By Suoyo Ekubo
Following Wednesday’s violent clash between youths of Yenizue-Epie community in Yenagoa and tricycle operators, which resulted in the loss of lives, the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has imposed an 11-hour restriction on commercial tricycles within the state capital, Yenagoa and its environs.
The directive restricting their movement is between 7 pm and 6 am daily.
Diri gave the directive on Thursday during a meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, which had in attendance traditional rulers, the leadership of the tricycle operators, representatives of the Arewa community in the state as well as youths of the Yenizue-Epie community and other stakeholders.
The governor said the restriction became necessary in order to calm frayed nerves and restore peace in the area.
He said the order will last until the situation improved.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as cautioning against reprisal attacks, 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.
The state’s helmsman 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 to 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 7 pm to 6 am. They are therefore expected to operate only in the daytime until the situation improved.
“Government will not accept any lawless behaviour 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.