‘modus operandi.’
In as much as members of the local vigilante are part and parcel of our corruption-ridden or rotten society, there are chances or tendencies that some of them will be negatively influenced to get involved in some nefarious acts as against the rules of engagement.
However, it will not be advisable for us to throw away the baby with the bathe water. While handling their excesses, we have to tread with caution so as to avoid exposing them to danger.
It is important to remark here that conflictpreneurs and merchants of violence are so disturbed that the organisation has run them out of business. They are hell-bent on discrediting the positive sides of OSPAC.
Most importantly, peace and order have returned to our local communities. There is sanity now and there are no traces of cultism and cult- related activities. We are at peace and have celebrated two Yuletide Seasons without bloodbath.
The Police hierarchy must come to terms with the stark realities that our local communities have more confidence in OSPAC than they.
Therefore, we must respect and honour OSPAC for its sacrifice and good works and caution them when necessary. If we work to disband them, GOD FORBID, it will be to our own peril. The “ terror” of OSPAC is far better than the romance of De Gbam and Ice Land.
In conclusion, I urge the traditional institution and the political leadership of Igwuruta and Ikwerre LGA to rise up to the challenge of ensuring that the members of Igwuruta OSPAC, who were harassed, molested, arrested and detained by the Police, regain their freedom and be allowed to continue in their business of sustaining peace at Igwuruta. This call is beyond the Igwuruta Saga. Let people of good conscience rise up to support OSPAC to continue in their giant strides.
Most regrettable is that of Emohua Council Chairman, who outrightly banned the operations of the local vigilante group co-named OSPAC without any alternative mechanism on ground regardless of the possibility of regrouping of the men of the underworld to the local communities. Afterall, one of the best writers from the Black World, Chinua Achebe, warns us to always know when the rains begin to beat us.
By: King Onunwor with Reports From Daniel Henacho Eluke (Ezeoha