Rivers crisis: ALGON alleges protest against Police by NULGE, NLC, TUC


From TONY JOHN Port Harcourt
The Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) has accused members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), of planning to stage a protest with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) against the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) over the political crisis in Rivers State.
ALGON chairman, Rivers State,
Sir Allwell Ihunda, who briefed journalists alongside his colleagues from 21 Local Government Areas, in Port Harcourt on Sunday, said it was proper they let the world be aware of what is going on in the State.
He noted the recent appointment of Caretaker Committee (CTC) members by the state Governor Siminalayi Fubara for the 23 LGAs against the recent court order that parties involved in the lingering crisis should maintain status quo.
Ihunda said: “We are here today, to bring the attention of the world on what is happening in Rivers State.
“We are aware that, in spite of the matter in Court of Appeal, that on the 19th of June, the governor of Rivers State went ahead to appoint caretaker committee members of the 23 local government areas, in spite of the fact that the Court of Appeal has stated clearly that all parties should maintain status quo on all the suits before the Appeal Court; and inclusive of the matter in Supreme Court.”
ALGON faulted the appointments of the CTC members, observing that members of the committee were mostly civil servants and members of NULGE.
Ihunda continued: “Now, what we observed from list of Caretaker Committee members is that, across the 23 LGAs, the appointments were made from NULGE members, as part of the caretakers, whereas these NULGE members are staff of the councils. They are not supposed to be.
“That is why recently we observed that NULGE has planned with NLC and TUC to carry a protest tomorrow (Monday), being 24th June against the Police, the IGP has ordered to stay in the council to maintain law and order, so that there would not be further deaths as we experienced in Omuma LGA
“Therefore, we have decided to speak to the world today, to draw the attention of everybody to what is happening in Rivers State.”
Also speaking, the Emohua LGA chairman, Chidi Lloyd, said it was unfortunate to discover that NULGE has shown itself as being part of the ongoing political crisis in Rivers State.
Lloyd continued: “We are all aware of the recent development in the State. We, the local government chairmen duly elected pursuant to the provision of Section 7 (1), as the Constitution of Nigeria enjoins, we were duly elected and we were in office up until the time when the Rivers State House of Assembly amended the law to extend our tenure.
“A lot of discourse has been going on and nobody is, what led to the extension? You recall that even the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria allows for such extension in an even of force majeure; in an emergency, what happens.
“So, the Rivers State House of Assembly led by the Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule rose to the occasion and amended the law in order for there  not be a vacuum because the governor of the state was not prepared to hand over to democratically elected personnel.
“We are not people that are crazy about of remaining in office. However, duty calls, this is a doctrine of necessity that has be invoked.
“Tomorrow (Friday), we have heard of publication by NULGE under the leadership of one Clifford Paul, who masquerades as chairman or president NULGE, Rivers State.
“They (NULGE) have dangerously entered the arena of political dispute. These are supposed to be civil servants. Like the Mayor of Port Harcourt said, civil servants have made nominations into the illegal caretaker committee that were screened by Oko-Jumbo and two others. And they did not resign their appointments pursuant to the provisions of the Rivers State Local Government Laws.
“For you to be a member of Caretaker Committee, you must resign whatever appointment you hold. We are not aware that any of them has resigned. They have taken oath of office. So, they cannot say they are calling for Police the premises of the various local government councils because they want to go to work. These are people who are now dangerously aligned in this dispute.”
Lloyd continued that, as chairmen of the councils, they would not, no matter the level of provocation from their detractors, join in causing violence in the state.
“But, we will not do that. The reason we would not do that is that, we cannot be seen to be maiming the same people we are leading.
“What is going on in Rivers State, what the Rivers State House of Assembly did, has been done in Zamfara State, without anybody throwing any stone because that is the way to go, in the event that the government is not able to provide enabling environment for elections to hold. The House of Assembly extended the tenure of local government chairmen in Zamfara State for six months, even in our sister State, Akwa Ibom.
“What we have here is a situation where the governor is open to all kinds of advice, who want to benefit from the system.
“So, we are calling on the national president of NULGE to call his members in Rivers State to order. We are also calling local government council staff to refrain from any protest that their leaders are going to drag them into.
“We are also aware that these illegal caretaker committee had gone ahead to make all kinds of announcements including dissolution of standing committees that were appointed by us. All those committees are still intact. We enjoined our appointees to continue to discharge their functions given them by those who are democratically elected.
“The issues are at various courts. As law  abiding citizens, we are going to wait for all that the courts will say. So, we are going to allow the police to be blackmailed. We welcomed what the Inspector General of Police has done to avert any further breakdown of law and order.”
ALGON, however, commended Police for setting up a committee to investigate the killing of a police officer and a member of vigilance group in Omuma, in Omuma LGA.
Members of ALGON declared that they could not be intimidated, vowing to protect their various councils from “intruders.”

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