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Monday, July 15, 2024

Wike’s allies hold protest march after police ask NULGE to call off protest

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The Rivers State Police on Monday allowed former Rivers Local Council Chairmen to hold protest marches in some parts of Rivers, the same day the Police had advised the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) of the state to call off its planned protest.

Most of the former local council chairmen are supporters of Nyesom Wike, former Rivers governor, who is engaged in a protracted political battle with his successor, Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

Mr Wike is now the FCT minister.

Since last Wednesday, the state police had seized all 23 state council secretariats after violent clashes between supporters of Governor Fubara and those of Mr Wike led to the death of two people, including a police officer.

The closure of the council secretariats has prevented local government workers from accessing their offices, a situation that forced NULGE to give the police a four-day ultimatum to vacate the secretariats or face protests.

The unions, the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Rivers State, had expressed support for the protest planned by NULGE, PREMIUM TIMES reported.

But state police spokesperson Grace Iringe-Koko, in a statement on Sunday, a day before the ultimatum expired, advised NULGE to call off the planned protest.

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“Police command respects the right to lawful assembly, but has received credible information indicating possible infiltration of the protest planned for Monday.

“The goons are planning to hijack the protest and instigate chaos in the state.

“Accordingly, the command advises the organizers to suspend the planned protest to avoid any possible breakdown of law and order,” said Mrs Iringe-Koko, Superintendent of Police.

In apparent compliance with the police order, the state unions in a joint statement issued on Sunday said they had uncovered plans of “some miscreants” to cause chaos in the state under the pretext of an ultimatum they issued to the inspector general of police. order the police to vacate the council secretariats.

The union disassociated itself from the “evil plan” which, it said, was aimed at promoting the call to declare a state of emergency in the state by “mischief-makers.”

“The Rivers State Organized Labor Party has not directed anyone or any group of people to embark on any form of industrial action or demonstration following the lockout of our members in various local government councils in the state.

“The affected affiliated union, especially NULGE, is hereby ordered to remain on hold until further notice for possible legal industrial action,” the union said.

But some former council chairmen allied to Wike held a protest march in Port Harcourt on Monday, the same day the police advised NULGE to call off its planned protest.

The state’s police spokesperson, Mrs Iringe-Koko, did not respond to calls and text messages seeking her comments on the development.

Stay away from council until court verdict – Former council president

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, Samuel Nwanosike, former chairman of Ikwerre local council, said former chairmen are protesting in all 23 council areas.

“We want everyone to stay away from the council until the court gives a valid order that we must follow,” Nwanosike said, a similar position being probed by police.

“We will not allow thugs to take over our offices and take away the materials and resources that we have worked so hard to obtain.

“We have confidence in the police, but people are already blackmailing the police, those who are already involved in the matter, such as members of the vigilance committees,” he said, when asked if they do not trust the ability of the police. police to protect the population. secretaries.

Citing the protest notice issued earlier by NULGE if the police did not vacate the secretariat, Nwanosike said NULGE members cannot be judges in their own case.

“For example, there are NULGE officials who did not resign from their position before being appointed to the interim committee. Some of them are presidents of various NULGE councils.

“They are now part of the (interim) committee, how can they be judges in their own matter? They are telling the police that they want to go to work. If these scoundrels are allowed to intimidate the police, how long will the police be able to monitor him?”

Public officials appointed as members of the interim committee

The former chairmen of the state councils listed in a statement on Sunday the names of 21 officials and active members of NULGE who were appointed and inaugurated as members of the state caretaker committee by Governor Fubara.

The statement was sent to PREMIUM TIMES by Mr. Nwanosike.

Nwanosike specifically noted that Thankgod Ichem, a member of the newly inaugurated caretaker committee, did not resign as an official in the Ikwerre local council before assuming political office.

PREMIUM TIMES confirmed that Mr Ichem’s name was on the list of interim committee members vetted and approved by the Rivers House of Assembly for Ikwerre local council.

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This newspaper, however, was unable to contact Ichem to confirm whether he had resigned before taking office.

When contacted, Nelson Chukwudi, spokesperson for Governor Fubara, denied knowledge of the appointment of civil servants to the state caretaker committees.

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