The Rivers State chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria has slammed Governor Siminalayi Fubara, accusing him of tempering with funds meant for the 23 LGs in the state in the last 12 months.

The association also alleged that the governor withheld the LG funds for April, while one of the councils, Emuoha, has not received the funds due to it since March 2024.

The body noted that the action of the Fubara-led state government has denied the local government chairmen of their functions in the administration of their councils, which they said is tantamount to proscribing the local government system in the state.

They also vowed not to vacate office at the expiration of their tenure later in June, this year, insisting that there is an existing law which allows them to remain in office for at least six months, as the governor is not prepared to conduct local government elections.

The State ALGON Chairman and Executive Chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, Allwell Ihunda, stated this at a news briefing in Port Harcourt, the state capital, on Wednesday.

Ihunda, who was flanked by 21 of his colleagues also said the security votes due to the various councils which are used to protect the LGs have not been released to them, saying these are signs of highhandedness and dictatorship by the governor.

Also speaking, the ALGON Legal Adviser and Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area, Chief Erastus Awortu, shed light on why the council chairmen would remain in office beyond June when their tenure will expire.

Awortu explained, “Yes, we were elected in 2021 and our tenure will expire in June. By now, local government elections ought to have been conducted and concluded, waiting for swearing-in for those that are victorious.

“But the state House of Assembly has seen that no action has been taken concerning conducting local government elections and in their wisdom to ensure that there is no vacuum, we must maintain a democratically elected system as the constitution and in the local government law of Rivers State.

“The House has said until elections are done, this local government will stay in office for another six months in the interim.”

Awortu said it was in this respect that the LG chairmen went to court because the state government had not shown any inclination towards conducting local government elections.

He added, “But what we are seeing is associates of the governor and even the governor himself, making comments like on the 17th on the 18th they are going to invade the local government offices and burn anybody they see. This is an invitation to anarchy.

“We, as local government chairmen, are going to remain in office because the recently amended local government law that creates and provides for tenure and functioning of local governments in Rivers State as empowered by the Constitution has given us an additional six months period. And we will remain in office until that period expires.

“It has been done in other states, recently in Zamfara State they extended. So we expect that the governor will do what is reasonable and conduct local government elections instead of seeking to plunge the state into needless violence.”

He warned against the invasion of local government secretariats by thugs.

On his part, the Chairman of Emuoha Local Government Area, Dr Chidi Llyod, said it was unfortunate that council chairmen who fought and rallied around the governor to win the elections are suffering such a fate today.

The state House of Assembly recently vetoed the governor to pass the State Local Government Amended Law which empowers the council chairmen to remain in office for another six months after the expiration of their tenure should the governor fail to conduct LG elections.

All 23 local government chairmen in the state were elected during the tenure of Fubara’s predecessor and estranged political godfather, Nyesom Wike, now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.