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Councillors demand better protection from abuse and death threats

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Councillors demand better protection from abuse and death threats

Council leaders have demanded urgent measures to tackle what they say is a tide of abuse against councillors, potentially including a specific law against intimidating public officials and a greater willingness to prosecute those who make threats.

A meeting of senior local government leaders from across England heard of regular death threats against councillors and routine abuse or accusations of corruption on social media and in comments under local newspaper website stories.

The executive advisory board of the Local Government Association (LGA), which groups together several dozen council leaders from various parties, had already begun gathering information about the issue before the killing of the Conservative MP Sir David Amess last week.

But in a meeting on Thursday, a series of councillors recounted receiving death threats, saying that the extent of intimidation risked seeing many people put off from putting themselves up for election.

“You shouldn’t have to be a brave superhero to want to stand and represent your community,” said Tudor Evans, the leader of the opposition on Plymouth council, who said he had once been sent a death threat because of a temporary traffic light scheme.

Evans recounted how the previous week in Plymouth, a man had gone into a cafe with a knife in his belt and made threats against local councillors.

Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle council, said he had quit almost all social media due to a “daily background” of messages containing homophobic comments or accusations of corruption.

Forbes said he and colleagues felt things were so bad that ministers needed to act. “In the same way that there is additional protection for, for example, police officers and NHS staff, we thought that there should be a specific offence of intimidating or harassing a public official,” he said.

Forbes said the police response to even direct threats was “patchy”, and called for officers and prosecutors to adopt a “zero tolerance approach to harassment”.

While saying that councillors had to make sure their discourse was “mature and sensible”, Forbes argued that some local papers played a role in fomenting hatred: “We need the media to take a responsible attitude, to not boiling complicated, complex issues down to good or bad, demons or heroes, providing clickbait and often using the language of aggression.”

Georgia Gould, the leader of Camden council in north London, said the extent of intimidation was such that councillors should be able to opt out of having their home address publicly visible. She said: “Most of us have probably received some kind of death threat, or other difficult visits to our homes, and I just don’t think it’s a safe situation.”

Isobel Seccombe, the leader of Warwickshire county council, who heads the LGA’s Conservative grouping, said she too had received threats, but was worried that it was becoming so routine that it was seen as inescapable.

She said: “That’s the problem, that we do accept this as a consequence of being a councillor. And our acceptance of it is, in a way, contributing to the problem.”

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Ondo Govt reacts to court judgement declaring new LCDAs ‘illegal’

The Ondo State Government says necessary legal action will be taken on the judgement nullifying the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

The government’s reaction is contained in a statement by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Mr Kayode Ajulo SAN, made available to  newsmen on Friday in Akure.

Justice A.O Adebusuoye of the state High Court had in a judgement on Thursday described the creation of the LCDAs as unlawful.

The court said it was illegal for a governor to sign a law outside the State.

The court said that the Local Government Creation Law 2023 signed by the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Ibadan was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The statement said the government has taken cognizance of Ondo State High Court’s judgement and had requested for a Certified True Copy of it.

Ajulo said after it was studied and analysed, a legal opinion would be presented to the state government.

“Subsequently, all necessary measures, in accordance with our laws, will be taken to safeguard the interests of our citizens, foster peaceful coexistence, and uphold the rule of law.

“The Attorney General remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing the well-being and welfare of our citizens, working tirelessly to ensure that justice and the law are served,” the statement said.

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LASTMA impounds 40 vehicles in Oyingbo, ijora, idumota axis

The  Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas of  Lagos.

Mr Taofiq Adebayo, Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

Adebayo said impounding the vehicles at these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by LASTMA Head of Enforcement, Mr Kayode Odunuga, under the directives of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa.

Adebayo that they were specifically directed to target illegal garages that had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the  Lagos State Government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

He quoted Giwa as emphasising that government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads, ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos.

“These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

“LASTMA’s intervention aims to clear these bottlenecks and enhance the overall traffic situation in these critical areas.

“Residents and business owners have expressed their support for the government’s action, noting the positive impact it will have on their daily activities.

“LASTMA has also assured the public that the operation will be sustained and extended to other parts of the city where illegal garages and related activities are prevalent,” he quoted Giwa as saying.

He urged all vehicle owners and operators to adhere to the state’s traffic regulations and cooperate with authorities to avoid sanctions.

He reiterated that the government’s primary objective was to create a better and more livable Lagos for everyone.

He also urged motorists to take ownership of the roads and to promptly inform LASTMA of any broken down or abandoned trailers or trucks via the Agency’s hotlines: 0810056586008129928503.

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Emir of Ilorin commiserates with Saraki over mother’s death

Nigeria in very bad shape, only PDP can rebuild it —Saraki

Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has commiserated with a former Senate President,  Dr Bukola Saraki, over the death of his mother, Mrs Florence Saraki.

This is contained in a condolence message issued by the emir’s Spokesman, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, on Wednesday in Ilorin.

Mrs Saraki died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

Sulu-Gambari described the deceased as a wonderful mother, great philanthropist and virtuous wife to  Dr Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin, whose contributions to humanity would forever be remembered.

According to him, the deceased lived a fulfilled life, with numerous accomplishments.

The royal father urged Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara, and his siblings to be strong in heart over the demise of their beloved mother.

Sulu-Gambari, who is also the Chairman of Kwara Traditional Rulers’ Council, extended his condolences to both the immediate and extended family members of the Saraki dynasty.

“I pray that Almighty Allah grants the family and friends the fortitude to bear the great loss,” he said.

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