- intercepts 9 trucks laden with livestock, grains, 200 persons from the north
- puts trucks up for auctioning, while quarantining persons
The regional governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who has lately taken on a combative posture with the country’s central government in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people across the world, said on Friday that he was alerting the world of a looming, dangerous escalation of the pandemic in his state, due to alleged “hypocrisy of the Federal Government and the wilful sabotage of the security agencies.”
In a state broadcast, the second in a week, Governor Wike said the state was facing a horrible predicament.
He warned that there were chances of an exponential increase in the infection and spread of the virus. “While we cannot overstate the gravity of our present predicament, nobody should be surprised should Rivers State witness exponential increases in the infection and spread of COVID-19 cases in the days and weeks ahead, as we begin intense testing.”
The governor said, however, his administration’s “resolve and commitment remain strong and total; and as we continue to urge everyone of us to treat this as a matter of life or death, our message to you remains constant: obey our directives to stay at home and protect yourself, your family and our state from the spread of COVID-19. There is certainly no choice on this. Staying at home and staying safe for now is not just mandatory; it is the best available option in the circumstance.”
He quickly bantered: “As a Government, a strong one for that matter, we have the responsibility to act decisively on the side of the law to safeguard the safety of our state and its residents.”
Governor Wike alleged that the state’s borders have continued to experience “serial acts of sabotage by security operatives, who allow, and in some cases, personally aid persons with risky COVID-19 status into the state.”
He announced that on Thursday, the government intercepted a lorry-load of livestock with 22 persons who bribed their ways into the state from as far as Adamawa State, despite the Federal Government’s acclaimed restriction on inter-state travels, coupled with the state’s definitive closure of all entry routes.
He added that on Friday, another eight trucks were intercepted, with 200 persons hidden in loads of grains, and being smuggled into the state from the northern parts of the country.
“Indeed, the extent of sabotage was such that, even a Deputy Commissioner of Police unilaterally appropriated and exercised powers to illegally issue movement pass to individuals and companies indiscriminately, in utter contempt and direct violation of the lockdown orders of the State Government,” Wike said.
He said information about the entry of the trucks were given by the Rumuigbo community, through their vigilante group, which intercepted a truck that had people hidden in it. He rewarded the community with N5 million for their role.
Recall that, earlier on Monday in his state broadcast, while announcing the total lockdown and a 24-hour curfew in Port Harcourt metropolis, the governor announced the reward of N100,000 to any whistle-blower who would provide information leading to those flouting the lockdown.
Governor Wike said he was quite appreciative to the overwhelming majority of Rivers people for complying with the “Stay at Home and Stay Safe” orders, including the temporary closure of business outfits and activities throughout the State. “In particular, I wish to commend the Rumuigbo community vigilante for rising to the challenge, as any responsibly community should do, by intercepting a lorry-load of livestock with 50 persons who illegally entered the State in violation of the lockdown orders.
He warned that as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to graduate its way through the State, the actions, inactions and counter-actions from the security agencies were rather amplifying the risk of a public health disaster in the State. He alleged that “it is becoming clear each day that the forces bent on forcing COVID-19 pandemic on our State are not willing to cease their evil plot and intentions.”
Governor Wike then announced the impoundment of the vehicles: IVICO Truck with Reg. No. KBK 336 XA; DAF Truck with Reg. No. Adanawa MUB 20 YH; HOWO Truck with Reg. No. Adamawa HNG 608 XA; and DAF Truck with Regi. No. PKM 48594 XA, the convicting of their owners and forfeiture of the trucks to the State, and would be auctioned by the deputy sheriff of the State High Court.