Interview: Neighborhood watch bill – You cannot create jobs by arming people – Ogbogara Iyalla tells Rivers State Government

With the recent passage of the neighborhood watch bill into law by the Rivers State House Assembly and assent by Governor Nyesom Wike, reactions continue to trail the decision especially from the opposition party in the state, the All progressive Congress, APC.

In this telephone interview with our correspondent, John Diidi, Ogbogara Iyalla, a member Of the APC and youth leader in Okrika Local Government Area, bares his mind to TPCN on the inadequacies of the neighborhood watch bill.

TPCN: Good day, Mr Iyalla

IYALLA: Good day, Mr John.

TPCN: With the recent passage of the neighborhood watch bill into law, and the appointment of a DG for the security outfit, do you think arming youths at this critical period is right or wrong?

Iyalla: There is no part of the Nigerian constitution that gives the state House of assembly the power to legislate on issues of arms and weapons.

It is very clear. It’s only the Nigerian police force and other security agencies that are permitted to carry arms.

Anything that is in contravention to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to me, I think it’s going to be totally null and void. I don’t even see a situation where the neighborhood watch corps will carry arms in the first place given the recent fiat issued by the Inspector General of Police, signalling all police commissioners in their various states to begin to retrieve arms in the hands of people who are not regular security officers.

And even arming youths at this time in our state, when we are just even waking up from the ordeal of high level state sponsored killings and all the rest is disturbing.

The reason why most of us are against this outfit, is because of the idea of giving people guns at a time like this when elections are not even far from Now.

If you want to create a watch, there are better ways of providing security. There is community policing. You involve the community people. If there’s any crime or any person committing crime, the people can get the information and give to the regular security agency.

This to most of us, is seen as an avenue to recruit people for political purposes and nothing else.

TPCN: What are the plans of the opposition party the APC, which you’re a member of concerning this security set up? What does the APC plan on doing?

Iyalla: As a party, we have made our point very clear to the government of the day, that we do not see a situation where we will obey this law.

I am also aware that two members of the public, Barrister Ezemonye Ezekiel Amadi and Barrister Chizi Enyi have already taken the matter to court, so we should exercise restraint pending the determination of the suit in court.

TPCN: What are the expected consequences of this law? And would you say the APC is politicizing this?

Iyalla: You cannot build on a faulty foundation and expect to get a better building. From the beginning, it is faulty. The government in this state is building on nothing and they expect to get something. There’s no way you would place nothing on something and want to get something. We are not politicizing this agency, as it’s even the government itself, that is politicizing the agency.

What they told us is that, they are setting up this watch, this guard, to gather intelligence for the regular security outfit in the country. The question we are asking them is, why should they be in a hurry to arm people?

They have already set aside #20bn. Now the question is, #20bn for what purpose? The question I should be asking you as a journalist is, is the #20bn going to be an annual one or what it’s going to take the agency for its funding? Or is this an avenue to embezzle #20bn? What exactly are they telling us? We are not politicizing it, we are watching them.

Even the appointment of the DG is also faulty. Because the man in question is a known apologist of the ruling Government in the state.

TPCN: Lastly, the Rivers State government has said, the neighborhood watch bill is another step in creating employment for youths in the state, do you agree?

Iyalla: Now they talk about employment, the question I want to ask you that is also a member of the public in Rivers State is that, since the inception of this government how many jobs have they created?

Remember we where in this state when they came into government, and the first thing that they did was to sack the TIMARIV. Are the officials of this TIMARIV not citizens of Rivers state? Didn’t they successfully make this people who where gainfully employed jobless?

The idea of creating job opportunity, you cannot say you want to create Job by arming people. That’s not the wise way of creating job.

In this 21st century, there are thousand and one ways of creating Job for people. Not necessarily by creating a security job, that will at the end of the day give arms to young people, And you will tell me that you’re creating jobs. What job again are you creating.

TPCN: Thank you for your time Mr Iyalla, and we look forward to talking to you again.

Iyalla: Thank you very much.