Politics

Rivers: Protests as IG extends LG secretariats’ barricade

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The Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun on Thursday, said that his officers would stay on the Rivers State Local Government secretariats till the courtroom guidelines on the native authorities chairmen tenure extension disaster within the state.

A conflict occurred on Tuesday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, over the tenure of Local Government Council Chairmen, ensuing within the deaths of a police officer and a vigilante member.

The three-year phrases of the 23 LG chairmen ended on Monday, however they insisted on staying in workplace, citing the Local Government Amendment Law 2024 enacted by the Martin Amaewhule-led House of Assembly.

This regulation, handed by 27 lawmakers loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital, Nyesom Wike, permits the chairmen to stay in workplace for six extra months because of the failure of Governor Siminalayi Fubara to carry native authorities elections.

On Wednesday, Fubara swore in 23 caretaker committee chairmen in Port Harcourt to man LGs. This was after protesting youths dislodged the LG chairmen whose tenure expired on Monday.

However, the police denied Fubara caretaker chairmen entry to their workplaces throughout the LGAs.

This was following an announcement by the state police command on Tuesday that it had taken management of all LG council headquarters to forestall additional bloodshed and keep regulation and order.

Speaking throughout a gathering with commanders in Abuja, the IGP said that the barricades would stay till the courtroom reached a call on the matter.

The IG famous that this was to forestall additional lack of lives.

He mentioned, “You are all conscious that in what occurred two, three days in the past, we misplaced a police inspector. We are unhappy about that. We don’t need to lose extra males.

“We don’t need to lose extra Nigerians. We don’t need to lose extra residents of Rivers State. So, we have now an obligation to forestall the breakdown of regulation and order.

“And that’s why we have our men taking over the secretariat while we await the outcome of the case in court. As soon as the court makes its pronouncement, we will remove the barricade.”

Rivers not below siege –Fubara

But Rivers Governor, Fubara, insisted on Thursday that there was no disaster within the state.

He mentioned the narrative that Rivers was enmeshed in disaster was unfaithful.

According to a press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Nelson Chukwudi, Fubara spoke to some newsmen in Egbelu Community, shortly after inspecting the progress of labor on the 14.6km Omodu-Eberi Road venture in Omuma Local Government Area on Thursday.

He said: “And to additionally inform Nigerians that Rivers State is peaceable. You can see that we’re transferring about inspecting initiatives as in opposition to what you see on the screens of your tv units that police are in all places, that we don’t transfer about anymore, and that Rivers State is below siege.

“We are not under siege. Our State is free and peaceful. If at all there is any problem in any part of the state, I know quite well that Nigerians know where the problem is coming from, not from us.”

He added, “We are a peace-loving individuals. It is already written throughout us. Our actions and our deeds have confirmed that we’re peace-loving individuals.

“We will continue to maintain the peace that we promised everyone, for the betterment of the good people of Rivers State.”

NULGE, CSOs fume

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The President of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, disagreed with the place of the IG that policemen would proceed to man the LG secretariats.

Okaba mentioned  “The IG directive that the police must be there, effectively perhaps from one perspective you might say that the police has no enterprise barricading the place significantly now that the governor has put in place a caretaker committee, which, although not within the structure is sort of a norm in Nigeria; different states have completed the identical factor as an interim measure earlier than elections are performed into councils.

“Yes, once more for this reason we have now been speaking concerning the independence of the police. The structure says the governor is the Chief Security Officer of the place. The Commissioner of Police ought to have taken orders from the governor. Now he takes orders from the IG which once more defines the sort of democracy and separation of powers we function on this nation.

“So, in all, it’s a misnomer, which is sort of changing into a norm within the nation we discover ourselves. I really feel we must be very cautious with what’s going on.

“It may be very provocative if not correctly managed can result in bloodshed and all of that, and people are the issues I’ve warned in opposition to. So it’s now left for stakeholders on the state, federal ranges to take a seat down collectively and search for a manner out of all of this mess. I name it a really messy scenario.

“If you barricade the councils and all that, the governor can institute any place and make it an office of the council. He can even create council areas within the Government House. So this show of force does not stop the governor from going ahead to do what he wants to do.”

Okaba known as on the President to intervene within the Rivers disaster.

Similarly,  the Chairman of the Rivers State Civil Society Organisation, Enefaa Georgewill, mentioned the stance of the IG confirmed that “the police have already put themselves in the arena by trying to be an interpreter of court judgments.”

He mentioned, “Whether we prefer it or not, there may be subsisting courtroom judgment as of now by a excessive courtroom that’s but to be reversed and the place of the excessive courtroom is that the native authorities chairman’s tenure has expired and that the House of Assembly doesn’t have the facility to increase the constitutionally assured tenure of LGA chairmen. That is the place of the courtroom as of at this time, till it’s reversed by any courtroom.

“Furthermore, past what a courtroom has even mentioned, our legal guidelines are equally very clear, that the Rivers State House of Assembly or another House of Assembly, for that matter in Nigeria, lacks the facility to stretch the three-year tenure of any native authorities space. So, you start to surprise the place the IG or the Commissioner of Police now acquired their very own energy to say that they’re making a stalemate?

“We would want to warn that the police shouldn’t create situations where civil organisations like ours and other interest groups would have to move into the streets to demand that the police remove themselves from the political arena of Rivers state and obey a subsisting court judgment and equally respect our constitution that says that every local government chairman is supposed to stay for three years. Anything outside this, we will be left with no choice than to begin to mobilise our affiliates and other interest groups and to move to the streets of Port Harcourt and Abuja.”

In an analogous vein, the River State chapter of the National Union of Local Government Employees mentioned it had issued a four-day ultimatum for the police to vacate the LGA secretariats, saying its members can be compelled to take to the streets afterwards.

The Rivers NULGE  President, Clifford Paul, who spoke to our correspondent on the phone, mentioned, “We have made a press release asking the Rivers State Police Command to reopen the gates for the employees as a result of after the dissolution of the LG councils by the manager governor of the state, since then, all of the gates of the 23 LG councils have been and there’s no manner my staff shall be outdoors or shall be absenting themselves from work.

“So, we are requesting that the needful has to be done. They should vacate the gates so that we can access our premises. We are giving them a four-day ultimatum and after the four days, as a union, I will reserve that comment.”

Also,  the Human Rights Advocacy Crusaders, on Thursday, known as on regulation enforcement brokers, significantly the Nigerian Police, to not get partisan within the Rivers scenario.

In a press release on Thursday by its Convener, Jerry Nicholas, the group mentioned taking sides may result in additional violence and clashes between supporters of various events, leading to deaths and destruction of property.

 Nicholas mentioned, “The regulation is obvious: The 1999 Constitution and Section 9(1) of the Rivers State Local Government Law No 5 of 2018 present for a three-year tenure for native authorities chairmen, with a chance of a second time period.

“We hereby inform the safety brokers that Law No.2 of 2024, which tried to increase the tenure of the outgoing chairmen by six months has been expunged from the legal guidelines of Rivers State by Justice D.G. Kio of the state excessive courtroom.

“This signifies that the outgoing chairmen can’t depend on a non-existent regulation to proceed in workplace.

“We reiterate that security agents must remain neutral and not take sides with any party. They must also prevent violence and maintain peace in Rivers State while allowing the democratic process to unfold, and ensuring that the rule of law is upheld.”

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