[From CHINEDU NWAFOR, Abakaliki]
Ebonyi Governor, David Umahi has decried the wave of insecurity threatening the ongoing Ring Road project which cuts across eight local government areas of the state.
The latest threat followed the kidnap of a consultant and four others in Effium axis of Ohaukwu LGA of the State three weeks ago.
Umahi announced suspension of work at Effium axis for seven days, directed the Local Government Chairmen, Traditional Rulers, Coordinators of the Development Centres and Town Union Presidents of the communities where the ring road project are taking place to swear an affidavit assuring the State government that would guarantee the security of the contractors and their workers.
Umahi gave the directives on Wednesday during the State enlarged security council meeting at his conference room, government house, Ochoudo centenary city, Abakaliki.
He said the aforementioned stakeholders must comply with the directives within seven day.
He added that work would not commence at Effium axis until the government must have extracted reasonable commitment on providing adequate security for the Contractors and their workers.
According to him, the consultant on security protection intelligence unit, the State Attorney General and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) will see to this within seven days.
The Governor added that “anyone that doesn’t comply with this directive within seven days, we will shut down the site.”
Umahi said, “The entire Ring road project is being threatened and I will be willing to shut down any of the sections that will not comply to my directive today. Firstly, I need a sworn affidavit from all the traditional rulers, Town Union Presidents, Chairmen of the local government and coordinators where the roads are passing to be crafted by the SSG and HAG. The affidavit will be that they will take responsibility for the security of the contractors, consultants, and everyone involved in the discharge of their duties and also their equipments.
“Anyone I do not get after seven days, no negotiation, I will shut down that section and it will never be reopened on account of insecurity. The contractors should also stop being very funny on their approach to issues. You have to appoint liaison officer in all the communities where the project is passing through in your section, and you will not choose by yourself the people that sworn the affidavit are the people that will put the liaison officers.
“They will also give a local vigilante and this local vigilante will be two: there will be more than 10 local vigilantes on the machine that will be patrolling your section front and back, day and night; while another set will be stationed at the yards of the contractors and you will pay them how much we are paying to Ebube-Agu. I want them to be registered under Ebube-Agu security outfit so that the law will cover them.
“The consultant on security protection intelligence unit , HAG and SSG will see to this within seven days. Anyone that doesn’t comply to this directive within seven days, we will shut down the site.”
The Governor further directed the Contractors to meet with the Commissioner of Police and the Army Commandant to ensure adequate security for them while working on the project sites.
“The second aspect of the security is the police and Army security, any Contractor who failed to comply to this will leave the site. Time has come for the security protection unit, the consultants and the Contractors to go back to CP, to discuss the security requirements with Army.
“I want to see your lives as safe and work without fear and this must happen within the next seven days. You don’t play a game with your security, there is insecurity all over the country and Ebonyi State is not different but through the help of these people here, we are doing even better than other States but nothing is taken for granted.
“I will not guarantee as the chief security officer the lives and properties of anybody who fails to comply to these sense of directives.
“On the Effium axis, am suspending all operations on the site there for the next seven days. We will want similar commitment from the stakeholders there. 20 People from Effium and 20 people from Ezza Effium side that will get committed together with the Traditional Rulers, Town Union Presidents, Chairmen and Coordinators that will get commitment that we can return to site. If you want to inspect the equipment of the Contractors, you can inspect it outside the site and I am not going to release any money for mobilization to that section until I am sure that the work will be done.”
On the kidnap of a contractor and four others, Umahi commended the security agencies for their rescue efforts, even as he blamed the Contractor for going against the security arrangement of the state government.
“I commend CP, ARMY and DSS very highly since we heard of the ugly incident which we cannot really say this is where it happened, there are speculations and rumors but I believe that today, we find out exactly what happened there is very unfortunate that the Consultant went against our lay down rules by going there without informing us, and going their without security, it is very, very unfortunate.
“I continue to say that you cannot be more Catholic than Pope, if you were going there and you know that the place is a war-torn area, the CP, Army, Project implementation department did not know and none of us knew, but is too early to conclude. I have Schedule a meeting with the Consultant family, incidentally, they are Five and the other four are not known to us because none of them is listed as staff of the consultant in the agreement we signed.”