Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, disclosed this during a meeting with first class traditional rulers, local government areas chairmen and some top security officers in Government House, Yenagoa.
Ewhrudjakpo, who said the government is yet to confirm the report, urged traditional rulers and security agencies to complement its efforts in implementing the state’s anti-grazing law to forestall herders-farmers crisis.
According to him, the meeting, with the traditional rulers and security agencies, had become imperative in view of the worrisome intelligence at the state government’s disposal pertaining to increased espionage activities in most communities.
Ewhrudjakpo said the unconfirmed security reports also had it that there was a mass build-up of arms in various forests by people with sinister plans, who came into the state under the pretext of carrying out fishing, farming and other businesses.
He, therefore, stressed the need for people of the state, particularly the traditional rulers and youths, to be vigilant as well as strengthen community policing across the state.
The deputy governor said the anti-grazing law was not made to witch-hunt anybody, but rather a proactive measure to avoid banditry and other security challenges facing most states in the country.
He said the meeting was convened to discuss strategies to enable community leaders monitor the movement and activities of strangers in various communities in accordance with existing laws.
“I can tell you that most of our communities are undergoing espionage. We have some intelligence, though not yet confirmed, that there is a mass build-up of arms in our various forests, which we are not knowledgeable of.
“I can assure you some of these people, who come into our communities in the name of fishing and farming, know our forests more than us and they just waiting for the time to strike. That’s how it started in the South West and other places in this country.
“It is already here with us. So, we should stop playing the ostrich by trying to cover the smoke with a basket. It is better to open up the smoke and deal with it. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to nip the herders/farmers problem in the bud
“This meeting is to enable us set an agenda on how to do what is called due diligence and person mapping for us to clearly know the people who come into our communities in accordance with the law.
“Henceforth, there must be a way of profiling any person who is not an indigene that comes into our communities: where the person is from, how long he or she will stay and what the person will be doing during his or her period of stay,” he said.