‘Not on our watch will it happen”Sets Up New Bases For LG Officers, Fubara Defies Police Blockade

'Not on our watch will it happen"Sets Up New Bases For LG Officers, Fubara Defies Police BlockadePunch reported on Thursday, June 20, 2024, that Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara has declared that the state’s twenty-three local government councils will function from different secretariats after the police sealed the councils on Tuesday. This statement was made following the 23 local government caretaker committee chairmen’s swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday in the state capital of Port Harcourt.CONTINUE FULL READING>>>>>

The governor emphasized that the newly appointed chairmen could operate from any location to ensure the continuity of governance.

The tension arose as the police barred the newly inaugurated caretaker chairmen from accessing their offices in all 23 local government headquarters.

The secretariats were barricaded with police patrol vans, manned by armed policemen.

The state police command had on Tuesday announced that it had taken over all the local government council headquarters to forestall further bloodshed and prevent a breakdown of law and order.

The situation escalated following a violent clash on Tuesday between supporters of Governor Fubara and those of his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, who is now the Federal Capital Territory Minister.

This confrontation occurred at Eberi-Omuma in the Omuma Local Government Area of the state, resulting in the deaths of a policeman and a member of a local security outfit.

The ongoing conflict between Fubara and Wike has been intensifying since late last year, further polarizing political factions within the state.

The feud led to the bombing of the state House of Assembly last year and factionalized the House, with the governor narrowly surviving an impeachment attempt by 27 lawmakers loyal to the FCT minister, Martin Amaewhule.

The crisis reached a new peak on Tuesday when youths loyal to Governor Fubara ousted some local government chairmen who were supporters of Wike, following the expiration of their tenure.

The three-year tenure of the 23 chairmen expired on Monday. However, they insisted on remaining in office, citing the Local Government Amendment Law 2024, passed by the Amaewhule-led House of Assembly.

This law, supported by the 27 lawmakers loyal to Wike, purportedly extends their tenure by six months due to the governor’s failure to conduct local government elections.

In response, Governor Fubara, after swearing in the newly appointed caretaker committee chairmen at the Government House on Wednesday, urged them to avoid violence, maintain peace, and adhere to constitutional guidelines.

He also directed the Auditor-General of Local Governments to commence an immediate audit of the accounts of the 23 councils.

The governor reiterated that the new appointees could operate from any location for now.

Fubara stressed that the swearing-in of the caretaker chairmen was necessary to ensure seamless administration of local governments after the expiration of the elected chairmen and councillors’ tenure.

He cautioned the new chairmen against confrontation, emphasizing his preference for law-abiding behavior and peaceful control of the local government councils.

He said, “Whatever happened yesterday (Tuesday), I know and the world knows that it is not from you people. Some people caused it. So, let us not allow them to continue to make our state look bad in the comity of states. So, when you go back, if there is any situation, you should be law-abiding. I don’t want any confrontation. You can operate from anywhere for now. But the most important thing is that you have the control of the local governments today.”

Defending his decision to appoint caretaker chairmen, Fubara framed the move as a defense of democratic principles.

“What is happening here now is a defence of democracy. We will not allow the wrong precedent to be created in this country. It is not about Rivers State. It is not about Fubara. But if in any way this attempt at tenure elongation succeeds in Rivers State, it becomes a norm in Nigeria. So, we have taken it upon ourselves to say, not on our watch will it happen because it is completely alien to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”CONTINUE FULL READING>>>>>