Controversy in Rivers as LG chairmen’s tenures expire

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Rivers State is on edge as the tenure of local government chairmen expires today, June 17, at midnight, with the chairmen refusing to leave office despite Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s warnings.

The chairmen, under the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), are relying on a controversial law passed by the State 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, insisted, “The law by the House of Assembly empowers us to remain in office.” However, Governor Fubara has maintained that the law is illegal and has warned the chairmen against taking any action that could disrupt the state’s peace.

Youths in Degema and Asari-Toru Local Government Areas have taken matters into their own hands, occupying council secretariats and demanding the chairmen’s exit. The youths, who were seen singing war songs and chanting, “He is a failure. You must go!” have vowed to remain until Wednesday, daring the chairmen to return to the secretariat.

In Degema, the youths locked the entrance to the secretariat and mounted a barricade in front of the gate, while in Asari-Toru, hundreds of youths stormed the council headquarters, occupying the facility and blocking the road leading to the entrance.

The situation is tense, with a heavy security presence in Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor LGAs. Over six police patrol vans were stationed in front of the shut secretariat entrance, manned by fierce-looking security operatives. However, movements of people are not restricted.

Outgoing Eleme LGA Chairman, Obarilomate Ollor, has warned those trying to remove him from office, saying, “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.”

The stalemate continues, with the potential for further unrest as the chairmen refuse to budge and the youths maintain their occupation of the secretariats. The situation remains volatile, with the state government and the chairmen locked in a power struggle that could have far-reaching consequences.