Rivers crisis: Cop killed as youths dislodge pro-Wike LG chairmen


The crisis in Rivers State on Tuesday worsened over the tenure of 23 local government chairmen as protesting youths loyal to the state Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, dislodged no fewer than three chairmen who refused to vacate their offices.

A policeman was killed at Eberi-Omuma in the Omuma Local Government Council secretariat during a clash between supporters of Fubara and his predecessor, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.

To prevent a breakdown of law and order, the police on Tuesday evening announced the takeover of the 23 council secretariats.

The three-year tenure of the 23 chairmen expired on Monday but they had vowed to remain in office, citing the Local Government Amendment Law 2024 made by the Martin Amaewhule-led House of Assembly.


The law by the 27 lawmakers loyal to Wike, empowers them to remain in office for six months due to the failure of Fubara to conduct local government elections.

One of the council bosses and Secretary of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Rivers State chapter, Obarimate Ollor, Ollor, had alleged, while addressing stakeholders at the first Annual General Meeting of the Aleto Clan Association in Port Harcourt last Thursday, that there were plans to invade the council on Monday (yesterday).

On Monday, youths occupied the secretariats of three local governments of the Kalabari-speaking areas, namely, Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru and Degema and vowed not to allow the chairmen access because their tenure had expired.

This came as Fubara, in a state-wide broadcast on Tuesday, directed the heads of local government administrations to take charge of council affairs from Wednesday, (tomorrow) pending further directives.

Protesting youths

But the crisis deepened later on Tuesday at the Port Harcourt City Local Government Area Council, when the state ALGON Chairman Allwell Ihunda, escaped death narrowly when scores of protesting Ijaw youths chased him in front of the council while trying to make his way into the facility situated between Bank Road and Moscow Road.

Ihunda, who is the outgoing Chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, was on his way to the council secretariat with some aides and security details when the youths blocked him, saying they were enforcing the order of the governor, who had directed heads of local government administrations to take charge of the 23 LGAs.

As he tried to have his way, the youths started shouting, chasing him and attempting to get hold of Ihunda who raced towards his car.

But the security details attached to the Mayor, as he is fondly called, resisted the youths from reaching their principal and consequently shot sporadically into the air to disperse them.

Ihunda raced into his waiting SUV vehicle escorted by aides and zoomed off with his convoy, while the youths chased and rained curses at him.

Some of the youths were heard shouting with a tone of mockery and pelted stones at his vehicle, saying, “That is him, Allwell. Chase him. Who is he? Look at him, Mayor is running. Chase him. Don’t run, come you will see pressure. We are not afraid of you’’.

Soon afterwards, a team of policemen arrived at the scene, firing gunshots into the air as well as teargas canisters in an attempt to disperse the protesters who included members of the Ijaw Youths Council, even as they challenged the operatives saying they were there on a peaceful protest.

One of the protesters, who refused to mention his name for fear of being identified, said they were at the secretariat to carry out a peaceful demonstration against Ihunda, whom they claimed had vowed not to vacate office despite the expiration of his tenure on Monday.

He, however, alleged that policemen started shooting live bullets and teargas canisters in their direction as soon as they sighted the youths, even as they approached newsmen to lodge their complaint.

He stated, “The tenures of the LG chairmen have elapsed and we are we came here as citizens of Rivers State. We stand here as Ijaw youths for peace and tranquillity. But the police are shooting at us. We are here for the governor of Rivers State. We are not here to make trouble.”

One of the youth leaders identified as Ichemanti alleged that one of the protesting youths was shot at by the police, even as the deafening sound of gunshots rented the air.

Soon after the situation calmed, the protesters mounted several canopies in front of the council as the policemen watched them dancing, singing, dancing with the IYC flags and displaying placards showing solidarity for Fubara.

In the Eleme LGA, the state ALGON secretary and outgoing chairman was said to have gone to the council with some of his aides and supporters but pro-Fubara supporters mobilised themselves and chased him out of the facility after a heated argument between them and his supporters.

In Obio/Akpor, the LGA of the FCT minister, hundreds of youths occupied the secretariat in Rumuodomaya early on Tuesday morning but the council chairman, George Ariolu was nowhere to be found.

The angry youths pulled down a gigantic billboard of the FCT Minister inside the council and smashed the windscreen of one of the vehicles of the outgoing LG chairman, even as they remained in the secretariat.

In the Emuoha LGA, the planned distribution of farm implements to farmers in the 14 wards of the area by the outgoing Chairman, Dr Chidi Lloyd, was stalled as the youths also occupied the secretariat.

Speaking on the incident, Lloyd, a former leader of the State House of Assembly, took a swipe at Fubara over his directive for the heads of LG administrations to take charge of council activities across the 23 LGAs, describing it as ill-advised.

He stated, “What has happened is that the governor was ill-advised because the governor also knows that the state Assembly led by Martin Amaewhule had amended the Local Government Law and outlawed the use of caretakers as heads of local governments.

“And recall that even when they went to court before Justice Kion Kio, he only expunged the section that has to do with tenure elongation.

“Every other section in that law is still alive. So the governor couldn’t have asked heads of local governments to go and take over councils. No, they do not have such powers anywhere to take over the councils.”

Policeman killed

At Eberi-Omuma, in the Omuma LGA, a policeman and a member of a local vigilante group were killed during a scuffle, though the police said both men were there to prevent a breakdown of law and order.

A source said a policeman attached to a politician in the Omuma LGA had allegedly shot the member of the vigilante group codenamed the Omuma Security Planning and Advisory Committee. The politician was in one of the groups that clashed at the council secretariat.

The source said the protesters attacked and killed the policeman in reprisal.

But when contacted, the spokesperson for the state Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, confirmed the death of the policeman and the vigilante. She, however, did not disclose the cause of the death.

She said, “Yes, we lost a police officer and a vigilante member. Investigations are ongoing to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the incident.”

Also in Obio/Akpor, Emohua, Eleme and Khana LGAs, there were reports of shooting by unidentified persons.

But in the Ikwerre Local Government Area, the outgoing Chairman, Dr Samuel Nwanosike, succeeded in staying put in the council until much later when he left, as he was seen in a viral video speaking from the council, although there were reports of gunshots in some parts of the area.

Nwanosike, an ally to the FCT minister, accused the governor and the Chief of Staff, at Government House. Dr Edison Ehie, of hiring cultists and gunmen to unleash mayhem in the 23 LGAs.

Nwanosike, in a trending video on Tuesday alleged that the governor hired creek dwellers and brought them to the state, saying “They are going about LGA by LGAs shooting and looting the properties” of the councils particularly that of the Ikwerre LGA.

“They went and hired cultists who are shooting and looting council properties in the name of governing a state. They even shot a policeman. Is this the best for democracy!?

He called on President Bola Tinubu to intervene and uphold the constitution of Nigeria in the Rivers crisis to forestall a breakdown of law and order.

“We are calling on Mr President that this is the time to uphold the constitution of Nigeria. Governor Fubara has brought insecurity full blown into Rivers State” reports the punch.

Reacting to the allegation, the state Commissioner for information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, said the former chairman was merely trying to be clever by half, noting that there was no shooting anywhere in the state as alleged.

Johnson stated, “His allegations or claims are very funny. We are not in any desperate mode to take over any council in the state. The Constitution is very clear on this matter. It says that any law that is enacted at the lower level cannot supersede the constitution of the country.

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