By CHIDI NKWOPARA
OWERRI—Traffic was held up yesterday in all the major roads of Owerri municipality, following the peaceful demonstration staged by embattled chairmen and councillors sacked by Governor Rochas Okorocha on assumption of office.
The embattled local council operators, who were acting under the umbrella of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, assembled at the State Headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, along Okigwe Road before taking off on the peaceful march.
Some of the placards carried by the song-chanting council chairmen and councillors read: “Okorocha, respect the rule of law” and “Local government administration must not die in Imo”.
The protesters’ train glided through the ever busy Owerri-Okigwe federal highway to Maria Assumpta Roundabout through Library Roundabout, which is close to Government House.
Addressing newsmen later, the anger-stricken Chairman of Ngor Okpala local council area, who doubles as ALGON Secretary, Chief Enyinnaya Onuegbu, explained that the protest was a reaction to the state government’s refusal to obey the Court of Appeal judgment.
“We are protesting the continued refusal of Governor Rochas Okorocha to obey the subsisting July 6, 2012 judgment of the Court of Appeal, which restored the status of elected local government council administration in the state,” Onuegbu explained.
The ALGON secretary said they were equally irked that the governor had continued to misappropriate local council allocations of over N80 billion.
Onuegbu faulted what he termed “the continued release and spending of local government allocations to the state government without joint allocation committee meeting.”
ALGON insisted that Governor Okorocha must be made to obey the rule of law, even as they passionately appealed to the federal government to urgently intervene in the matter.
No official of the state government, including the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Chinedu Offor, could be reached on their mobile phones because they remained switched off at press time.
Vanguard recalls that Okorocha had, in his New Year message, said the tenure of the elected council bosses had expired, stressing that his administration will organise a fresh local government election this year.