Normalcy is gradually returning to Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, after youths launched a reprisal, following the killing by a keke rider, of a resident on Wednesday.
This is coming even as the governor, Senator Douye Diri has moved against the keke riders, banning their operations at night in all parts of the state capital.
There has been tension in Yenagoa since Wednesday. Youths had reacted spontaneously to the killing of one of them, by the keke rider who was said to have stabbed his passenger to death over a N50 change.
The keke rider was immediately mobbed beaten up and killed by the irate youths. The situation caused panic in Yenagoa. There was the fear that the Hausa community, of which the killer keke rider is a part, and the natives would get into a more serious clash.
But on Thursday, the governor summoned a meeting of the Hausa community and the youth leaders, alongside other stakeholders, where the issue was discussed and some agreements reached towards the enthronement of peace.
The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, in a statement, quoted the governor as cautioning against further reprisals, stressing that government will not fold its arms and watch people take the laws into their hands.
He noted that there was no conflict between Bayelsans and the Arewa community in the state and warned those trying to carry out ethnic profiling to desist.
According to the governor, Bayelsans and other ethnic nationalities have existed harmoniously from the creation of the state and that the peaceful coexistence will be maintained.
The governor reassured non-natives in the state of their safety as they go about their legitimate businesses and called on residents to report any security breach to the security agencies for necessary action.
He also directed security operatives to arrest anyone found illegally in possession of weapons, stressing that the laws of Nigeria forbade such practices. He restated that the ban on open grazing of cattle was still in force, warning that those found wanting will be dealt with according to extant laws.
While calling for calm, Diri urged community leaders to advise their subjects, particularly youths, against violating the laws of the state, saying all hands must be on deck to sustain the peace in Bayelsa.
His words: “We must behave as normal human beings. This youthful exuberance of getting angry over every issue must stop. There is no fight between Bayelsans and Hausas from the beginning of the creation of the state till date.
“Community leaders should educate our youths. Nobody will harass anybody in this state. If that happens, report to security agencies. The peace we enjoy here, we must all jealously guard it.
“I did not call this meeting for ethnic profiling. Rather it was meant to calm frayed nerves and to ensure that going forward we all live in peace.
“I hereby impose a restriction on all Keke (commercial tricycle) riders from 7pm to 6am. They are therefore expected to operate only in the day time until the situation improved.
“Government will not accept any lawless behavior from anybody. Our laws have not given anybody the right to carry weapons.
“I thank the security agencies and critical stakeholders that have worked hard with us since yesterday to curtail the situation.”
Also speaking, the youth president of Yenizue-Epie Community, Comrade Samuel Martins, and another youth from the community, Liberia Paul, narrated how the incident occurred and called for more action from government and security agencies to check a reoccurrence of the ugly incident.