Worried by the increasing activities of kidnappers and cultists, 14 communities in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State have said they would comb the forests in their land to flush out criminals.

In recent times, some motorists and commuters in commercial vehicles have been kidnapped while travelling through the area especially to and from neighbouring Imo State.

Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Council, Samuel Nwanosike, said the communities had agreed to take over the war against criminals and criminal activities in the area.

He noted that criminals were overtaking communities and converting farmlands and forests to kidnappers’ and armed robbers’ hideouts, sometimes with the active connivance of community officials.

He gave cult groups and kidnappers operating in communities in the local government area an ultimatum of three weeks to turn a new leaf and surrender their arms or face the wrath of the law.

The deadline extends to the demand to clear the forests of criminals and encourage farmers in the area to return to their farmlands.

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“Very soon, communities will move into the forests en masse to flush out criminals taking refuge there,” he said, adding that the situation has become so bad that kidnap and cult gang leaders no longer respect traditional rulers but sometimes summon them to their houses to flog them.

He said: “The amnesty that was granted to criminals sometime ago was done in conjunction with security agencies and there were no monies attached to it. I was the caretaker committee chairman then. Soon after, some of those people who were granted amnesty returned to crime and criminality.

“The criminals still have the opportunity to turn a new leaf and surrender their arms and ammunition to security agencies. Thank God we now have a Police Area Commander here. The Director of DSS is here and the JTF is here.

“Let them surrender their arms and they will be taken care of.”

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