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Unpaid allowances: Ex-councillors allege manhandling by Bayelsa Govt House security operatives

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Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

Security details attached to the Bayelsa State Government House have molested and arrested some ex-councillors in the state.

It was learnt that the former councillors who served from 2013-2016 in local government areas across the state had stormed the Government House in Yenagoa to demand payment of their severance gratuities and backlog of entitlements owed them by the government.

It was further learnt that the ex-councillors were barred by security operatives from entering the Government House.

They were said to have stood a long while at the gate to register their plight to the head of security at the first gate of the Government House before they were told that the governor was in a weekly executive council meeting.

It was gathered that the security operatives ordered the ex-councillors to leave the Government House gate, but when they reportedly refused to leave, the security operatives allegedly arrested those they could arrest.

In an interview with our correspondent on Thursday, the leader of the ex-councillors, Ezekiel Believe, said after exhausting all avenues of communication, they were compelled to pay an “impromptu visit” to the governor.

He lamented, “We have consulted the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Benson Konwowei, the Commissioner for Local Government and other stakeholders in the state just to demand payment of our entitlements.

”Since April 2016 when we left councils, we have not received our severance gratuities and other backlog of claims.

“If we had received our claims and entitlements, we would have had something to hold on to while giving government more time than this. Our claims and entitlements were never paid, now it’s our severance gratuities.”

Also, Ogidi Bara, another ex-councillor from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said their visit to the Government House was not a protest, but a solidarity gathering.

”We completed our tenure in 2016 and in a couple of months from now, it’ll be two years since we left office as councillors.

”Despite that, some of our entitlements were not paid, we have endured and are supporting the government tremendously.

“We massively mobilised in our different wards and the results were impressive where the Peoples Democratic Party won almost all LGAs in the state.

”This was possible because we played significant roles in our communities. Now, we do not have money to meet certain challenges and do not want anybody to push us aside.”

He urged Governor Seriake Dickson to consider their plight and graciously pay their severance gratuities.

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