Cop killed as youths dislodge pro-Wike LG chairmen in River state.

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.

youths protesting

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

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