DO ELEME PEOPLE CELEBRATE CRIMINALS

Do Eleme People Celebrate Criminals?

 

Introduction

The general opinion among the various security agencies in Eleme is that Eleme People Celebrate Criminals. Is this perception true? What is/are the rationale behind such conclusion? Are the people culpable in the on-going criminalities in the area? I have written, lectured and consulted severally on the Eleme people’s apathy towards on-going crime and fear of crime in the area. Some of the factors militating against the masses direct participation in fighting crimes include:

  1. Fear of retribution,
  2. Fear of invasion by adversary,
  3. Culture of loyalty,
  4. Respect for cultists’ commitment,
  5. Focus on personal needs,
  6. Inadequate laws,
  7. Police attitude,
  8. Politicians’ roles,
  9. Government commitment to cultists and their course, and.
  10. Gender Cold War.

The Eleme social system is interposed with lots of roadblocks and checkpoints to regulate behaviours, control crimes and punish criminals. Among the various controls system are such institutions that everyone would want to belong in the society. They include:

  1. Marriage Institution
  2. Leadership Institution
  3. Institutions of Crime Control
  4. Traditional Courts

 

Every Eleme person, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, young or old, religious or non-religious is a member of one of these institutions in the society. How do these institutions ensure that Eleme people do not celebrate criminals?

 

Marriage

In his book, The People of Eleme (1988), Chief O. O. Ngofa observed that “Marriage is a natural sequence of growth and progress. So long as a man is not married, he continues in a second class status in the society. He never ties the full fathom of cloth, irrespective of his stature. He is not allowed to join other men during consultation”. In this statement are the strict limitations imposed on those yet to be admitted into the Marriage Institution.

 

In Eleme, marriage is regarded not only as a liberator and a status, but also confirms that the person concerned has acceptable character and background. He can be trusted in any affair and is regarded as a responsible person.

 

Eleme culture cherished marriage between Eleme and Eleme. The rationale behind this is to ensure that thorough background check and investigation are conducted at least to determine that the marriage is not contracted with someone with criminal history, health challenges, fertility problems, among other important issues.

 

Abraham was quite aware of the forgoing when he told his trusted servant not to take a wife for his son Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanite among whom he resides, “but to go to my country and to my kindred to take a wife for my son Isaac”. Like the Israelites, the Elemes do not just jump into marriage. They carryout extensive background checks and screening before considering contracting marriage. The Elemes know that marriage creates families; and the family is the basic unit of society. The Elemes believe that if the family decays the society smells, therefore are very mindful of whom they tie the nuptial knot with.

 

There are many Eleme people today, who no matter how rich or popular they are cannot marry in Eleme when full background check/screening is conducted as is tradition, so they hide under the cover of “one people” or “one Nigeria” or “one world”.

Leadership

The Eleme culture frowns at crimes and condemn criminals, it rejects them and refuses them admission into leadership positions in the society. For someone to be appointed or elected into any traditional leadership position in Eleme, the person must be free from any accusation of stealing, murder, and witchcraft. He must be married and be adjudged to be good and has contributed to the defence, projection and development of the community.

 

Another prove that the people of Eleme do not celebrate criminals is the existence of well-defined traditional institutions of crime control and punishment. These institutions are explained in the table below.

 

Institutions of Community Policing and Crime Control

All towns and villages in Eleme have the same basic social structure that encourages the existence of agreeable human groups with specific social functions. These groups are responsible for policing the communities, maintaining peace and stability. Every Eleme man and woman, boy and girl belongs to one or more of these groups. The groups are:

S/N INSTITUTION DESCRIPTION FUNCTION
1. Oku O’tor Family group made up of smaller units agreeing with kindred lines. Settles minor disputes between members of the same family.
2. Oku O’e Extended family which owns a hall and maintains one shrine, known as Nsi Eji Settles disputes between members of the same family in matters of assault, stealing, boundaries, inheritance, adultery, witchcraft, invocation of juju, and other forms of misdemeanour.
3. Oku Omu Age grade to which all males belong Settles disputes between people of the same age group resulting to assault, slander, issue of threat, invocation of juju, and other matrimonial cases.
4. Egbara Eta Uninitiated adult men below Oku Ekpo They promote communal work, security, control social decay, and perform traditional entertainment such as: wrestling, dancing, and singing.
5. Mba Eta Organization of Women selected on age and representative basis Regulates the activities of women; ensures high morality and discipline among women.
6. Eji These are Ancestral Spirits – that is, spirits of all who have lived and died. They are known as Oku Eji and dwell in a separate spiritual kingdom known as Eta Eji. They exercise spiritual power and authority and are believed to be ever watchful, powerful and able to help or punish any person. They communicate through dreams and their feelings merely conjectured. They administer divine justice by blessing the good and punishing the bad. And since they cannot be seen or heard, there is always no appeal against the decisions of Oku Eji.
7. Ejor These are deities or gods such as Ejilee, Onura, Ebaajor, Mbie, Ejamaaejor Ogbenwata, Ndorwa, Osarobinmkpa and others. They are known as Oku Ejor and dwell in a separate spiritual kingdom known as Eta Ejor. They are believed to be somehow senior and superior to Oku Eji. They act as agents to Obari (God). They communicate directly through the human consciousness of the Priest or Medium. In this way they reveal secrets, prescribe remedies or answer questions put to them, and administer divine justice.

 

8. Oku Eta The Traditional Ruler (Oneh Eh Eta) and his elders (Oku Ekpo) They constitute Owe Ebo Ete and adjudicate in disputes between two or more persons or between two families concerning land tenure, divorce, custody of children, stealing, boundaries, inheritance, adultery, witchcraft, invocation of juju, defamation of character, rape, elopement, and so on.
9. Oku Nkporon Group of Initiated men with the Highest Judicial Powers and Authority. They constitute Owe Nkporon and adjudicate in more serious matters requiring urgent or detailed investigation such as murder, witchcraft, inheritance, land tenure, divorce, custody of children, stealing, boundaries, adultery, right of burial, invocation of juju, rape, and so on at the appropriate levels of the society.
10. Oku Nyoa Oku Nyoa are group of initiated elders led by One Nkiken (Land Priest/Traditional Prime Minister). Nkiken (Earth-Spirit) is the only Deity that directly relates to the foundation of a community or village and its protection. It is the mother that sustains all living things and receives all of them back to its stomach. The position is hereditary and it is confined to the lineage or family of the original founder of the community. One Nkiken (Land Priest and Leader of Oku Nyoa) exercises spiritual and administrative powers. He performs Ajija ritual for cleansing of Pregnant but unmarried girls and Owaraekpaa Osila (first daughter ritual). He appoints and installs Oneh Eh Eta on the active advice of Oku Nkporon; receives and performs the duties of Oneh Eh Eta if One Eh Eta is found guilty of gross misconduct or upon demise of an incumbent, until a successor is appointed and installed. He ensures that things are done in accordance with custom and tradition. He commands the respect of the gods in the community.

 

The existence of these groups helps to solve the problems of crime and criminality in the society. They help maintain law and order. They control behavior in society. They are the pivots upon which the community revolves. They solve social decay and render communal services. These institutions maintain the center of gravity in all aspects of human relations and dealings. But, are these institutions still relevant in the modern Eleme? Why are they not as active as they used to be? How comes the modern legal system is bent on reducing their powers and rendering them moribund? Will the society be better for it, if these institutions are revitalized, empowered and encouraged to participate actively in community policing? Your answers, comments, observations, suggestions and updates are very necessary.

Traditional Court

There are three authoritative government functions in Eleme – rulemaking, rule application, and rule adjudication. These are the three old functions of separation of power in Eleme except that an effort has been made to free them from their overtures – rulemaking rather than ‘legislation’, rule application rather than ‘executive’ and rule adjudication rather than the ‘judiciary’.

 

The traditional political system of Eleme has been stressed by no differential and diffused character of political and social structure. It would be noticed that the Chieftaincy in Eleme fulfil at one and the same time the rulemaking, rule application and rule adjudication functions and specialization is not consciously related to the idea of fulfilling roles at all.

 

The process of rulemaking is direct and democratic. At the clan level, representatives are sent from the sub-clans to take part in a clan meeting. The sub-clan is divided into communities and villages, and the communities are further divided in lineages and sub-lineages. The lineage is again divided into what is called “Oku Otor” i.e. people of the same family. Each Oku Otor has “Ekpone” (head of the Oku Otor), who is the source of authority for all others. No member of the Oku Otor can take decision or perform any act without consulting Ekpone.

 

The Ekpone posse law, he executes the law and passes judgment on those who disobey his order. He offers sacrifices to the gods and liaisons the family with the ancestors. Any matrimonial disputes or quarrels are mediated by him. In return, he is accorded respect, obedience and honour by members of the family and others outside the family depending, of course, on the charisma and will power of the Ekpone to hold together his subjects.

 

Above the Oku Otor level we have the next kin group – the lineage or extended family called Oku Oɂe. The head of the Oku Oɂe is known as “Ekpone Oɂe” – a very important figure in the community who holds the title of “One Nsi Oɂe”, a symbol of authority of the ancestors, which is very important and mystical in Eleme traditional political system. The One Nsi Oɂe who must be an initiated member of “Oku Nyoa” is seen as the intermediary between the Oku Oɂe and the ancestors. He is the fountain of authority in the community. He serves the “Oɂe” shrine (“Nsi Eji Oɂe), assisted by the next older person who is being prepared to succeed him at the appropriate time.

 

In Eleme, wisdom is associated with age and it is commonly believed that the oldest man is wiser, is closer to the ancestors, and is respected by them. And so, the oldest man is usually the One Nsi Oɂe. He is usually the priest of “Nsi Eji Oɂe”. He makes laws, he also adjudicates.

 

Rulemaking function is also performed by adult male members of the clan in a general assembly called “O’elabo of the Clan”. The O’elabo is made up of the Oneh Eh Eta (the chief), and the elders (Oku Ekpo) collectively referred to as Oku Nkporon, the Egbaraeta, leaders of thought and representatives from each village and community.

 

The procedure for rulemaking at the caln level is democratic, but the final decisions taken depend on the elders when they retire to a “tete-a-tete” meeting known as “Ola”. The “Ola” group finalizes all discussions made in the meeting and decides on decisions to be adopted. The Ola group consists of Oku Nkporon (group of initiated men with the highest power and authority and made up of representatives from each community). Matters often discussed in such assemblies ranges from land disputes, imposition of levies, to war, peace or defense.

 

The Oku Nkporon also performs the functions of executing and adjudicating the laws they have helped to enact. The output structures are also multi-functional. Other structures such as Oku Omu (age grades), Egbara Eta (uninitiated men), Mba Eta (organization of women selected on age and representative basis), also perform rulemaking, rule application and rule adjudication functions.

 

All these structures and functional roles of the political system condition have influenced the political thought of the Eleme people. It should be seen clearly therefore, that the traditional court referred to is not a particular permanent building but interplay of several forces – political, social, cultural and otherwise for the highest good of the people.

 

There had been the belief in the mystical powers of the chiefs. People respected the chief (Oneh Eh Eta) because of his power to make libation and sacrifices to ancestors and as a result, they have better harvest. It was through myths that the chief was able to hold his people together. It was only the chief who can call on the gods to punish or not to punish evildoer in the clan; apart from him, no other person can do it. The importance of the myth was that it helped in the effectiveness of rulemaking and rule adjudication.

 

The chief was an essential element in the system. The community was held together not only by economic and social links – such as living and farming together – but by spiritual and religious links, as already discussed. There was a strong religious element in the Chieftaincy; the chief was the link between the living people and the spirit of their ancestors; and he performs many duties such as making sacrifices and libations which were essentially those of a priest.

 

Similar conceptions are found in other parts of the world. The Kings of England, for instance were thought to have magical or miraculous powers of healing a certain disease by touch, and as late as the reign of Queen Anne (1702 – 1714), people were regularly brought to be cured by the touch of the royal hand.

 

Since the chief in Eleme and his people were linked in this spiritual way, it was difficult to fit strangers into the system. This may be one reason why strangers tended to live in settlements of their own outside the town or village. This personal link between the chief and the people was distorted by the new legal system introduced by the European invaders on one hand and the lopsided Nigerian Constitution on the other hand.

 

The system developed among the people different idea and thought about wealth, power and authority. Wealth to them was not accumulation of wealth in the form of commercial or industrial capitals. If wealth was accumulated, it took the form of consumption of goods and amenities. Wealth to them was meant to be used for the benefit of all and the support of additional development; hence the people of Eleme believed strongly in extended family system and African socialism.

 

The growth of the Eleme traditional legal system has been slow and steady. All towns and villages in Eleme have the same basic structure that encourages the existence of agreeable human groups with specific socio-political functions. We have seen that these groups helped in maintaining peace, order, and stability in pre-literate Eleme. There were age grades to which all males belong called Oku Omu. The family group made up of smaller units agreeing with kindred lines called Oku Otor; and the extended family, which owned a hall and maintained a shrine known as Oku Oɂe.

 

The hierarchy of the community was made up of the chief (Oneh Eh Eta) and the elders (Oku Ekpo) called Oku Eta, and another group of initiated men who have the highest rulemaking, rule application and rule adjudication status called Oku Nkporon. By this arrangement, all imaginable situations were speedily dealt with by the appropriate group, thereby sustaining peace and order in the whole clan.

 

Disputes between people of the same age group (Oku Omu) relating to assault, defamation of character, issue of threat, invocation of juju and minor matrimonial cases were dealt with by Oku Omu. Disputes between members of the same family in matters of stealing, assault, defamation of character, issue of threat, invocation of juju, adultery, boundaries, inheritance, witchcraft, and other forms of misdemeanour were settled by Oku Oɂe. The aggrieved member may sue the other party or the elders may in the circumstances intervene directly.

 

Disputes between two or more persons or between two families concerning divorce, land tenure, custody of children, rape, stealing, assault, defamation of character, issue of threat, invocation of juju, adultery, boundaries, inheritance, witchcraft, elopement and so on were settled by Oku Eta.

 

Owe Ebo Ete (Oweboete) Court

Apart from the above arrangements for settling of cases and disputes, the system also recognized two traditional courts which sit in the chief’s palace or in the disputants’ community town hall. These are “Owe Ebo Ete” and “Owe Nkporon”. Both courts operate at the community level, sub-clan level, and at the clan level. Whenever Oku Eta sits as a court it is called Owe Ebo Ete (Owe Ebo Etate). Owe Ebo Ete is presided over by the chief (Oneh Eh Eta) while the elders constitute its membership. Its decisions on matters brought before it is final and binding, but an unsatisfied party reserves the right to appeal to a higher level Owe Ebo Ete or to the highest court called Owe Nkporon.

 

Since the traditional legal system in Eleme does not differentiate between criminal and civil cases, each matter is taken on its merit and as it affects the co-existence of the parties concerned as well as the larger community. The remedies sought are generally declaration of title, compensation or restoration. That is, to establish ones right, to be cleared of accusation, to recover property or to obtain a public declaration.

 

Suing before the Owe Ebo Ete court involved the aggrieved person going to the Oneh Eh Eta (chief) and complaining. He would state his claims and relief sought as well as the possibility of calling witnesses. He has to pay the prescribed fees and he would be advised on the materials for other related processes. The chief would try to dissuade the complainant from suing with money but if he refused, he would be asked to sue with the prescribed fees and ordered to appear on a date convenient to the chief depending on the nature of the case. He may however, agree with the date or meet the chief to adjust the date after explaining his reasons.

 

On the appointed date, the chief, One Nkporon (spokesman of the community), and elders would constitute the Owe Ebo Ete court. Both parties would state their cases and call witnesses. Members of the court might ask questions to elucidate the points in dispute. The disputants would be allowed to cross examine each other and the witnesses would also be questioned to clarify issues. Thereafter, the court would rise for consultation and on their return, the verdict would be given. The party at fault would be seriously reprimanded and asked to pay appropriate fine. The guilty party may choose to obey the judgment of Owe Ebo Ete court or to appeal against the judgment.

 

Owe Nkporon Court

Owe Nkporon is the highest court in Eleme. The clan head (Oneh Eh Eta) presides over its sitting and members are drawn from the rank of Oku Nkporon who have completed all the processes of “Oba Nkporon”, and are therefore entitled to join in the court’s routine consultation called “Ola”. The processes of getting the Owe Ebo Ete and Owe Nkporon courts to sit are the same but Owe Nkporon is more expensive than Owe Ebo Ete and its decisions are final.

 

Owe Nkporon can hear a fresh case brought before it as well as appeals coming from Owe Ebo Ete or lower levels; however, Owe Nkporon cannot be delayed unduly by any of the parties in a dispute. Once proper information has been communicated to the parties regarding the date of hearing, venue, and time, the court would proceed to hear the disputants, collect evidence, cross examine the parties and witnesses, visit to locus (where applicable), and give its verdict, even though the other party failed to put in appearance.

 

Where a case is taken on appeal from the community level to the clan level or to a higher level court, it is the practice of the court to request for evidence that related the ruling of the lower court. This is the simplest and cheapest way of obtaining justice in the shortest possible time. Although some persons have tried to brand these processes devilish and fetish; the law has also proscribed and labelled same as heathenish and we are aware paying heavily for it in terms of rising crimes and criminality.

 

The powers of the community are also limited by the fact that they cannot confiscate any of the property of unresponsive ones since that is against the law. Banishment and public ridicule is also having less effect as people can easily run out of their community and in fact, the whole Eleme, to the nearby urban center where they can easily make new friends and get on with a life devoid of those cultural constraints.

 

The use of Ogbe to protect one’s life and properties, elicit the truth from an offender and ensure confidence has also come under the harmer of the modern judiciary. However, as Chief O. O. Ngofa noted:

 

“Inspite of the fact that modern judiciary frowns on the invocation of what they call ‘harmful juju’ the practice of invoking the local deities is on the increase in Eleme, irrespective of the rather high fees and protracted sacrifices that are associated with its invocation and revocation”.

 

Ogbe was once an important instrument of investigation. The invocation of investigative juju as a practice of the people has come to stay despite the onslaught of Christianity, civilization, and modern judiciary but, the efficacy of ogbe has faded considerably.

 

The result of the concerted dislodgement of the culture and tradition of the people of Eleme is a crash of the value system as against an upsurge of anti-social activities such as increasing levels of violence, robbery, murder, kidnapping, fraud, vandalism, cultism, adulteration, impersonation, immorality of all kinds and types and several other forms of malpractices and crimes.

 

The church is complaining; its instruments of modern socialization have failed to instil discipline and morality in the people. The school is at crossroads, confused and stranded; it is either its storehouse of modern socialization materials has been exhausted or the operators have lost focus. The government is worried; its modern legal system has failed to inculcate fear and check increasing anti-social activities. The society is no longer at ease, it is drifting, and things are falling apart, crimes and fear of crimes everywhere. Perhaps the Religious and National Values Curriculum now introduced into our Schools would do the magic, in the next ten to twenty years, as we pursue the goals of harmonising such key values as honesty, regard and concern for the interest of others, justice, discipline, right attitude to work, courage and national consciousness.

 

Conclusion

Conclusively, it is wrong to opine that Eleme people celebrate criminals. The system speaks for itself and the people proud themselves as honest, hardworking, industrious and progressives. You can never see Eleme person escorting a criminal to or from court, or celebrating a criminal at any event.

The average Eleme person may appear to be weak and fearful but always own up to his integrity. He hates corruption and avoids violence. He believes in honesty and self-discipline. The Eleme culture encourages Eleme people to stay at home, work hard and make a respectable living at home. Perhaps, this accounts for why majority of Eleme people do not travel very far and long. Criminals are not needed, nor are they tolerated or celebrating in Eleme society. The Eleme tradition hates criminals and has a way of isolating them so that they do not corrupt others in the society. There is nowhere in the Eleme tradition that celebrates criminals, or considers criminals as heroes or role models. The Eleme people see criminals as evil and pandemics; and isolate and keep them away from society.

Besides, the average Eleme person knows that Elemeland has a way of rewarding good and punishing evil. Instances abound where a whole family has been destroyed and the compound abandoned due to heinous crime committed by one of its members. A close look will reveal to you that no public fund looter in Eleme has gone unpunished. Eleme do not celebrate criminals; rather it ensures that the criminal and beneficiaries of crime are punished to deter others and sanitize the society.

What we are experiencing in Eleme today is as a result of the loss of values in the Nigerian society. The unfolding events in which the future of Nigerian youths is being used by politicians should call for the concern of all.

 

 

Osaro Ollorwi – 08036694027

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POLICE DECLARE ZERO TOLERANCE FOR CRIME IN ELEME

Police Declare Zero Tolerance for Crime in Eleme
The new police boss in charge of Eleme Divisional Police Headquarters SP Harrison Akpoguma has declared zero tolerance for those instigating insecurity and other societal ills in Ebubu.
The DPO made this known during his familiarization visit to Egbalor Ebubu on Wednesday, 4th November, 2015.
He called on the people to partner with him in achieving this goal, promising to promote synergy with the citizens and residents for the development of Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general.
According to Akpoguma, his office will partner with all stakeholders in providing security to Ebubu inhabitants by seeking the cooperation of all the stakeholders through provision of relevant and timely information.
The police boss is however not new to the security challenges in Eleme as he disclosed he faced similar situation in Port Harcourt and prevailed.
He therefore assured the citizens of Eleme of his resolve to stamp out criminals and social vices, and appeal to the public to provide the police with useful tips about hideouts of bandits and criminal elements.
He however emphasized on community policing as a duty call to all inhabitants of Ebubu, which he said the “citizens are major players”.
In achieving this aim, he emphasized the importance of citizens to always supply the police with valuable information on crime and criminals before they strike so as to enable the “police to check crimes in the bud. By so doing we will together prevent crimes by deterring criminals, thereby ensuring a safe and peaceful society”.
Earlier, the Secretary of Egbalor Council of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs and Elders, High Chief Julius Okereke thanked the DPO for the visit, especially for his efforts towards the maintenance of peace and protection of lives and properties within the short period of assumption of office in Eleme.
Okereke, while commending the police for their “rapid response to our distress calls”, called on the police boss to facilitate the provision of a police post in Egbalor.
He decried a situation where known criminal suspects are arrested and released almost immediately, allowing them to boastfully regrouped and visit more mayhem on the entire community.
Chief Okereke emphasized on the need for the police to protect both the informants and information given to them; and to ensure diligent prosecution of criminal suspects.
The visit which is the first by a DPO in Eleme in recent times was well attended by a cross section of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs, Elders, Opinion Leaders, Women and Youths of the community.

Under Fire: No Hiding Place for Criminals and Their Ilk in Eleme

Ollorwi.image00012Under Fire: No Hiding Place for Criminals and their Ilk in Eleme

Since 2013 it has been blood, sorrow, horror, pain, death, and helplessness in almost all the towns and villages of Eleme. Sleepless night yet nightmarish, and a crimson web of terror. At night, creaking sounds send shivers down the spines of both male and female, old and young, indigene and resident.
The spate of violence and armed banditry has escalated in recent times. Every day gory tales of violent crimes are told by victims who survived as criminals steal, extort, maim, rape, and kill freely.
But, as God Almighty would have it, the last few days have been quite eventful and challenging for the Eleme Police Division in their quest to halt criminal activities in the area.
The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Eleme CSP Nathaniel Okpara disclosed while giving details of his Division’s effort in stemming the tide of crime wave in Eleme that the police had recorded some success in law enforcement.
This assertion was evidently and explicitly confirmed when the exploit of a gang of notorious armed robbers came to an end in the night that breaks Wednesday 17th June, 2015 during robbery operation along Princess Road, Egbalor Ebubu Eleme.
In a swift reaction to a tip off, the DPO, CSP Okpara led a team of gallant police officers to the scene. The robbers numbering more than 15 and well-armed came with slug hammers, big axes, iron-cutters, and other materials with which they destroyed the heavy protectors and dismantled the fortified security doors to gain access into the building, after robbing a nearby house.
Unknown to the dear-devil robbers, the police had been alerted and they arrived almost immediately. On their part, the robbers were also vigilant as they greeted the police with several gunshots. In a gun duel that lasted more than an hour, three of the robbers died instantly, while many others sustained various degrees of gunshot injuries.
A prominent Chief in the community who spoke under anonymity revealed that three other corpse were found in the nearby bush the following day, while the fourth person died in Kaliko Forest, Eta Osaro, Egbalor Ebubu as result of bullet wounds.
Among the things recovered from the robbers include both local and foreign made riffles and ammunition, refrigerators (deep freezers and fridges), electronics, and other household apparatus, and several motorcycles, which the police kept wondering how the hoodlums intend to carry their loots after the operations.
The police as true friend of the people did not leave the victims of the robbery operation to their fate. Rather, CSP Nathaniel Okpara evacuated them to the Eleme Divisional Police Headquarters, Ogale to prevent a reprisal attack by the escapees/members of the robbery gang. A wise decision that saved the family, and further exposed how low criminals can condescend in trying to reap where they did not sow. It shocked those present at the Police Division, Ogale when a 5 year old boy in Nursery School identified his School bag among the heap of things looted by the robbers.
“Mommy! Mommy!! My School bag! My School bag!” The boy shouted, pointing at his School bag among heap of things carted by the criminals. On opening the bag, the police confirmed that it contains the little boy’s books and writing materials. Truly, in keeping with its slogan that “Police is your friend”, CSP Okpara immediately ordered the School bag to be released to the boy to enable him go to School.
In a related development, on Monday 22nd June, 2015, the Eleme Police Division under the leadership of CSP Okpara also recorded another success as they curbed the AP area, opposite Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited (PHRC), Alesa Eleme. In the aftermath of the exchange of firing, two armed robbers were arrested with catchment of arms and ammunition. In the cause of interrogation one of the robbers revealed that at the AP a gun can be procured for as low as N3,000.00 (three thousand Naira) only.
“The guns are supplied to us by someone from Okrika for N3,000.00. But, we are forbidden from coming into direct contact with the supplier or know his name. It is boss talk to boss”, one of the arrested robbers confessed.
According the captured robbers, an uncompleted building along East-West Road, Eleme New Town, Ogale is where their loots are shared.
Earlier hunts for this notorious gang by the Eleme Police Division ended in futility as the bandits are always a step ahead of the police before nemesis finally caught up with them.
Upon a tip off the police arrived at their hideout, determined. But the robbers were not weak-kneed as well. They engaged the police in a fierce shooting, which prompted them to make a spirited attempt to escape. But the police team rose to the occasion as some robbers met their waterloo in the exchange of fire.
In another development, the Eleme Police also proved that they are on top of the situation when CSP Okpara led his men to defeat another gang of armed robbers after a frenzy gun battle at Oken Eta, Ogale on Thursday 25th June, 2015; at the end of which two robbers died while two others escaped with bullet wounds.
The armed robbers who have some of them dressed in Military Camouflage Uniform were well-armed with riffles and enough ammunition.
Narrating his experience, CSP Okpara said, “As we approached the scene, we were told that the robbers had held their victims hostage in their home, under the heavy rains. But, with courage and determination, we moved in and dislodged them”.
The way and manner the police in Eleme executed these fatal onslaughts against men of the under-world without losing one of their own shows their preparedness and mastery of modern law enforcement techniques.
The police boss while expressing the Division’s appreciation to members of the public whose information facilitated the eventual apprehension of the bandits urged the public to always cooperate with the police by providing the police with relevant real-time information about crime and criminals in their neighbourhoods.
He observed that the police are out to eliminate crimes and criminals from Eleme; and appealed to operators of hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities in Eleme and environs to report anyone with gunshot wounds to the police.
Okpara advised criminals to leave Eleme, stressing that, “There is no hiding place for criminals in Eleme”. He emphasized that the recent police triumph is a pointer to the determination of the Eleme Police Division to rid Eleme of crimes and criminals. He pointed out emphatically that measures were being taken against all black spots with the launch of the “Operation Rid Eleme of criminals” aimed at addressing security challenge in Eleme. In his words, “Police are working round the clock to ensure that Eleme is conducive for business without fear of any threat or molestation”.
The police boss advised those who fled from Ebubu at the heat of the criminal activities in the area to return as the police is at the top of the security situation, emphasizing that law abiding citizens and residents are to go about their legitimate businesses without fear.
Speaking through its Secretary, High Chief M. O. Ollorwi, the Ebubu Council of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs and Elders, had commended the Eleme Police Division under the leadership of CSP Nathaniel Okpara for returning peace and security to Ebubu and urged all those who left the community during the rival cult clashes to return home as normalcy has been restored.
As the police carry out onslaught against crimes and criminals in Eleme, it is the responsibility of the public to assist the police by giving them useful real-time information. By so doing you are helping to rid our towns and villages of all sorts of crimes and criminals. Besides, having achieved these feats, the police deserve our commendation, support, and encouragement.

INSECURITY IN EBUBU: WIKE DEMOLISH TRAILER PARK NOW

Insecurity in Ebubu: Wike, Demolish Trailer Park Now

The Ebubu Trailer Park in Ejamah was originally conceived to serve as Motor Park for heavy trucks, especially trailers waiting for their turn to lift fertilizers from the National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NAFCON) and transport it to various retail distributors across the country.

With time, human presence in the area multiplied; and so did trailers and other vehicles, which caused a lot of jam on the roads. The Trailer Park soon gave rise to a shanty town around it, which can be described as a slum and is over populated.

If someone drives through the major roads, he will mistakenly assume the Trailer Park to be a decent and safe place. On the contrary, Trailer Park is worse than Ajegunle in Lagos touted as Nigeria’s foremost slum settlement. The only similarity between Ajegunle and Trailer Park is that both are built on the ground. Otherwise, Ajegunle is Paris; at least, there are well built houses with toilet facilities. There are roads and streets accessible to vehicles and some of the roads are tarred. Besides, Ajegunle is under the authority of the State and subject to the laws of the land.

Again, in comparing the Port Harcourt Waterfronts that were demolished and dismantled by Ex-Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi due to safety and security concerns, Trailer Park is worse, and therefore not fit to continue to exist.

The Trailer Park is connected with Okpako settlement n Ejamah through a pipeline, which is presently used as access way and contains a hand-dug earth drain flowing from the Park into Epene Stream through Okpako settlement.

The shanty structures inhabited by so many people who have no sanitary facilities, resulted to indiscriminate defecation all over the place. Some persons, due to the high population density of the area, put up insanitary commercial toilets and channel the waste into the earth drain that flows down through the slum along the pipeline, also making the place inaccessible.

The Trailer Park and the resulted slum are very filthy and dirty with heaps of refuse scattered all over. The residents of this slum also dispose their refuse along the East-West road directly opposite Daewoo Nigeria Limited, a Korea Company, constituting a serious menace to the public, moreso, polluting the Epene Stream which hitherto serves as source of drinking water for the people of Ebubu.

The houses are made mostly of corrugated iron sheets and timbers. A few are normal block houses, but they are invariably so tightly spaced together that even commercial motorcycles (popularly known as Okada) find it difficult to gain access. Vehicle owners in the settlement park their vehicles along East-West road, Onne road or Ebubu road and trek to their homes down in the hovels.

There is an awful stench that hangs in the air and those who spend some time there carry this odour around town, giving off a whiff of decay.  Trailer Park is deafening and disorderly. Even some corporate bodies are not left out in polluting the environment as they have turned the area into a junkyard for dumping of toxic wastes and other dangerous materials.

Lamenting the environmental degradation of the area, Senior Pastor with the Assemblies of God Church, Okpako, Rev. Eugene Osarobele said, “Last year they dumped something here and fire engulfed the whole area. People were burnt to death, and properties worth millions of Naira were destroyed. This year again, the same business people have come to dump Chemicals, and those mostly affected are women and children”.

A woman was killed last year by inhaling Chlorine fume that leaked into the atmosphere when the container exploded. Many children whose respiratory system were affected by the fume also died later in the hospital – an incident which forced Daewoo Nigeria Limited to shut down for two days.

It took the intervention of experts from NOTORE Chemicals Limited, Onne and INDORAMA Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited to seal up the hazardous, destructive and killer toxic explosion and prevent further loss of lives.

Apart from sanitation, the most critical and worrisome attributes of the Trailer Park is the total lack of security and the reign of the laws of the jungle put in place by underworld mafia lords who made themselves immune to the laws of the land.

Until recently, the law enforcement agencies were unable to take control of crime in the area. Robberies were committed in broad day light. Women were regularly raped. Hardly does a week pass without people being murdered. There was an unwritten law which forbids victims of crime to report to the police, even with a police post in a Caravan along the East-West road. Those who break the law will pay with their lives or those of their dear ones.

Of a truth, some gang chiefs have erected permanent outposts where sentries are stationed to watch out for the presence of law enforcement agents. There are also landlords and caretakers who rule by the gun. There are gunrunners who feel free and fear no laws. There are drug dealers who fear no NDLEA operatives. There are also hired killers who laze about with sharp knives and tout for jobs. There are freelance assassins waiting for any odd jobs.

Of course, there are legions of sundry criminals who serve as recruits for political thuggery, oil bunkering, foot soldiers, prostitutes, armed group informants, and so on. Trailer Park appears to be on its own, having a government of its own. What harm has these hardened criminals and prostitutes at Trailer Park not caused to lives and property in Eleme as the area continue to offer them safe haven.

Another contributory factor is the demolition of waterfronts in Port Harcourt and its environs and the sacking of the residents which created hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rivers State. This development resulted in mass movement of different types of people into Ebubu and contributed immensely to rising cases of crime in the area. The social decays which prompted the sacking of these waterfronts are known to all of us. These evils find their way into Ebubu and the result is increasing cult cases, armed robbery, rape and other sundry crimes.

 

The inability of the former Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to provide alternative settlements for these internally displaced persons coupled with the lack of adequate arrangements to mitigate the diverse negative impacts of unplanned mass movement of people into Ebubu is worrisome, and therefore calls for immediate attention by the present Rivers State Government under the able leadership of Chief Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to addressing the increasing security challenges arising therefrom in Ebubu.

In recent times Ebubu had recorded an increase in violence clashes between warring street gangs. The Trailer Park has become a strategic staging area for cultists and other criminals to kill, kidnap, rob and rape both indigenes and non-indigenes alike at random.

Many of the toughest secret cult groups have their operational centers in the shanty hiding village of Okpako – Trailer Park, because it provides excellent hiding place and escape outlets in an emergency.

The security threat posed by these illegal, lawless and irresponsible settlers at the Trailer Park is real. The Trailer Park is home to many hardened criminals and prostitutes. They have transformed the hitherto peaceful and orderly Ebubu towns and villages into violent and crime infected communities where cultists, armed robbers, rapists and other hoodlums operate freely day and night.

The roles being played by non- indigenes in the ongoing violence in Ebubu have revealed the danger posed by continues existence of Trailer Park.  Let Trailer Park go!

It is on record that during the Town Hall Meeting held with Eleme people at Ambassador Nne Furo Kurubo Modern Secondary School, Ebubu on August 19, 2010 the Ex-Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi directed the then Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government Hon. Oji N. Ngofa to demolish the Trailer Park “to give way for the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone complex, and to arrest the health hazards and threats to lives and property posed by the illegal, lawless and irresponsible settlers at the Trailer Park”.

This directive, as loud and clear as it came, was not implemented. Today, all communities in Eleme are facing one security threat or another. Ekporo has been sacked; the very survival of Ebubu is severely threatened. There are reported cases of cult related kills in Ogale, Alesa, Aleto, Alode, Agbonchia, Onne, Eteo, etc.

The criminality, hostility, and lawlessness of the illegal settlers at Trailer Park grow by the day. There resistance to the law of the land and disregard for government authority and development is bothersome.

When on Wednesday 2nd April, 2014, the Eleme Local Government decided to take development to the illegal settlers at the Trailer Park by grading an access road hardly did the authority know that the exercise will be stiffly resisted and turned out to be bloody. Government officials led by the Supervisor for Environment, Chief Emmanuel Oluji and the Secretary of Ejamah Council of Chiefs and Elders, High Chief Augustus A. Yanwi were rough handled, attacked and assaulted by these hoodlums who ganged up into a mob. The grader’s windscreens were shattered, and the Operator beaten mercilessly, not minding the presence of the police.

The lack of security is a major problem in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general. Trailer Park should be sanitized. Everything possible should be done to provide security of lives and properties in the area.

Towards this end, all law abiding citizens and residents of Ebubu are to support government’s determination to make Ebubu safe and secure, so that people can go about their legitimate businesses without fear.

The Trailer Park area is porous and poses a serious threat to peace and security within Ebubu and Eleme. Therefore, the calls for the destruction and dismantling of all houses around Trailer Park, and for the government to in turn provide an alternative accommodation for the residents are not out of place.

This is a call on the security agencies to beam their security lights on Trailer Park and possibly take over the place.

Instead of this vast portion of land to be left fallow or provide sanctuary for criminals, it can be used for other meaningful developmental projects such as a Housing Estate or a Standard Market or a Standard Motor Park to serve the Onne Oil and Gas free Zone and the Onne Ports Complex.

My investigation revealed that the owners of the land are willing to donate the land for any of such developmental project. These are all public revenue generating ventures that the government can exploit for the benefits of the citizens. Continue reading

Citizens’ Security versus Freedom in a Rising Crime Environment

 

The “Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations” of the Federal Government of Nigeria permits the National Communication Commission (NCC) to tap telephone lines with the goal of monitoring communications in the country. It empowered the Police, State Security Services (SSS) and other security agencies to intercept phone calls, internet, SMS and other electronic communications to filter information that may be useful to security operations.

The regulation is designed to make it easier for the Nigeria intelligence community and law enforcement agencies to prevent terrorists’ attacks in Nigeria and against Nigeria interests abroad.

This regulation was received by Nigerians with two contending and conflicting feelings – that of hope of being safe and that of concern for surrendering their freedom to feel secure. A provision of the regulation states clearly that, “It shall be lawful for any law enforcement agency to intercept communications pursuant to any enactment for the time being in force and these regulations, if the interception relates to the use of a communication service provided by a licensee (network operator) to persons in Nigeria; or the interception relates to the use of a communication service provided by a licensee to a person outside Nigeria”.

The NCC said that any network operator shall not be liable in any criminal proceedings of any nature for any damage, loss, cost or expenditure suffered or to be suffered (whether directly or indirectly) for any act or omission done in good faith in the performance of the duty imposed under these regulations. The agency bears all the responsibility alone but however warn licensees (network operators) that noncompliance with this regulation would attract serious penalty. “If a licensee or any of its officers, managers, chief executive officer, secretary or other similar officers of the licensee or its officers shall be liable to a fine of N5,000,000 and if such an offence is continuing, such a licensee or officer shall be liable to a daily penalty of N500,000,” NCC stated. What this means is that the security agencies can kick off demand as may be considered necessary from any network operator to intercept conversation of any suspect in the course of criminal investigations.

Recently reports have it that due to rising insecurity in northern Nigeria prominent persons in the region, including governors and emirs have started avoiding public mosques. Northern governors and VIPs had come under increased pressure to change their security arrangements following incessant attacks and killings of Muslim faithful by Boko Haram gunmen targeting prominent individuals. On the other hand, investigations have revealed that southern governors and VIPs are becoming more skeptical about attending public functions and churches due to persistent threat emanating from the Niger Delta militants. The spate of insecurity and rising violence in the country culminated in the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar referring to this period as “a bag time to be born in Nigeria”. Something must be done and urgently too.

With the bombs booming in the desert and the war drums rolling out in the creeks, the Federal Government of Nigeria is not only in-between the devil and the blue sea, but must rise up to its constitutional responsibility which is “the security and welfare of the people”; to maintain law and order and ensure that law abiding citizens and residents go about their legitimate businesses without crime or fear of crime. History is replete with accounts of civilizations that have risen and fallen searching for a balance between citizens’ safety and freedom.  The search for a balance that can guarantee security and establish lasting peace and stability in the system and at the same time protect citizens’ rights, freedom and welfare is ongoing. No nation can claim to have gotten the formula. The civilized world is still groping in the dark in this regard.  

Perhaps, that accounts for the Federal Government of Nigeria’s expression of bitterness at an Israelis company, Elbit System for the breach of confidentiality in the $40million contract intended to see the Israeli company spy on citizens’ computers and Internet communications under the guise of intelligence gathering and national security.   Under the arrangement Elbit Systems is to supply its Wise Intelligence Technology (WiT) system that will help the Federal Government to access all computers and read all email correspondences of citizens in what has been described as, “an infringement on constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression”.

Nigeria is not alone in this race to protect itself and citizens both at home and abroad from terrorists’ attacks or stay on top of its safety and security. Several civilized countries of the world with higher security awareness have adopted similar programme while the search for a universally acceptable best practice continues.

The USA Patriot Act passed by the 107th Congress otherwise known as “Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” allows more electronic surveillance and wiretapping of private citizens. The law although strongly criticized by civil liberties advocates broadened America security agencies’ phone and electronic surveillance authority and made it easier for the government to obtain phone, Internet, and even business records. This legislation which was passed less than two months after the 9/11 is considered to be a vital tool to help prevent terrorism directed at America citizens and American interests.

The America Homeland Security Act passed in 2002 which created the Department of Homeland Security designed to protect critical national infrastructure and focus US resources on protecting the safety of US citizens and respond to emergencies, shielded Internet service providers from customer lawsuits if providers share private subscriber data with law enforcement agencies. The Act empowered law enforcements to obtain information regarding private Internet subscribers without warrant. It also allowed law enforcement agencies to trace the location and identity of an Internet user suspected of posing an “imminent threat to national security interests”, or perpetrating attacks on “protected computers”  both government machines and any system used in “interstate commerce or communication”.

In the United Kingdom the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 empowered security agencies to carry out surveillance and investigation; it covers the interception of communications, technological changes such as the growth of the Internet and strong encryption, and gives unlimited powers to security agencies who on the grounds of “national security”, and for the purposes of detecting crime, preventing disorder, public safety, protecting public health, or in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom intercept any information that may be useful to security interests and operations.

Today, Nigeria is a growing global market for the communication industry. Nigeria is also a fast growing social media hotspot. Nigeria is also fast attracting a lot of religious extremists that are accelerating terrorist activities in the country. The number of telephone lines is rising by the day. By 2012 counts, there are 109 million telephone lines in Nigeria. Reports also have it that Nigeria had 48, 366, 176 number of Internet users and 6, 630,200 Facebook fans, and the highest in Africa. Nigeria is said to be the third largest users of twitter globally.

No doubt, the right to privacy, long cherished by Nigerians and guaranteed by Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is being compromised by the Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations and more of such legislations that will be unfolding from time to time as terrorists and criminals expand their scope and modus operandi the government device new means and laws to check them and their activities in the country.

Again, there is this fear that political opponents and those considered radicals will be unfairly target for surveillance.

Besides, what is the guarantee that network operators will not intercept private communication or give such information to wrong persons? Many Nigerians have continued to border. There is need for appropriate regulations to ensure that the privacy of Nigerians, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations, etc are protected from dubious elements in the system who may like to use this method to collect information about innocent people to victimize or target and attack.

The Lawful Interception of Communications Regulations is the Federal Government of Nigeria’s counterterrorism and crime prevention strategy that should be welcomed by all, in view of the emergent trends in insecurity and criminality in the country. Governments at all levels on their part should make sure that this strategy is leak-proof, the procedure well defined and operators trained to protect innocent people from being victims of this good intention.

While we depend on our military and law enforcement to defend and protect us, we also must do our part. We must give a little of our freedom to get more of protection! Safety comes before freedom! One cannot be free in the face of danger!