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Rivers LG crisis: APC wants state of emergency, PDP backs Fubara

Gov appoints caretaker chairmen, to audit LG accounts Police maintain barricade of council secretariats   The All Progressives Congress (APC) has called for the declaration…

  • Gov appoints caretaker chairmen, to audit LG accounts

  • Police maintain barricade of council secretariats

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has called for the declaration of a state of emergency in Rivers State over the crisis emanating from the status of the local government chairmen in the state, which on Tuesday claimed the lives of two people.

This is even as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) backs the state governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, who yesterday swore in new caretaker chairmen for the 23 local government areas following their screening by the state’s House of Assembly to fill the vacancies created by the expiration of the tenure of the former elected Council Chairmen on June 17.

The incident followed the impasse over the elongation of the tenure of the elected council chairman, which stems from ongoing political tensions between Governor Fubara and his predecessor and current FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, under whom the outgone chairmen were elected. The chairmen had insisted that they would remain in office for an additional six months under the Local Government Amendment Law passed by the Martin Amaewhule-led 27-member House of Assembly loyal to the FCT minister, Nyesom Wike.

The law extended the tenure of the council chairmen by six months due to the failure of Governor Fubara to conduct local government elections. But the governor, while relying on a court order restraining the Amaewhule-led lawmakers from parading themselves as members of the state House of Assembly, said the law was illegal and not binding.

The impasse led to the killing of two people yesterday, according to the state police command. Those killed include a policeman and a member of a vigilante group. This had led to the police taking over the secretariats of the 23 local government councils.

Following the swearing-in of the new caretaker chairmen at the Government House on Wednesday, the leadership of the APC in Rivers State called on the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency in the state, saying that there is a full-blown war in the state.

The caretaker chairman of the APC in the state, Chief Tony Okocha, noted that there would be a huge repercussion on the nation’s economy and security if the situation in Rivers is allowed to degenerate before action is taken.

Responding, however, the state commissioner for information, Barrister Joseph Johnson, said the APC leader should not be taken seriously over the call for a state of emergency.

Recalling when the APC Chairman called for the impeachment of the governor, the commissioner said the APC leader was known to always cry wolf.

Similarly, the National Working Committee of the PDP has told the immediate past LG chairmen to stop beating the drum of war, reiterating that their tenure had expired.

Hon. Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary of the party, said in a statement on Wednesday that under the relevant state law establishing the Rivers State Local Government Council Administration, the three-year tenure of the council chairmen has expired.

The party also counsels the “former Rivers State Local Government Council Chairmen to desist from any action that may constitute disruption in local government administration in the state.”

Fubara orders an audit of LGs’ accounts

Meanwhile, Governor Fubara has ordered the audit of the accounts of the 23 LGAs for the past three years.

Fubara gave the order to the Auditor General of the state on Wednesday while swearing in the Caretaker Committee Chairmen of the local councils at the Executive Council Chamber of the Government House in Port Harcourt.

The governor said the audit of the accounts is intended to serve as a check for the incoming chairmen and make the local councils more accountable.

Fubara urged the caretaker chairmen to protect the interests of their people, not to see themselves as superheroes, and to demonstrate that the government was right in appointing them.

He, however, cautioned that their tenure would not be excessively long because the process for local government area elections would commence soon.

Police maintain barricade around council secretariats

Meanwhile, Daily Trust observed yesterday that the men of the Rivers State Police Command have continued to barricade the secretariats of the 23 local government areas of the state following the violence that erupted on Tuesday, which led to the deaths of a police officer and a vigilante member.

The development has made it impossible for the newly sworn-in caretaker committee members to access the various council secretariats to resume duty.

The Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, said the various councils in the state were barricaded to avert crises and violence that would lead to a breakdown of law and order.

“Because two people are fighting over something, the other group is waiting to tackle them. We have to prevent them from clashing and killing themselves like they did yesterday, when they killed a policeman and one other person.

“So, we have to prevent them from going in. We have locked up the local government secretariats. If we allow them to go in, other people will come out and clash. Then people will say, what are we doing as police officers?

“For the time being, nobody should come in. If we allow local government workers to come in, others will sneak in. So, it will still boil down to the same thing. It is better that we lock up the place and ensure that there is peace. And that is exactly what we are doing,” he said.

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