Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi on Tuesday signed into law a bill empowering the state-owned security outfit to arrest ballot box snatchers during elections.
Our correspondent reports that the law, entitled “Law 009 0f 2018”, was among the six laws presented to Umahi by the state’s House of Assembly for his assent.
Five of them were executive bills, while one was a private-member bill.
Speaking after signing the bill, the governor said that the law was important for the overall security of lives and property in the state.
“The law empowers members of the security outfit to demobilise and arrest thugs, who usually disrupt elections by snatching ballot boxes,” he said.
He added that those arrested should be handed over to security agencies for further investigation and prosecution.
The governor said that the neighbourhood security watch would help to strengthen the security apparatus in the state.
“One will not understand this statement unless the bad people visit such person but we pray it does not happen to any citizen of the state no matter his party affiliation,” he said.
Umahi also spoke on the propriety of the Law on internally generated revenue, entitled “Law 011”, saying that it would help to boost the revenue profile of the state.
“When we say that our people should not pay tax, everyone will start jubilating and commending my administration but we are digging our graves.
“This is because no investor will like to come in without seeing the revenue index of the state,” the governor said.
He noted that his interest was to ensure that only taxable adults were made to pay tax.
“A lot of us are not paying tax and I believe strongly that this law will help to check tax evasion and also bring to book fake tax collectors, destroying the image of the state,” he said.
He urged prospective members of the revenue board to understand that the law provided outright imprisonment without an option of fine for any of them found guilty of defrauding the state.
Umahi urged members of the State Executive Council to study the new laws and make them available for the citizenry to improve on governance in the state.
Also, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Francis Nwifuru, said that the members painstakingly considered the bills before passing them in order to ensure that they served the peoples’ interest.
Nwifuru, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Chief Obasi Odefa, said the neighbourhood watch was designed to complement the work of security agencies in the state.
He said that the reduction in crime following the establishment of the neighbourhood watch made it imperative to give the outfit legal backing.
“This is to ensure that their activities become lawful so that the members will operate without fear of being arrested, intimidated or imprisoned for doing legitimate work,” he said.
He described the law on IGR as quite expedient, given the poor revenue profile of the state which, he said, currently stood at less than N28 million monthly.
Also, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, said that the six laws would bring positive improvement in all sectors of the state and ensure better life for its people.