Rivers crisis: Cop, vigilante killed, as Police take over councils


Two persons including a police personnel and an OSPAC (a local vigilance group) member have been shot dead in Omuma Local Government Area of Rivers State on Monday.

Though, the state Police Command has not reacted to the report of death of its personnel and OSPAC, it was gathered that they died following bullet wounds the sustained when confrontation erupted between pro and anti-Fubara groups at the council headquarters.

Community sources claimed that pro-Siminalayi Fubara youths defied presence of security agencies who were at the council to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order, to stop former council chairman from entering the council.

Similar violence erupted in several local government councils as protesting youths said they wanted to ensure the eviction of council chairmen, whose tenure expired on Monday, June 17, 2024.

Earlier, there were heavy gunshots in Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of Rivers State on Tuesday.

It could not be ascertained if the shootings were between security men and armed youths, or pro and anti-governor’s supporters, who stormed the council headquarters.

It was reported that, at the Obio/Akpor council headquarters, the surging hoodlums attacked the chairman, George Ariolu and smashed the windscreen of his Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).

At Obio/Akpor council headquarters, youths suspected to be against tenure elongation of the 23 LGA chairmen, destroyed the sculpture of the former governor and Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike.

However, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Grace Iringe-Koko, a Superintendent of Police (SP), denied the involvement of policemen in the shooting.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has taken over the Obio/Akpor council headquarters, to forestall further breakdown of law and order in the area.

In a similar development, youths of Eleme Local Government Area of the State earlier occupied their Council Secretariat, stating that the governor is the only authority they know.

The youths stormed the council secretariat after the governor’s statewide broadcast directing Heads of Local Government Administration to take over the leadership of the 23 LGAs in the state.

It was gathered that they chased away all agents that are opposed to the directive issued by the governor.

The youths in their hundreds moved round the council premises stating that they would not allow anyone take away what belonged to the council.

Similarly, Police have beefed security in the 23 LGAs, especially at the council headquarters and at the Government House.

It was discovered that security operatives have dispersed youths from the various council headquarters positioning their patrol vans at strategic places.

Over 15 Police vehicles were sighted in front of Government House, Port Harcourt

Meanwhile, Governor Siminalayi Fubara has assured that he would fearlessly lead the way to ensure that peace continued to prevail in the State while also protecting all patriotic supporters for their stand on the path of truth.

Governor Fubara made the vow while addressing newsmen, shortly after rising from a State Security Council meeting with heads of the security agencies at Government House in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

The governor emphasised that no grand plan to arrest such patriotic supporters on trumped-up charges will be tolerated.

Governor Fubara stated that there is no extension of tenure of elected local government chairmen, adding that the law is unambiguous on it, clarifying that the court has also affirmed the position of the law.

The governor said: “Let me also say this: I’m also aware that there is a grand plan to come and arrest some of our supporters. This time around, you have to pass through me to arrest them because I don’t think there is anything that any of those people following us has done. Rather, they are standing on the side of truth.

“If it will cost us our lives to stand on the part of truth, we will do that. And I will be the one that will lead the course.”

Governor Fubara further said: “Let me assure everyone, more especially, the great and peace- loving people of Rivers State: the law is the law. The law has said that there is no extension of tenure.

“The court said so, and whoever that is assuring anybody anywhere of whatever, I advise them to desist from it because peace is what we need in this State.

“I assure everyone of you that whatever it takes to make sure that we maintain peace and order, we are not going back on that.”

Governor Fubara explained that the Security Council Meeting was called because of the recent threat to the peace of the State by the outgone chairmen of the Local Government Councils.

The governor said: “You are all aware that the tenure of the council chairmen ended yesterday, 17th June, 2024, and today, we have ordered the Heads of Local Government Administration to be in charge while they await further directives.

“It’s really unfortunate that we started hearing some disturbing news from some LGAs of invasion of council secretariats, and it is really unfortunate. So, we have called the Security Council Meeting so that the needful will be done.

“We are also aware that our enemy is also planning a lot of things. But we will not fall into that plot. We will not also allow him or them to destroy the peace that we are enjoying in the State,” he added.

He thanked the media and the peace-loving people of the State for their support, and urged everyone to continue to remain law-abiding for the unity and progress of the State.

Mike Ojo

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