June 17, 2024

Tension in Rivers as LG chairmen’s tenures expire; youths storm hqtrs

Tension in Rivers as LG chairmen’s tenures expire; youths storm secretariats

File image of Fubara (left) and Wike

By Daniel Abia

There is tension across some of the twenty-three local government areas in Rivers state as the tenure of the council chairmen expires today, June 17, by midnight.

The tension was ignited by the decision of the LG chairmen in the state under the aegis of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria to remain in office citing the Local Government Amendment Law No 2 of the 2024 by the Martin Amaewhule-led 27 House of Assembly members extending their tenure by six months.

The State ALGON Chairman, Allwell Ihunda, who is also the Chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, insisted that the law by the House of Assembly empowers them to remain in office.

It will be recalled that the Law by the lawmakers loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, empowers the council chairmen to remain in office over the alleged failure of Governor Siminalayi Fubara to conduct local government elections.

Only last month, Governor Fubara at an event in Port Harcourt had warned the LG chairmen not to do anything that would truncate the peace of the state, saying they have a few days to leave office.

At a press conference last week, the embattled former Speaker Amaewhule had warned Governor Fubara against nominating caretaker committee members to fill vacant positions in the 23 councils of the state, saying the lawmakers will not accept such a move.

The outgoing council chairmen, who were elected during the tenure of Wike as governor have been having a running battle with the latter’s successor, Governor Fubara, following the disagreement between the two political leaders, even as they have vetoed the Governor to enact about six laws.

Youths protest

Against this backdrop, youths in Degema early on Monday occupied the council secretariat, locked the entrance and mounted in front of the gate.

Youths invade

The youths, who were seen singing war songs, appeared battle ready as they insisted that they would not allow the chairmen to remain in office after serving out their tenure.

They said they will remain there to ensure the outgoing local government chairman does not return to the council.

Singing in their local dialects, the youths chorused that the council chairman has failed, saying, “He is a failure. You must go’.

At Asari-Toru Local Government Area, hundreds of youths stormed the council headquarters in Degema and occupied the facility.

Many of the youths were seen in different groups in front of the secretariat and the entire stretch of the road leading to the entrance, even as some could be heard saying, ‘Asawana’ a popular slang among the Ijaws which signifies solidarity, even as others arrive the scene in droves.

The youths said they will remain until Wednesday when work resumes and dared the council chairmen to come to the secretariat.

But in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area and Obio/Akpor LGA, there was a huge security presence to prevent any security breaches.

Over six police patrol vans in front of the shut entrance of the secretariat on Monday morning. The patrol vans were manned by fierce-looking security operatives but movements of people are not restricted.

The outgoing chairman of Eleme LGA, Obarilomate Ollor, has warned those eager to throw him out of office not to come close to the council, saying they will be resisted.

Ollor, while addressing stakeholders at the first Annual General Meeting of the Aleto Clan Association held in Port Harcourt said he had gotten wind of plans to invade the council on June 17th, and threatened to unleash terror on such invaders.

 “Some people are ganging up, they want to use force to enter into the local government. Let me tell you, the local government is not a community town hall or students union secretariat.

“That is a government facility. So stay away from there except the law permits you to go there.”

Vanguard News