By Maudlyn Eduke
Bayelsa State Government has warned that it would not fold its arms and watch anyone or group of persons disrupt the peace in Azuzama Kingdom in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
The warning came on the heels of alleged attempt by some persons to forcefully take over the leadership of the kingdom.
The State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, handed down the warning at a meeting in Yenagoa involving the state government, security agencies and representatives of Azuzuama Kingdom.
He stressed that his administration would do everything within its reach to maintain law and order in the kingdom and every part of the state.
Speaking through his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Diri frowned at reports of unrest in Azuzuama over leadership position, a development which he described as mundane and uncalled for.
While urging the people of Azuzuama to remain peaceful, the Governor cautioned those who are seeking to lead, to do so by following due process in the interest of peace and stability for sustainable development and prosperity to thrive in the various communities.
Governor Diri lauded leaders of the community for their peaceful disposition and decision to involve the state government and called on all the parties to embrace dialogue as a means of resolving the issue rather than resort to violence.
He assured that the state government would investigate reports of unrest in the kingdom with a view to ensuring that peace prevails in the area.
“Nobody can intimidate the State Government or the Governor or anybody in government from doing what is right, which is the protection of lives and property.”
“We are going to do that because it is a sacred duty. We swore to an oath to protect lives and property. I can assure the community that they should just remain calm and peaceful. There is a government in this state. We are not in a banana republic.”
“I can assure you that we will do all within our powers to ensure that nobody use any force to take over leadership in any of our communities. We will not allow that to happen. We will explore all avenues to bring the situation in Azuzuama under control.”
Earlier, the Amananowei of Ariwei-Ama, one of the federating communities of Azuzuama, Chief Foncha Ekeuwei-Ariwei, lamented that since the death of the Ibenanaowei of Azuzuama Kingdom in 2013, the people have not had a replacement.
He, however, noted that efforts to enthrone a new Ibenanaowei, including the successful review of the Kingdom’s Constitution had reached an advanced stage before some disgruntled elements suddenly emerged and “are trying to use brute force to scuttle the process.”
Chief Ekeuwei-Ariwei who spoke on behalf of the leaders of the five Azuzuama communties, alleged that the activities of the dissident group aided by some security agents were threatening the peace of the area .
He, therefore, solicited the state government’s intervention to restore law and order in the kingdom and ensure that due process prevails in the election of a new Ibenanaowei of Azuzuama Kingdom.
In their separate remarks the Commander, 16 Brigade Nigerian Army, Yenagoa, Brigadier General E.T Essien and the state police commissioner, Mike Okoli denied the deployment of their personnel to support any group in Azuzuama.
They promised to investigate the allegation and assured the government and people of their neutrality to maintain peace and security in Azuzuama and other parts of the state.
In their contributions, Secretary to the State Government, Rt. Hon. Benson Konbowei, the Chairman , Southern Ijaw Council, Chief Nigeria Kia and Commissioner for Power, Mr. Ebitei Robert, all expressed worry and called for urgent actions to de-escalate rising tensions in the area.