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CLO, 40 CSOs to IGP: Withdraw policemen from Rivers 23 councils’ secretariats or face mass protests

"We give the Nigerian Police a 7-day ultimatum, which expires next Friday, June 28, 2024, to withdraw its men from the 23 secretariats across the local government areas of the state"

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The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) and more than 40 allied groups said they are mobilizing for a massive protest across Rivers State if the Inspector General of Police, Dr. Kayode Egbetokun, fails to order the immediate withdrawal of police personnel from the 23 local government secretariats.

Persecondnews recalls that due to the crisis that broke out on Tuesday after the tenure of the elected chairmen expired, Rivers Police Commissioner Olatunji Disu, acting on the orders of the IGP, deployed police officers to take control of all the councils’ secretariats.

The police takeover of the state council offices has forced the 23 newly inaugurated caretaker chairmen of the councils to conduct their administrative duties from makeshift locations, including their private residences, hotels, and other alternative venues.

Comrade Enefaa Georgewill, the South-South Zonal Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), condemned the continued blockade and occupation of the secretariats, urging the police to cease transforming Rivers into a police state.

He described the continued barricade at the councils’ gates as “humiliating and degrading” to the state’s residents.

Georgewill announced that the CLO has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the police to withdraw from the secretariats, warning that failure to comply would prompt a massive statewide protest against police oppression in Rivers State.

Georgewill said: “We give the Nigerian Police a 7-day ultimatum, which expires next Friday, June 28, 2024, to withdraw its men from the 23 secretariats across the local government areas of the state. We are at the moment consulting with all our affiliates, and we are giving the police command a time of grace to do the needful.

“We have a governor who has decided on the crisis arising from the local government tenure imbroglio by swearing in a new caretaker committee to carry out the administrative work at the councils pending the conduct of LG elections.

“A competent court of jurisdiction had ruled that the Martins Amaewhule Assembly had no right to make laws for the extension of the tenure of the past council chairmen. Police ought to obey the subsisting judgment and remain neutral in the matter pending the final ruling by the Appeal Court.”

In the same vein, the Rivers State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has urged the police to immediately withdraw from the premises of the council secretariats, allowing local government workers to regain access to their offices and perform their official duties without hindrance.

In a statement released yesterday, Comrade Clifford Paul, the Rivers State Chairman of NULGE, expressed grave concern over the prolonged police siege at the various secretariats, emphasizing the need for a swift resolution to the impasse.

Paul said: “We call on the Rivers State Police Police Command to immediately withdraw all police personnel from the council secretariats in the state.

“The presence of these personnel has denied our local government workers access to the offices, preventing them from carrying out their legitimate duties.

As a result, the NULGE gives the Nigerian Police Force a deadline of Monday, June 24, 2024, to vacate all local government secretariats in Rivers State and ensure that our workers are granted unhindered access to their workplace.

“It is imperative that the normal function of local government councils is restored to continue serving the third tier effectively. However, we want to reiterate that the local government workers are not partisan and should not be brought into politics. We are core civil servants.”

Persecondnews also recalls that on Thursday, June 20, Egbetokun declared that police officers would continue to maintain a presence at the Rivers State Local Government secretariats until the court delivers a ruling on the ongoing dispute regarding the extension of tenure for LG chairmen in the state, thereby providing a legal resolution to the crisis.

He clarified that the goal of the security personnel’s deployment to the secretariats was not to harass or intimidate anyone, but rather to ensure a secure environment for all parties involved.

He reiterated that the Nigeria Police Force is committed to taking proactive measures to prevent violence outbreaks, mitigate potential conflicts, and maintain public safety through all lawful means necessary to ensure the preservation of peace and order in the country.

The police chief expressed his sorrow and regret over the tragic loss of an inspector in the violent clashes in the oil-rich state, describing it as a sombre moment for the force.

He said the police are not willing to suffer any further losses and are committed to taking all necessary measures to prevent additional casualties.

His statement reads, in part: “We don’t want to lose more Nigerians. We don’t want to lose more citizens of Rivers State. So, we have a duty to prevent the breakdown of law and order.”

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