By The Evangelist News edition, Thursday, December 14, 2023.
In furtherance of the Security Management vision of the Akwa Ibom State government as contained in the ARISE Agenda, the State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno, has launched Ibom Community Watch, a neighborhood outfit to enhance security in rural communities and strengthen community policing liaison with security agencies.
Performing the launch at the Uyo Township Stadium, Governor Eno reiterated his administration’s commitment to consolidate on the strides of the previous administrations in the area of peace and security.
He said the core vision of the outfit is to provide security at the grassroot level, provide intelligence for the mainstream security services and ensure that government facilities are not vandalized.
According to him, “they are to work under very strick supervision and control of the main security agencies, especially the Police. Their jobs will be to provide security information, to help in crowd control, to help protect basic Government assets and ensure that there is peace in all the areas where they are located.”
Governor Eno expressed optimism that the Ibom Community Watch programme, beyond ensuring security at the rural communities and ensuring safety of public facilities from vandals, will also create employment for about five thousand youths, stimulate the economy by creating business for entrepreneurs.
He affirmed that all body and foot wears used by the security outfit must be produced locally.
“I would like to also say that not only are we creating jobs for these five thousand people, we are creating jobs for small business enterprises. The uniforms you see here are made by Akwa Ibomites. All of the boots that these men are wearing are made by Akwa Ibomites and that is part of stimulating the economy, so that our people who have handwork will continue to do more things,” he stated.
Reiterating his earlier directive that all splinter security groups be collapsed under the Ministry of Internal Security for profiling and recruitment into the State scheme, the governor further stressed that the Ibom Community Watch will henceforth be in charge of crowd control at government events and controlling traffic caused by transporters and traders at some locations in the state to avoid conflict by splinter groups.
“These splinter groups may not have really helped us as a State, and sometimes we have clashes among those groups. It is better we put all of those groups together, train them, profile them and give them a permanent job and then move them off the streets so that they can be useful, not just to themselves, but also to the society.
On logistics, the governor said that buses, motorcycles and communication gadgets will be provided to the group on local government basis to help them navigate rural areas and ensure ease and timeliness in information sharing both within the group and with the security agencies.
He thanked the regular security agencies for providing required technical support and training of the initial 550 personnel to kick-start the outfit and affirmed that the next batch of training and recruitment will be targeted at creating a team of locals from the riverine areas to help in marine security, stressing that 30% of the total 5,000 personnel target for the Ibom Community Watch should be women.
Governor Eno who used the occasion to explain the Security Trust Fund bill recently passed by the State House of Assembly and assented by him, noted that security is a serious business and needs funding which will require the contributions of non governmental organisations to succeed, hence the need for the law and an agency that comprises both government and private stakeholders.
“Government alone cannot fund it. We are going to set up a board comprising service personal, our own people and the private sector. We are going to work out a modality from January. Everyone who picks up business in Government would have to pay security fund, and everyone that does business in Akwa Ibom would have to contribute to the fund. The fund will not be managed by anyone in Government, but in a collaboration. The chairman of the trust fund would be a private citizen and a business man who will understand that these funds are meant only for security needs of our state,” he added.
Earlier, Commissioner for Internal Security and Waterways, General Koko Essien rtd. noted that the launching of the Community Watch was a culmination of the training and passing out of the first five hundred and fifty trainees from Uyo Local Government Area, explaining that the outfit will accomodate five thousand youths in the State recruited from the political units for equity and fairness.
On his part, the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State Command, CP Olatoye Durosinmi, commended the initiative of the Umo Eno led- government in tackling security challenges, saying that the engagement of 5000 youths will not only ensure a significant reduction in criminality, but enhance policing especially with the spelt out rules of engagement.
Also speaking, the State Coordinator of the Ibom Community Watch, Isantim Kenneth Okon, expressed delight with Governor Eno for his visionary leadership approach which has reduced security challenges to the barest minimum and taking thousands of youths out of the streets through the Community Watch programme.
He pledged unwavering commitment towards ensuring that the aim for which the programme was initiated is achieved by collaborating with the State Security agencies to ensure the Security, peace and harmony of the State.
Highpoint of the launch was unveiling of operational vehicles for the Community Watch programme.