As part of the ongoing anti cultism campaign and efforts towards building better collaboration between security agents and the citizens in Ughelli Kingdom, AA PeaceWorks with funding support from Nigerian Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) brought together a cross section of citizens in the LGA, including representatives of the security agencies to a Town Hall meeting which held on the 13th of October 2016 at Ughelli Kingdom Hall Ughelli Main Town. The meeting had in attendance, stakeholders from across the seven clans of Ughelli North, citizens and security providers e.g., the police, DSS and local vigilante. Issues bothering around security in the local government were discussed and possible ways of improving security in the area were proffered. Members of AA PeaceWorks who facilitiated the meeting include: Dr. Judith Burdin Asun (Executive Director); Uche Ifukor, Gabriel Osekene, and Elizabeth Jarikre.
The Community Stakeholders Network (CSN) led by Hon. Chief Anthony Kpuwhara presented activities of the group including series of interventions implemented which helped to break the cycle of violence among the prominent cult groups in the LGA – Black Axe, Mafites and Vikings confraternities.
Responding to some of the issues, the representative of the Area Commander, SP Gabriel Utitie advised that citizens should help the police with regards to information sharing. However citizens should not relate sensitive information to just any police officer but only to top ranking officers such as the Area Commander, DPO, Commissioner of police who will be able to treat such cases with utmost confidentiality so as not to endanger the life of the citizen who gave the information. He enjoined citizens to always insist on their rights no matter the level of intimidation.
“The police is your friend, they are here to serve you better if you cooperate with them through information sharing”.
Going forward, citizens and the security agents agreed that security is a shared responsibility and therefore suggested the following ways to improving security in Ughelli North LGA.
- Government should empower the police with more logistics to enhance police performance.
- There is need for early warning/early response structure in each community/cluster to interface with the police.
- Information should be given to senior police officers as giving such information to junior police officers may not be productive.
- Information given to the police should be treated with utmost confidentiality.
- Citizens should always report to the police issues that threaten their peace. “If you see something, say something”.
- Report conflict issues to the police at their latent stage before they develop into full-blown conflicts.
- Government, community leaders should make concerted effort towards strengthening the traditional structure, to instil in the children and youth the right values and moral.
- Citizens must always insist on their rights and should not be in a hurry to pay bribe to the police.
- Community leaders must allow the police to do their work and not to shield criminals from being investigated and prosecuted by the police.
- Citizens were encouraged to call the Area Commander and DPO directly whenever.
Another activity that drew participant’s attention to the need for learning from past mistakes was the video vignette ‘My Story’ which revealed Mr. Timi Pudie’s ordeal as a member of Neo Black Movement of Africa during his school days. The short movie revealed that humans especially youths are quick to forget their experiences as they go through life; hence more terrible mistakes are made. Participants who spoke on the video confirmed that friends play a key role in everyone’s life and therefore it is important that we chose our friends.
Mr. Uche Ifukor enjoined youths to imbibe the culture of peace, forgiveness and discipline. He also encouraged parents to train their children well to be responsible members of the society.