Douye Koroye is the immediate past Chairman, Bayelsa Volunteers, a state security outfit set up by the first civilian governor, late Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha to support the police in fighting crime. Koroye is now a Special Assistant to the governor on Youth and Community Development. In this interview with JOHN ODHE in Yenagoa, he speaks on the strategies he applied to tackle cultism and other crimes in the state.
There is an outcry by the masses over killings in Yenagoa. Are you aware?
Generally, the level of crime that is happening recently is quite disturbing. Government is not silent about it. The government is doing their very best to combat the crime activity. As you know, we have entered the political season as well and a lot of other factors are contributing to that for now.
As a former chairman of Bayelsa volunteer what do you think needs to be done now?
When I was the Chairman of the Bayelsa volunteers, about 500 cultists renounced cultism. That was a major success, before my appointment as SA to the governor on youth and community development. I want to believe that my successor is doing his best to see how things can be better.
What followed after the renouncement?
The renouncement was done on April this year and shortly after that I was removed that same month and nothing much was done about it. But we had a lot of plans to see how we can bring out these boys and give them reasons why they should not indulge themselves in cultism, but fortunately or unfortunately I was not able to implement it before I was removed.
What was the level of crime during your era?
One area I identified was the level of fraternity, cult groups, rivalry among the cults and fight for supremacy. That was one major thing I identified and we wanted to galvanize them together and talk to them. One thing you cannot take off when trying to harmonize the boys is the ability to bring them together. In fact, part of the problem right now is the inability to distribute the political space along side this various cult fraternities and that has hyped the problem more as of now.
There was calm during your time, what was the secret?
It is very easy, despite the fact that they are carrying arms, you can eat with them. You must make them believe that they are human beings. You see, everybody has his style, and I don't believe in dictatorship. I believe more in dialogue and engagement of the boys. Cultism is more spiritual. So, I was having pastors and counsellors who prayed for and advised them. You must have all these on ground. In some cases, I had to take some of them to prayer centres to go through a level of spiritual reorientation. It is not about how powerful you think you are and thinking that because you are there you must be in absolute control, no. You must have the responsibility to make them better. Some of them have gone so far in antisocial behaviours. It therefore takes a lot of administrative ingenuity and capability to be able to control them to maintain peace. Within my short period of stay, crime reduced drastically in this state.
During your time, a lot of criminal hideouts were discovered and monitored in the city, did your successor continue from where you stopped?
Of course, the hand over documents are there. The issue there is that if you want to work, you don't need any report to work. When I took over, I was not given any handover note. You must have the zeal to fight crime to be able to achieve results. It is very easy to fight crime in Yenagoa. The hideouts are there. During my time, I was going street after street with my boys in collaboration with the police. We were entering everywhere, combing everywhere and creating awareness in line with the Governor Henry Seriake Dickson's mandate on zero tolerance for crime and criminality. At a time, the fear of Bayelsa volunteers became the wisdom of bad boys in the state. When they saw me, they run. You don't need to see papers to work.
When you partner with other security agencies and engage the people, you will get the useful information that will give you results. I was engaging market women and people that live in the ghettos. My phone numbers were everywhere. Classroom teachers were engaged in fighting crime and I positioned my men in every area of the state but you won't know it. There are different patterns one can adopt to go about it and succeed.
Were you supported by government?
Yes. Government support must be there. Without the support of government, how do you fight crime? You can never fight crime without government's support because funding is very important in fighting crime, while we are doing our best.
How do you feel about the recent killing of a 100 level student of Niger Delta University over a cellular phone?
Very sad, we don't pray it happens to anybody. It is highly condemnable and I condemn it in totality, these things can be tackled if the willingness is there, the security operatives should step up to their game.
Some persons in the state are calling for the disbandment of Doo Akpo
That is a very wrong move; we are talking about fighting crime and some persons are saying they should disband Doo Akpo; do they want to aggravate, contribute and increase the level of crime in the state, you can see what they are doing now, they are everywhere, strengthen them and they will do better.
What should the government do now?
Well, I will say engagement, which the government of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has been doing. It is one government that has engaged the youths more than ever before. About 65 to 70 per cent of appointees of this government are all youths. Apart from that, when you talk about training of the youths on various skills, this government has embarked on so many. Recently, you are aware that first class graduates were given automatic employment.
Your advice to those involved in crime in Bayelsa state?
No matter how much you engage the youth, a bad youth is a bad youth. It is not all about government; we all have a duty. The parents, pastors, everybody has a duty to play in the society. My advice is that, crime has never paid off in any society. Nobody benefits or makes a meaningful life out of crime. There are better ways to succeed in life.
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