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Tenure: Tension in Rivers as Police take over LG secretariats

There was tension across the 23 local government areas of Rivers state over the tenure of the council chairmen, which expired, Monday, June 17 as the police have taken over the council secretariats to prevent the breakdown of law and order.

Blueprint learnt that, at Degema local government area secretariat, youth were seen blocking the main entrance, chanting songs in solidarity and demanding the leave of the council chairman, Michael John Williams from office.

The youth vowed to remain at the gate till Wednesday to stop Williams and other elected officials from gaining access to their offices.

They insisted that their three-year tenure ended on June 17 and that they should not be seen around the secretariat after the Sallah holiday.

The youths were heard chanting “Chairman must go”, as others arrived the gate to join them.

Same scenario played out at Asari-Toru local government secretariat where youths barricaded the gate to stop their LGA chairman, Mr. Onengi Ofori, was forced out of office by irate youths numbering about 100, who shut down the council secretariat.  

But at the Port Harcourt City LGA, over four patrol vans with policemen were seen keeping vigil at the gate to prevent possible breakdown of law and order.

There were indications that Rivers governor, Siminialayi Fubara, had sent a list of caretaker committees to the lawmakers, led by the factional Speaker Victor Oko-Jumbo.

The Rivers state LG chairmen were voted into office in 2021. 

Constitutionally, the tenure of all the elected local government council chairmen ended Monday 17, 2024. 

…IPAC urges orderly transition  

And to avoid a lingering crisis in the state, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has urged the affected local government chairmen to prepare their hand over notes and ensure a smooth transition of power.

In a statement Monday in Port Harcourt, signed by Rivers state chairman lPAC, Mr. Sensei Osaro, the Council warned miscreants seeking to exploit the current political situation in the state to stay away from the council headquarters.

IPAC warned that, any attempt to disrupt the the peace of any local government area would be met with lawful resistance from the members.

“We call on the Executive Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency Sir Siminalayi Fubara, GSSRS to immediately inaugurate Caretaker Committees to ensure continuity of governance at the local government area level.

“IPAC members are prepared to defend democracy at the LGA level and ensure that the rule of law is upheld. We also commend the Appeal Court Panel for their ‘Solomonic’ ruling, which has paved the way for a peaceful transition.

“We urge all stakeholders to cooperate with the Caretaker Committees that would be inaugurated to ensure a seamless transition and maintain the trust of the people in our democratic institutions.

We hereby restate our commitment to join hands with the State Government under the leadership of His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, GSSRS, to deepen democracy for the delivery of dividends to Rivers people in a peaceful atmosphere,” the statement said.

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