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Tenure controversy: Tension in Rivers as police, youths occupy LG Secretariats

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Youths take over Rivers LG Secretariat

Published By: Ayorinde Oluokun

*State Govt.,Police keep mum on state of affairs in LGAs

By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Security operatives, youth groups and others stakeholders are taking over the Secretariat of local governments across Rivers State as the tenure of the chairpersons expired today, Monday, 17 June.

Some of the local government chairpersons who are mostly loyalists of former governor Nyesom Wike had earlier vowed not to vacate office at the end of their three-year tenure today.

They are relying on the extension of their tenure by six months by the Rivers House of Assembly.

However, Governor Siminalayi Fubara has never hidden his determination to sweep the council chairpersons, some of who have been openly disrespected him, out of office.

Indeed, the youths and political leaders who are taking over the local government Secretariats are obviously loyalists of Fubara.

For instace a Rep member, Miss Boma Goodhead who led some youths to take over the Asari-Toru local government Secretariat in Buguma on Monday morning is a loyalist of the governor.

The youths are still occupying the Secretariat as at the time of writing this story.

Some reports indicated that the Chairman of the local government, Hon. Onengiyeofori George fled for safety as the youths stormed the council secretariat

In the same vein, a group of youths also occupied the Secretariat of Degema Local government, insisting that the Chairman Michael John Williams and his councillors must go as their tenure had expired.

There was visible security beef up in Port Harcourt City and Obio-Akpor local government council Secretariat with Police vans deployed to prevent breakdown of law and order.

There were reports of similar deployment of police vans at Ogu-Bolo local government Secretariat

However, in an obviously defiant posture, the chairman of Emohua local government area, Dr. Chidi Lloyd said his administration will begin the distribution of farming equipment such as machetes, files , etc , to farmers across the 14 wards in the local government area from Tuesday, June 18, 2024 at the council secretariat in Emohua.

In press statement issued by Bright Jossy-Elendu, his Chief Press Secretary, Lloyd said the gesture is in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, to enhance agriculture and ensure food security .

He said the Tuesday distribution will be for farmers from ward 1 to 7 , while wards 8 to 14 will have their turn on Wednesday the 19th.

On his part,the Executive chairman of Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers state, Hon. Obarilomate Ollor have warned those who have threatened and are ganging up to use force to take over the council secretariat come June 17th, 2024 to stay off.

Interestingly, the Council Chairmen of Opobo-Nkoro and Bonny local government areas have already held a valeditory thanksgiving service ahead of their vacation of office.

The Rt. Hon . Martin Amaewhule led Rivers State House of Assembly through the amended Rivers State Local Government Administration law 2024 had extended the tenure of the LG chairmen by 6 months.

However, Rivers State High Court had declared the extension of the tenure of Local Government Chairmen invalid.

Justice D.G Kio declared that Local Government Law No. 2 of 2024, which sought to extend the Chairmen’s terms by six months, conflicts with the 1999 Constitution and Section 9, subsection one of the Rivers State Local Government Law No. 5 of 2018. The court affirmed that the lawful tenure for Local Government Chairmen and Councillors remains three years, as stipulated by the 2018 law.

At the time of filing this report, there has not been any official statement from the Rivers State Government if Caretaker Committees will be appointed for the councils pending when local government elections will be conducted to fill the vacancies.

The Rivers State Police Command has also not issued explanation for the deployment of policeman to Council Secretariats.

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