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TROUBLE LOOMS IN RIVERS: LG Chairmen’s Tenures Expire, Youths Storm Headquarters | READ DETAILS

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Rivers State is witnessing heightened tension as the tenures of local government chairmen expire, leading to youth protests and increased security measures. The situation stems from the ongoing political disagreements and recent legislative changes.

 

Tension is escalating across several of the twenty-three local government areas in Rivers State as the tenures of the council chairmen expire today, June 17, at midnight.

 

The tension has been fueled by the decision of the local government chairmen in the state, under the aegis of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), to remain in office. They cite the Local Government Amendment Law No. 2 of 2024, enacted by the Martin Amaewhule-led 27-member House of Assembly, which extends their tenure by six months.

 

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

 

It is noteworthy that this law, supported by lawmakers loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, allows the council chairmen to stay in office due to Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s failure to conduct local government elections.

 

Just last month, Governor Fubara, during an event in Port Harcourt, warned the LG chairmen not to engage in actions that could disrupt the state’s peace, emphasizing that their tenure was nearing its end.

 

In a press conference last week, the former Speaker, Amaewhule, cautioned Governor Fubara against appointing caretaker committee members to fill the vacant positions in the 23 councils, stating that the lawmakers would not accept such appointments.

 

The outgoing council chairmen, elected during Wike’s tenure as governor, have been in a continuous struggle with Governor Fubara, following disagreements between the two political figures. This conflict has led to the enactment of six laws vetoed by the Governor.

 

Youth Protests

Against this backdrop, youths in Degema early on Monday occupied the council secretariat, locked the entrance, and positioned themselves in front of the gate. Singing war songs, the youths appeared prepared for confrontation, insisting they would not allow the chairmen to remain in office after their tenures expired.

 

Chanting in their local dialects, the youths declared that the council chairman had failed, with slogans like, “He is a failure. You must go.”

 

In Asari-Toru Local Government Area, hundreds of youths stormed the council headquarters in Degema, occupying the facility. Groups of youths gathered in front of the secretariat and along the road leading to the entrance, chanting “Asawana,” a popular slang among the Ijaws signifying solidarity.

 

The youths vowed to stay until Wednesday, when work resumes, daring the council chairmen to come to the secretariat.

 

However, in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area and Obio/Akpor LGA, a substantial security presence was observed to prevent any breaches of peace. Over six police patrol vans, manned by stern-looking security operatives, were stationed in front of the shut entrance of the secretariat on Monday morning. Despite the security measures, movements of people were not restricted.

 

The outgoing chairman of Eleme LGA, Obarilomate Ollor, warned those attempting to force him out of office to stay away from the council, threatening resistance.

 

Addressing stakeholders at the first Annual General Meeting of the Aleto Clan Association in Port Harcourt, Ollor revealed plans to invade the council on June 17th and warned of severe consequences for any such actions.

 

“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,” Ollor stated.

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