June 24, 2024

Pro-Wike LGA chairmen, supporters protest, back police barricade of council secretariats

Pro-Wike LGA chairmen, supporters protest, back police barricade of council secretariats

By Davies Iheamnachor

The Local Government Area Chairmen in Rivers State who are contesting tenure elongation and their loyalists have stormed their various council secretariats in protest to back the police occupation of the 23 local government council secretariats in the state.

The peaceful protest largely was to support the police and urging them to sustain the ongoing barricade of the secretariats pending the decision of the Court of Appeal on Speaker Martins Amaewhule-led House of Assembly, to avoid breakdown of law and order in the state.

The protest held across the 21 local government areas of the state in spite of earlier police order stopping all forms of protests in the state.

In Ikwerre LGA, Dr. Samuel Nwanosike, who led the protester to the police barricade in from of the council at Isiokpo said he is the duly elected chairman of the council, telling the Police Area Commander of Ikwerre LGA, who is leading the police occupation that the supports would not disobey the police.

Nwanosike said they decided to embark on the peaceful demonstration following information that some labour leaders had mobilised to harass the police out of the council.

He claimed that the failure of the governor of the state to conduct LGA elections prompted the Martins Amaewhule-led House of Assembly to amend the law granting six-month tenure elongation to the elected chairmen.

He said: “I am still serving this council. Today I have five months and 25 days remaining in office by the laws made by Martins Amaewhule-led House of Assembly.

“We got credible information that those, who are members of the caretaker committees in the name of civil servants and who want to be judges in their own matters, had gone to connive with hoodlums to come and intimidate and harass the police to leave the council.

“Nothing on earth will make us break the laws of Nigeria and nothing on earth will make us disobey your orders. We have been patient with the Nigerian police even when it hurts us we still understand that the Constitution is the grund norm and the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.

“If the judiciary had said all parties should maintain the status quo, we don’t think it will be reasonable for NULGE to come and disobey the order of the Inspector-General of Police and the state Commissioner of Police.

“We are not here to foment trouble, but if they want to take their luck too far, we are here to state that we own this council. Our Governor refused to conduct elections as provided by law and you know in governance there is no vacuum. We are here to state that as long those miscreants don’t come here we will continue to stand by the side eat and drink.”

In Obio-Akpor, Barr. George Ariolu, who also insisted that he remained the authentic chairman of the LGA pending the judgement of court on tenure elongation, led residents of the council to the police barricades.

Ariolus said: “We are democrats and we must defend this democracy. The beauty of democracy is the rule of law. That is what we stand to defend. We are not going to relent from doing this.

“The police are here to maintain law and order. Their constitutional duty is to protect lives and properties, so when we heard that some people wanted to come and cause mayhem, we decided to say we won’t stand, fold our arms and see it happen.

“The matters are already in court. Why the desperation? Why not wait until the court of competent jurisdiction takes its position? Why are you taking actions that will likely destroy lives and properties?

“We are saying no to that. We are in support of the police. This is why we are patiently waiting for the outcome of the decision of the appeal court. If we had not raised the alarm, the labour leaders would have carried out their planned actions today.”

In Asari-Toru LGA, Onengiyeofori George, who continued to lay claims to tenure elongation, alongside his supporters marched through the streets Buguma Town singing songs of solidarity with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Chief Nyesom Wike.

At Port Harcourt City LGA secretariat, the hundreds of protesters, men and women commended the police for remaining neutral in discharging their duties.

Speaking, Kingsley Owhondah one of the coordinators said: “We are Rivers people and as you can see this is a harmless and an armless protest. The police have asked everybody to steer clear of the council premises. We got information that there are people who are trying to protest and ask the police to leave the gate, but we are saying no.

“The matter before the court is going to be decided soon. When that matter is decided, whoever is supposed to be in the council, should go to the council. So what we are saying is that the police should remain and maintain peace and order. As you can see, we are peaceful and law abiding. What we are doing is to ensure that democracy survives in Rivers.

Owhondah, however, enjoined the police to keep to their words and ensure no one gained access to the council premises pending the decision of the court.

Mrs Rose Wori said: “We are here to make peace and order, we want peace in our state, we want peace in our LGAs. We the women of Rivers State have come to tell the police to stay until court decides what happens next”.