Tackling Maritime, Riverine Insecurity, Promoting Community Resilience in Bayelsa State

Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) have posed significant challenges in recent years. While 2022 saw a massive reduction in piracy incidents, UNODC in partnership with the Bayelsa State Government and with the financial support of the Government of Germany embarked on the implementation of a project titled “Combating Piracy and Maritime Insecurity in Nigeria Through a Community-Based Crime Prevention Strategy with a view to sustaining gains made and preventing the shifting of criminality into the riverine areas of Bayelsa state.
Its overall objective is to support the Bayelsa State Government and people in the development, testing and implementation of a community-based crime prevention strategy concept.
Ultimately, the project aims to empower communities in giving practical meaning to the Freedom from Fear as one of the four fundamental human rights recognized under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
After its launch in 2021, the project as a first step supported stakeholders, including the Federal law enforcement and security institutions, the Bayelsa State Government, local government actors, traditional rulers and organized civil society in developing an overall concept and strategy of community-based crime prevention. This process cumulated in the adoption of the first Bayelsa State Crime Prevention Strategy on 17 March 2022 by the Honorable Attorney General of Bayelsa State on behalf of the Government of H.E. Governor Diri.
Then the project facilitated the formation of a Joint Security Committee comprised of members from the Nigerian Navy, NDLEA, Civil Defense, the Nigerian Police Force, including the Marine Police, the Bayelsa State Government, Community Representatives and Civil Society Organizations to provide guidance and coordination and to regularly review progress in implementation.
With a view to testing and further refining the conceptual validity of the strategy, it was first launched in three pilot communities, namely Ayamasa, Ikebiri 1 and Otuan. With the support of Synergy Care Development initiative, communities developed action plans for the localized implementation of the Bayelsa State Crime Prevention Strategy addressing the specific security and crime prevention needs within their respective environments.
As of today, the project has achieved significant milestones in the three pilot communities, including the refurbishing and equipment of police posts, youth development centers, cassava processing facilities to enhance employment and solar powered street lights which were inaugurated on 5 July as part of the implementation of the community based crime prevention action plans. As Dr. Oliver Stolpe, the UNODC Country Representative remarked “together with the community oriented policing training and the roll out of the Line Up Live Up life skill training for youth, these interventions will help to empower the benefitting communities to shape their security environment going forward.”
The intervention also already started to develop catalytic effects by motivating the State Government to invest in an expansion of the garri production and a refurbishing one of the dilapidated school buildings, in addition to the deployment of additional police officers by the Commissioner of Police of Bayelsa State.
Dr. Stolpe expressed gratitude to the German Government for their support and extended appreciation to Governor Senator Douye Diri and the Bayelsa State Government for their unwavering support and commissioning of the project. Dr. Stolpe highlighted that Bayelsa State was selected for the pilot project due to its unique context and vulnerability to piracy and other criminal activities, with a focus on addressing the root causes and preventing youth involvement in organized crime.
The projects were officially commissioned on July 5, 2023, by Governor Senator Douye Diri, with Her Excellency the German Ambassador, Ms. Annett Gunther, and other esteemed guests in attendance. The people of Otuan community expressed their deep gratitude to the UNODC, the German Government, the Bayelsa State Governor, the state government, and the security agencies for their contributions to the successful completion of these projects.

News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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