By Our Correspondent
The Chiefs and people of Akenfa and Yenegwe communities in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state have be ordered to refrain from actions and utterances that would escalate the face-off between both communities over land ownership claims.
To this end, the leaders of the two communities have been made to sign a peace undertaking under the close supervision and watch of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Biriyai Dambo (SAN), and the Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State Command, CP Ben Nebolisa Okolo.
The Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the order on Friday at a meeting with the paramount rulers, and other critical stakeholders of Yenegwe and Akenfa communities in Government House, Yenagoa.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo said insecurity in any part of the state was a threat to peace in every other part, noting that government’s first responsibility remains maintenance of security of lives and property.
He noted that the paramount duty of traditional rulers in their domains was to ensure peaceful coexistence prevails, and should not be seen to be fanning the embers of intra or inter-communal violence under any guise.
The Deputy Governor, who expressed worry that very little value is being placed on human life nowadays, ordered the communities to cease forthwith from any action that would constitute breach of peace and breakdown of law and order.
According to him, the order is to forestall escalation of the conflict, especially as the land in question is the subject of a suit filed by Agudama-Epie Community at the Court of Appeal, claiming ownership of the disputed area.
He insisted that all the three communities laying claims to the disputed land must desist from taking any action until the full determination of the subsisting appeal at the appellate court.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo added that government would take over ownership of the area pending final court judgements on the matter.
He, therefore, directed the Commissioner of Police, Mr Ben Okolo, and Commander of the 16th Brigade of Nigerian Army to deploy security personnel in the area to forestall further attacks.
The Deputy Governor also warned community leaders who are in the habit of parading themselves as kings without government certification and recognition to desist forthwith or face the full wrath of the law.
His words: “Our Chieftaincy Law must have teeth to bite. It cannot continue to bark because laws are not meant to be in the shelf otherwise they become paper tigers.
“The law is not to aid crime but to protect law abiding people. Nobody can just wake up and declare a kingdom or community for himself. We won’t tolerate that.
“We are not in a Banana Republic, nor are we in a state of chaos and anarchy that people will just wake up and do things the way they like. Henceforth, anybody that tries that will be punished according to the law.
“On the disputed area, our position is that, since an appeal has already been entered, the Yenegwe, Akenfa and Agudama-Epie communities should stay away from that area. None of them owns that land for now.
“The state Surveyor General has to determine and make the area very clear to us because for the period that the appeal will subsist, that land belongs to the state government.”
Representations from the Paramount Ruler of Yenegwe Community, His Royal Highness Peniel Zegbe, and those of his Akenfa counterpart, HRH Obadiah John Osomu, were received at the meeting.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, informed that the Obenibe of Epie, King Malla Sasime, and the Odapiri of Epie, His Highness Solomon Bokolo, also attended the meeting and made useful submissions aimed at brokering peace between the two feuding communities.