In Rivers State, tensions are mounting as the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) and over 40 affiliated groups threaten a large-scale protest. This action is in response to the refusal of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, to withdraw police forces from the 23 local government councils. The deployment followed the end of tenure for the previous council chairmen and the swearing-in of new caretaker chairmen.

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The crisis began when Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, acting on orders from the IGP, stationed officers at all local government councils. This move has forced the new caretaker chairmen to operate from unconventional locations such as homes and hotels.

CUomrade Enefaa Georgewill, South-South zonal chairman of CLO, criticized the police blockade, calling it an “insulting and demeaning” action. The CLO has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the police to vacate the premises or face a statewide protest.

“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,” Georgewill stated. He emphasized that the police should respect the court’s decision and remain neutral until the final ruling by the Appeal Court.

Similarly, the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has demanded the police vacate the council secretariats. Rivers State NULGE Chairman, Comrade Clifford Paul, highlighted the disruption caused to local government workers, preventing them from performing their duties.

“The presence of these personnel has denied our local government workers access to the offices,” Paul said, giving the police until Monday, June 24, 2024, to withdraw.

Lawyer and former APC campaign spokesman, Mr. Sogboye Eli, echoed these sentiments, labeling the police siege as “unlawful and unconstitutional.” He argued that no court order justified the police actions.

Amidst the political turmoil, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Chibudom Nwuche, urged the youth to avoid violence. During a gathering with supporters, Nwuche expressed support for President Bola Tinubu and FCT Minister, Chief Nyesom Wike. He praised Wike’s efforts in infrastructure development, both in Rivers State and Abuja.

Nwuche called on the youth to seize opportunities provided by the current administration rather than engage in criminal activities. He emphasized the importance of continued support for Tinubu and Wike to bring further development to the area.

As Rivers State navigates this complex situation, the call for police withdrawal and the potential for mass protests underscore the growing unrest and the community’s demand for a resolution.