Youths storm Rivers LG secretariats, protest chairmen’s tenure extension

Following the expiration of the tenure of the local government chairmen in Rivers State, some youths in the Degema Local Government Area of the state on Monday took over the council headquarters.
This came as LG chairmen in the state under the aegis of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria have vowed to remain in office, citing the Local Government Amendment Law by the Martin Amaewhule-led 27 House of Assembly members empowering them to extend their tenure by six months.
The state ALGON Chairman, Allwell Ihunda, who is the Chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, insisted that the law by the House of Assembly empowers them to remain in office.
Recall 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.
Fubara, at an event in Port Harcourt, the state capital, warned the LG chairmen not to do anything that would truncate the peace of the state, saying they had a few days to leave office.
Amaewhule, at a news briefing last week, warned the governor against setting up caretaker committees to fill vacant positions in the 23 LGs of the state, saying the lawmakers would not accept such a move.
The council chairmen who were elected during the tenure of Wike as governor have been having a running battle with Fubara following the disagreement between the two political leaders.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that youths in Degema occupied the council secretariat early on Monday and locked the entrance.
The youth who were seen singing war songs appeared battle-ready as they insisted that they would not allow the LG chairmen to remain in office after serving out their tenure, saying they would remain there to ensure the outgoing LG chairman does not return to the council.
The same scenario is playing out in the Asari-Toru Local Government Area, where youths stormed the council headquarters in Degema and occupied the facility.
Many of the youth 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 youth said they would remain until Wednesday when work resumes and dared the council chairmen to come to the secretariat.
However, there is a huge security presence in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area and Obio/Akpor LG to prevent security breaches.
Newsmen spotted over six police patrol vans in front of the secretariat’s closed entrance on Monday morning.
The patrol vans were manned by fierce-looking security operatives, although the movements of people were not restricted.
Meanwhile, the outgoing chairman of Eleme LG, 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, 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 17.
He urged those who do not have legitimate businesses at the council headquarters not to come close, pointing out that the LG council is neither a community town hall nor a students’ union facility.
Ollor stated, “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. If you go there against the law, what you will see, you will not believe it. You will see your forefathers’ earlier than you expected.
“So don’t go there if you are not meant to go there. You can stay in a hotel and make noise, but don’t go there.”

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