Delta State government, Tuesday, warned that it would deal decisively with anyone found breaching the existing peace in the state.

The Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Kingsley Emu, gave the warning in Asaba while addressing journalists after visiting a wounded victim of violent protests orchestrated by motocycle riders, popularly called Okada riders.

Flanked by State Commissioner of Police, CP Abaniwonda Olufemi, the State Commissioner for Information, Dr. Ifeanyi Osuoza, Director-General, Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency, Chief Patrick Ukah, the Director-General, Security, Hon. David Tonwe, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Sir Festus Ahon, and the Chairman, Motorcycle and Tricycle Operators Association (COMTOA), Chief Obi Nzete, the SSG said the state government was working with security agencies and the leadership of the Okada riders to resolve the impasse.

Dr Emu said, “For the past four days, we have been having some significant challenges from the banned Okada riders in some designated areas. It has become an instrument for robbery. They are banned in certain areas during the day and there is a limit to their operation time. Once it’s past 8pm, when the taskforce that ensures compliance had stopped working, they violate all the regulations and then rob people with short guns and all that.

“So, we decided that we must protect our citizens. We set up a taskforce between the leadership of the Okada riders and other security agencies. And, on that fateful day, they caught some of them and warned them not to violate the rules again.

“When this taskforce went back two to three days later, on seeing the taskforce team, the Okada riders opened fire on both the security agencies and the taskforce and, in that circumstance, two of the Okada riders lost their lives.

“Yesterday, they came on a reprisal attack and went to our Old Secretariat on Summit Road and vandalised the place, carting away computers and other materials which had no bearing with the issue at hand.

“And before we could know it, these people who have about nine locations in Asaba, started using these places as their armoury. Using their implements such as shovels, hammers, cutlasses and even short guns, to destroy things.”

Narrating further, Emu said, “Today, we got intelligence that they will be out there and they went straight to the plank market along Okpanam Road, where one of the Igbomen they shot died eventually. And there was to be a big fight but the police have been able to manage the situation.

“But the security agencies are working to ensure that Asaba retains its calmness and peacefulness. We had to come with the Commissioner of Police to see the other patient who is still in the hospital. We understand that some pellets are still in his system.

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“We are reassuring all well-meaning citizens that we will continue to protect lives and property. We want to warn people who have properties, especially uncompleted ones.

“We seize this opportunity to call on all landlords to, please, know your tenants, irrespective of where they come from. It is not targeted at anybody but if you have a tenant who is destructive, we will hold you accountable.

“We are now advising them to go straight to the Office of the Director General, Asaba Capital Development Agency, to go and register such properties that you have leased out where you have more than five tenants without a building.

“We want to reassure you that the state is peaceful and we will do everything to keep the state peaceful.”

On his part, the State Commissioner of Police, Abaniwonda Olufemi, cautioned against violent protests, saying security agencies were prepared to maintain law and order in the state. “Following what happened yesterday, this morning, we decided to embark on what we call confidence building patrol to go to all identified black spots and assure residents of their safety.

“While this was ongoing, we decided to pay a visit to the hospital here and see the individual that was injured in that clash yesterday. Some will tell you that it was a very peaceful protest.

“But let me quickly add, peaceful protest is a right of everybody but violent protest is a crime. When you decided to protest and you came out with arms and implements, vandalise properties; I don’t know what the definition of peaceful is.

“We implore all those who live within our area of responsibility to go about their lawful businesses. The government, the police and other security agencies are guaranteeing your safety and right to trade.”

Furthermore, Director-General of the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency, Chief Patrick Ukah, had called for calm, noting after inspecting the scene of destruction in company of the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Kingsley Emu and Head of Service, Mr Reginald Bayoko, condemned the action of the protesters for the wanton destruction and vandalism of property at the Motorcycle and Tricycle Operators Association (COMTOA) Secretariat.