On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, Governor Nyesom Wike in a statewide broadcast to Rivers people, imposed a night curfew at all Rivers State land borders, from 8.00 p.m to 6.00 a.m.
The curfew, which took effect from Wednesday, April 28, 2021, was necessitated by the recent security breaches and deadly attacks on security personnel in Rivers State, by yet to be identified gunmen.
“We wish to advise that those who have any legitimate need or reason to come into or go out of the State must do so before 8.00 p.m. when the curfew shall come into force daily,” Governor Wike had advised.
He stated that security agencies have been posted to monitor and enforce strict compliance of the curfew at all borders and or entry and exit points with Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Imo States.
On Thursday, April 29, 2021, Governor Wike, in another statewide broadcast, further imposed an extended dusk-to- dawn curfew on the entire 23 Local Government Areas of the State, a decision, which was taken after exhaustive deliberations by the State Security Council at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
These measures became necessary, as stated earlier, against the backdrop of the recent murderous attacks on security personnel in Ikwerre Local Government Area, which claimed the lives of innocent officers of the Customs, Police and Civil Defence at their duty posts along the Port Harcourt–Owerri Expressway.
Similarly, there was also another deadly attack in Abua/Odual which led to the killing of officers and men of the Nigerian Army right at their duty post at Abua town in Abua Odual Local Government Area of the State.
Governor Wike had declared that after a review of the present security situation, there were possibilities of further deadly attacks on hard and soft targets across the State and to this end, it has become imperative for the State Government to take further necessary measures to secure the State, safeguard lives and property.
“Accordingly, the State Security Council has, today, after exhaustive deliberation, decided and advised that a state wide curfew on human and vehicular movements be imposed as part of additional measures to prevent the faceless criminals from unleashing their deadly actions,” the Governor announced.
The gravity of the situation is aptly captured by the fact that although the security agencies are investigating these attacks, with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice, nobody knows who they are or where and when the next attack would take place.
No one even knows the motives of the obviously deranged characters or group(s) behind these senseless assaults on Rivers State and the lives of security operatives working to keep Rivers people safe.
“However, what is obvious is that the attackers and their sponsors are people who came from outside Rivers State, and as a Government, we are determined to do everything within our powers to prevent the re-occurrence of such senseless and murderous acts aimed at creating an atmosphere of gross insecurity and panic among the citizens,” Governor Wike had declared unequivocally.
The implications and ultimate objective of the land border curfew and the state wide curfew are very clear and proactive. Nigeria’s polity watchers will agree that the level of insecurity and attacks on government personnel and structures have heightened to very alarming proportions, especially in the Southern part of the country, in recent weeks.
Imo, Abia and Akwa Ibom States, which directly border Rivers State, have been the epicenter of most of these attacks and it is only proper and appropriate, for a Governor who has the interest and safety of his people at heart, to take proactive measures, within the purview of his constitutional legitimacy, to protect his State and his people.
It has become obvious that states facing grave security threats by unknown persons, the likes of which we are confronted with presently, must look inwards and devise very proactive strategies to address the matter, especially given the fact that there is no State Police.
Efforts by some states to set up internal security outfits have also been deliberately and cynically shut down by the Federal Government.
Governor Wike had however, in an earlier interview on Channels Television, advised that Nigerian leaders must look beyond political party affiliations, considerations and electoral calculations, if we, as a country must tackle and defeat the rampant cases of insecurity that have taken over the land.
The wisdom therefore to impose a border curfew on all its land borders within a specified time period and then extending same across the state over a more flexible time period, is very obvious for all to see. Most attacks on government/security personnel and establishments have occurred within the period of the curfew.
Anybody or group planning any nefarious attack cannot come into the State after 8pm and with the statewide curfew in place, the chances of successfully carrying out a night attack, with security agents on full alert, have been narrowed down considerably.
The possibility of attackers remaining unknown for long has been reduced to the barest minimum since it would now be easy, with the curfew in place, to track such attackers with excellent intelligence and surveillance by security agencies.
Like the famous African proverb says, it is better to look for the black goat in the daytime than searching for it at night. Once all the entry points of coming into Rivers State at night have been locked and movement at night within the state, has been restricted completely, anyone or group attempting a repeat of what happened at Ikwerre and Abua, will only have themselves to blame, because the security agencies will now have the right strategy to unleash full force on them.
It is on record that Governor Wike is the first Governor in Nigeria to embark on this very pragmatic and proactive strategy to address the threat of this present security challenge in the country.
This was how he showed proactive leadership during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, an example that was applauded by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Many Nigerians, including the opposition in the State are already applauding the Governor again, for this bold, firm and visionary leadership, in setting down a legitimately practical agenda.
This can be replicated across endangered states, to address this dangerous situation, which threatens our national cohesion and unity.
Governor Wike has emphasized that in taking these and other drastic measures at this time, the State Government’s singular intention is to secure the State and guarantee the protection of lives and property.
Those living and doing business in the State must understand that these are strange times and nothing can be more paramount than their collective safety and security.
Security agencies, traditional rulers and all citizens should key into these proactive measures by the State Government. Intelligence gathering and suspicious movements should be reported promptly to the security agencies for immediate action.
•Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State