By Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar

The Cross River State governor, Senator Professor Ben Ayade, has launched in Calabar, a special security initiative, code named, ‘Operation Akpakwu,’ to combat and flush out criminal elements whose stock in trade are kidnapping, armed banditry and all forms of criminalities as a lucrative venture.

The special squad, which is made up of security personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Civil Defence would have a responsibility to fish out those behind criminality of all forms in the state.

To enhance operations, the governor handed over 100 patrol vehicles fitted with cutting edge communication gadgets, ten power bikes and drones.

Speaking at the event, Ayade, who was flanked by all the service commanders in the state, vowed to return the state, particularly Calabar, to the paradise it once was.

He said though statistics indicate that the state remains one of the safest in the country, he decried recent incidents of criminality, especially kidnappings in the state and therefore, asked every criminal in the state to relocate immediately as the state will no longer be a haven for their kind.

Ayade said the state will henceforth be too hot for kidnappers and other criminals, asking them to quit or face the wrath of his government.

He said, “Cross River State statistically remains the safest state in Nigeria, however as a state, we are used to the culture of zero kidnapping, zero cultism and zero robbery.

“In recent past, there has been an increase in the number of crimes within the Niger Delta; and the country as a whole, arising from the difficulty orchestrated by #EndSARS, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought a general poverty and hardship upon the entire world.

“The instruction is very clear from Abuja, you must deal decisively with any form of criminality, you must deal decisively with any form of banditry, cultism, kidnapping of any form.

“Let this therefore be a strong message to every Cross Riverian and non-indigenes alike, that as far as you are resident in Cross River State, today is the end of that criminality.

“Today is the end of armed robbery, banditry must end today. We have received very clear instructions from the Federal Government and I have supported and I stand strong with all my military men and the police that they must comply with the obligations, the instructions and orders of the Inspector General of Police and the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian armed forces, that Cross River State must be made safe.”

Blaming the spate of kidnappings and robberies in the state on outsiders, the governor cited police records, which showed that those arrested so far in the state over crimes are non-indigenes of the state.

He stated that going forward, every landlord in the state must account for every tenant as part of the regulations, which he has signed into law under homeland security.

The governor also declared that under ‘Operation Akpakwu,’ government will henceforth demolish any property belonging to, or being occupied by kidnappers and robbers.

Decrying the non-inclusion of the Bakassi Strike Force in the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government, after voluntarily surrendering their arms at the behest of the state and Federal governments, Ayade said, “We want to ask the Federal Government to explain to us why the Bakassi Strike Force has not been given proper restitution, rehabilitation and reintegration as they have done in other states.

“I plead in the name of God that the Bakassi Strike Force should be admitted into amnesty so that they can have their due and be properly trained so they can become citizens that will bring value to society.”

Speaking on behalf of the service commanders in the state, the Cross River State Commissioner of Police, Abdulkadir Jimoh, commended Governor Ayade for his proactive steps in crime fighting and pledged the commitment of security agencies in the state to keeping Cross River safe and free from criminals.

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