June 23, 2009

Rivers’ LG begs JTF to remain

By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT— AKOKU TORU Local Government Area in Rivers State has appealed to the Joint Task Force not to pull out of the area.

Chairman of the local government, Mr. Paul Awoyesuku, who made the appeal, said the security outfit had helped to stabilize the security situation in the area.

It would be recalled that the headquarters of the council, Abonnema, at a time became a hotbed of cultism and other related militant activities in the state.

Scores of youths from the area lost their lives to incessant cult clashes, and this situation continued until the JTF moved into the area to calm the place.

The council boss, who spoke on an occasion to celebrate 2009 Development Day in Abonnema, said he was elated to see that residents and natives of the local government were now free to move about.

For him, any move to pull out the security outfit from the region should not extend to his local government.

“The soldiers have been professional in their conduct. They have lived very well with us,” he said, adding that the council was taking steps to re-orientate, reform and rehabilitate deviant youths from the area.

In an earlier interaction with news men in Port Harcourt , the chairman had absolved himself of allegations of abuse of public funds levelled against him by seven out of the seventeen councillors of the local government, saying  the allegations were all lies.

He said in the last one year, he had spent nothing less than N400 million on capital projects, and noted that this was outside running cost, such as salaries and procurement of diesel to run two plants that generate power for Abonnema town.

Awoyesuku said it was also not true that the legislative house forfeited some of its allowances for a proposed secretariat project.

According to him, all their allowances were running, adding that the only one left was the severance allowance which was only paid to councillors at the end of their tenure.

On the allegation that he wanted a loan of N200 million from a bank to finance the building of a secretariat for the local government, Awoyesuku said the money had not been collected.

He said the council and the embittered legislators had agreed that the bank should be approached to partner with the council to build the secretariat, expressing surprise that the legislators twisted the story.

He said he only wanted the secretariat project because it was sad to note that the council still operates from a temporary structure.