John ODHE, Yenagoa
The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) as well as rights activists in Bayelsa have raised the alarm over perceived increasing rate of lawlessness in the state especially Yenagoa, the state capital.
Some of the concerns they raised bother on the impunity of road users such as keke riders and taxi drivers who flout traffic rules.
According to them, motorists and tricycle operators in the state capital had grown wings and become so defiant to the point of fragrantly disobeying relevant security operatives on parking and overtaking rules, thereby causing incessant avoidable accidents.
They equally complained of land developers who often hurl defiance at the extant laws guarding builders on where and how to build and where not to erect buildings, lamenting that such acts of irresponsibility were responsible for the blockage of water passages and resultant flooding being observed in the state.
Also of concern, according to them, is the indiscriminate and multiple tax collections by those who hide under the cloak of government agents to defraud unsuspecting residents.
Their complaints also went to traders occupying major roads in the state capital with reckless abandon and posing serious life threats to not only road users but also themselves.
They further lamented that criminal elements have taken advantage of the seeming lawless situation in the state to unleash terror on innocent citizens in their homes and business places.
Those who spoke to TNN on the worrisome situation, however, blamed the relevant authorities such as the police and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) for their laxity on duty.
A social activist and commentator, Dr. Ekyor Welson noted that one of the major causes of lawlessness was an existing gap between the government and the govern, which he said, needed to be abridged.
He said “one of the responsibilities of a responsible government is to provide law and order. If the government decides to be irresponsible, you will have lawlessness and disorder.
“What we need now is a government that is alive to its responsibilities of governance. Most of the people that are engaged in disorderliness are connected to one government official or the other.
“So, there will be problem where government itself has become disorderly because they will bring disorderliness in society.”
A member of the Civil Liberties Organization in the state, David Wast attributed the menace to lack of will on the part of government to prosecute offenders no matter how highly placed the offender may be in society.
His words: “there is laxity in the sense that the government is unable to enforce the law. The citizen does whatever pleases him or her and goes scot-free with it. You see somebody trading on top of a bridge, that act is being perpetrated because the government is condoning lawlessness.
“If we allow lawlessness to thrive in Bayelsa state, there will not be peaceful and conducive environment for the people to live. Even the VIPs are in the act of lawlessness. How can a man under the name of VIP go against the traffic? That is lawlessness in the highest order.”
Also, a member of one of the political parties in the state, Mr. Einstein Oribo, who described the level of lawlessness in the state as alarming, said lack of political will on the part of government and poverty on the land were responsible for the lawlessness in the state.
“I think the lawlessness is as a result of lack of political will and poverty which are clearly seen in Bayelsa state. The political will in governance to secure lives and property is what we have not seen in the state.
“I am not an advocate of lawlessness but it is only natural that when things don’t go right with the people, they tend to look for alternative means of survival,” he added.