The Bayelsa State Government has warned those engaged in gun-running to desist from the unwholesome practice or face the full wrath of the law.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, handed down the warning at the weekend while addressing chiefs and people of Peretoru Community at a resumed meeting at the Government House, Yenagoa.
A statement by his Media Aide, Mr Doubara Atasi, explained that the meeting was primarily geared towards resolving the leadership tussle between two factions over the chairmanship of Peretorugbene Development Committee.
The statement quoted the Deputy Governor as saying that the warning has become imperative in view of rumours pertaining to stockpiling of arms in some communities including Peretorugbene Community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state.
He advised parties in dispute or individuals whose rights might have been violated in any form not to resort to self-help by taking the laws into their hands but rather approach the law courts for justice.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo assured that the Governor Douye Diri-led administration would leave no stone unturned in its determination to maintain and improve on the prevailing security in the state.
The Deputy Governor, therefore, warned gun-runners and their sponsors, who are hell-bent on causing chaos and instability in communities, to turn a new leaf, stressing that government would not hesitate to wield the big stick against such criminal elements.
“I want to tell everybody from Peretoru Community that the capacity of government should not be tested by any individual or group. I’m saying this because of the reports at our disposal.
“This government will not allow anybody to pile up arms in our communities for the purpose of destroying our communities. If anybody thinks he has some support from anywhere, we will move against that person and his sponsor.
“This government has that capacity. So, take this warning seriously. If you know, you have one godfather or ‘juju-father’ anywhere that is encouraging you to stockpile firearms, we must come for you”.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, who noted that the idea of people taking to arms at the slightest provocation has to stop in this state, said such persons must know that there is a government in place, adding that persons who feel their rights have been breached should approach the court.
Earlier in their submissions, the Amananaowei of Peretorugbene Federated Community, Chief Timi Odikeme, the President of its Welfare Association, Mr Famous Daunemughan, both narrated the remote and immediate causes of the crisis rocking the community.
Speaker after speaker, including the Chairman of the Bayelsa State Civil Service Commission, who is the immediate past President of the Peretorugbene Welfare Association, Dr Peter Singabele, appreciated government for its intervention and called for the deployment of security operatives in the community.
The meeting which had representatives from the state Command of the Nigeria Police, Department of State Security (DSS) and Joint Task Force (JTF), was adjourned to Thursday, May 6, this week, to allow government to deliver its position on the conflict.