Governor Fubara replaces 23 Rivers LG council bosses


Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara has directed heads of local government administration to take charge of the 23 council areas of the state.

This follows yesterday’s expiration of the statutory three-year tenure of the elected chairmen, vice chairmen and councillors, reports The Nation.

Fubara gave the directive this morning in a statewide broadcast.

The governor said: “ Heads of Local Government Administration (HLGAs) are hereby directed to immediately take charge of the councils with renewed vigour and readiness to serve and await further directives as we navigate towards even greater accomplishments together.

“As we move forward in making sure that the constitution is upheld, and that law and order are maintained as we continue to strive to provide leadership and direction for our people, I hereby direct heads HLGAs to continue to provide leadership in their respective local government areas.”

He thanked the elected chairmen and councilors for their service which, according to him, expired yesterday.

Rivers local government area transition crisis hots up

A major transition crisis has hit the 23 local governments in Rivers State.

Yesterday, Degema and Asari-Toru councils were enveloped by anxiety as youths took over the secretariats, following the expiration of the tenure of chairmen, councillors and other council officials.

Youths who blocked Degema council secretariat vowed to remain there till tomorrow as they burst into solidarity songs, demanding the exit of the Chairman, Michael John Williams.

According to the protesters, the three-year tenure of the chairman had expired on June 17.

At Asari-Toru Local Government Secretariat, youths barricaded the gate to stop their chairman and officials from gaining access to the premises.

Fears were rife that the mounting tension may degenerate into violence in the oil-rich state.

At the Port Harcourt City Council, four patrol vans of policemen were seen keeping vigil at the gate to prevent breakdown of law and order.

Police vowed to dislodge the troublemakers, saying that the court order on status quo should be obeyed by parties in the dispute.

The chairmen have insisted on remaining in office, citing the court ruling in the case involving the Martins Amaewhule-led House of Assembly and the three man House led by Victor Oko-Jumbo.

However, Niger Delta activist Asari Dokubo asked the council chairmen to quit, saying that their tenures had expired.

Rivers State had slided into crisis, following the court order recognising the three-man House of Assembly, which quashed the extention of the chairmen’s tenure granted by the 27-member Assembly.

Governor Siminalayi Fubara had maintained that the council chairmen should leave on June 17, saying that the tenure extention was unconstitutional.

However, the chairmen insisted that their tenures had been extended and vowed to continue in office after a High Court sitting in Port-Harcourt, the state capital, ruled that the 27 lawmakers have not defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

There was apprehension as armed youths, suspected to be surveillance workers, were seen in a viral video parading the creeks of riverine local councils.

Tension rose following hints that the governor has sent names of the seven-man caretaker committees for each council to Oko-Jumbo-led lawmakers for screening.

An unidentified leader of joint task force on anti-bunkering in the Southsouth was seen threatening fire and brimstone in another viral video.

He said he came home with half of his armed men to take over the 23 local government areas, adding that he wanted to escort the caretaker committees members to their various councils.

He drew a battle line with the outgoing chairman of the Ikwerre Local Government Area, Samuel Nwanosike, who had earlier vowed not to vacate his office after June 17.

He said: “We are preparing and we are about to take over the local government areas on Wednesday (tomorrow). We are taking over the 23 local government areas. Let them wait for us. We are coming.

“We will be escorting every local government caretaker. My business is to work for the government and relate with the government to fight crime. I work with the joint task force. I am in charge of anti-bunkering in the Southsouth.

“I am back home with half of my men. We are getting ready for Wednesday. Let all the caretaker get ready to host my boys too. The Chairman of Ikwerre should wait for me.

“I volunteer to come to Ikwerre, wait for us. If your head is hot, we will pour it cold water and it will be cool so that you learn how to respect elders and authority especially the number one citizen”.

The police asked the parties to obey the Court of Appeal order on status quo, vowing to secure lives and properties in the state.

The Rivers State Police Commissioner, Olatunji Disu, who sent officers and operatives to monitor the councils, assured residents of their safety.

He urged parents to call their children to order, saying that anyone found breaking the law would face the punishment.

Disu said parents should warn their children against getting involved in the crisis to avoid being used as cannon fodders.

He said: “My job as a policeman is to protect lives and property. And that is what we have gone out to do since morning.

“We are aware of the crisis that has to do with the tenure of the local government chairmen and we have gotten one court order or the other, and the Court of Appeal has given an order for everybody to exercise restraints till the 20th of this month, just three days.

“So, we expect everybody to respect it and not take laws into their hands and allow peace to continue as it is.”

Disu maintained that the police will work round the clock to safeguard the lives and property of residents of the state.

He said: “Sincerely, you know our officers have been out for the past three days. I just finished addressing them and I thank them for the good job they have done and because they have been out since 4a.m, and they just came back.

“We are not taking it lightly. We are ready to go. Our officers have been on a show of force and we have had additional men given to us from the headquarters, the equipment has been serviced and we are ready to go.

“This is just to assure members of the public that so far as we are concerned, we are ready to do our jobs of protecting lives and property.

“We have warned anybody who would want to take laws into their hands. I want to use this opportunity to talk to parents to call their children to order and talk to them so that their children will not be used as cannon folds in this crisis.

“Everything that has to do with government property and every human being in this community would be protected.”

Chairmen must quit, says Dokubo

Dokubo advised the chairmen to embrace the reality that their tenures had ended and desist from creating crisis.

Dokubo, who spoke during the Sallah solidarity visit by the Muslim community to Fubara, said tenure elongation was an aberration to the constitution.

He said: “Local Government tenure has expired today, 17th June 2024. They should quietly go home. If they want to seek re-election in accordance with the constitution, they should go and seek re-election.

“But there is no tenure elongation in the constitution. Their position is tenure bound, and that tenure has expired.

“Let them not cause unnecessary problems for the people of the state. And I want to advise young people, that look, don’t allow yourselves to be used.”

Dokubo said the youths should protect the state against self-seeking individuals, who thought it was their private estate.

He said: “The people are showing people’s power. The people have gone on their own to take over local government secretariat because it is about the people, and nobody can say that we voted for three years tenure for a chairman and the chairman should exceed one second of that tenure.”

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