- … warns UPTH medical director
- …oil, gas firms to pre-submit entry requests before flights
- …commits 188 persons to prison over executive order violation
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State on Monday took his hard-stance, combative disposition in administration to ultra levels as he announced a 24-hour dusk-to-dawn curfew and a total lockdown of the entire Port Harcourt metropolis, the state capital and Nigeria’s oil hub.
The metropolis covers about five local government areas (Port Harcourt municipal council, Obi/Akpor, Ikwerre, Oyigbo and Eleme LGAs).
This is coming at a time most national governments across the globe, and back home, states of the federation, including the central government, are moving forward with relaxing five weeks to two months total lockdown, so as to gradually open up their economies.
For Governor Wike, it’s rather more stringent measures, which evidentially, has not reflected in reduction in the COVID-19 positive cases. The state has rather moved from it’s two initial cases to 14, with two deaths. The governor attributed the rise to three new positive cases flown into the state from an offshore oil facility in Akwa Ibom State by Bristow Helicopters on April 29.
In a state broadcast on Monday, Wike, sounding extremely annoyed and clearly made-up, dished out stern warnings and punishments for anybody, corporate organisation or institutions that would disobey his 24-hour dusk-to-dawn curfew and a total lockdown of the state capital. Hence, hotels, guest houses and beer parlours must remain closed; while requests for waivers and entry permits from oil and gas companies will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Unfortunately, Rivers State breathes and survives with Port Harcourt, it’s key city, housing over three million people, whose closure now tantamount to complete lock-in of the state, which has a gross domestic product (GDP) of $25 billion.
He said it was part of the state government’s measures to check the spread of coronavirus.
“Consequently, we have decided on the extreme measure of placing the entire Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas under a 24 hours total lockdown from Thursday 7th May 2020 until further notice,” the governor said.
He warned all residents of the Port Harcourt City Local Government and Obio/Akpor council areas to stay at home. “On no account should there be any vehicular movements or gathering of more than two persons in these Local Government Areas, except those on essential services with appropriate authorization; all shops, trading or business activities, including currency exchange, in these local government areas must also remain closed until further notice. All landlords are advised to ensure that no shop or trading activity is opened or carried out in or around their premises, (otherwise they) risk the confiscation of their property by the Government.”
The governor descended further on institutions. “Any group or institution that violates the lockdown and curfew in these local government areas will be made to face the full wrath of the law. ”
He directed the immediate arrest and prosecution of B.A. Worgu and Isaiah Abraka for sneakily organizing night markets in defiance of existing ban on such activity.
Governor Wike further descended on oil and gas companies with stringent measures; claiming that the state faced threat posed by oil and gas company workers. He announced a review of all entry waivers and permits earlier granted to oil and gas gompanies.
He declared: “from now on, requests for waivers and entry permits from oil and gas companies will be considered on a case by case basis; all inward-bound vehicles and flights into Rivers State from oil and gas companies with workers for crew change or other essential operations must first submit details of their manifests to the State’s taskforce on COVID-19 for proper vetting of their virus status before they can be allowed to enter the State; all operators of chartered flights into Rivers State for oil and gas operations, especially Bristow and Caverton Helicopters, should please comply with this directive and refrain from jeopardizing the lives of our people for the sake of making profits.
Then Governor Wike sternly warned Henry Arinze Ugboma, a professor and the chief medical director of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), who he said, must “stop politicalizing the issue of coronavirus in the state with his rascally, irresponsible and ill-motivated utterances.”
He said: “This Government is focused and therefore will not allow itself to be distracted on its battle against COVID-19. However, we will neither tolerate nor hesitate to deal anyone who dares to fabricate lies to rubbish the hard work and sacrifice we are making to save the lives in our State just to advance parochial partisan interests,” he sounded on the teaching hospital CMD.
For Wike, ‘the hard choices we have to make as a Government and as a people over the COVID-19 pandemic are all premised on upholding the sanctity of human life.”
He said the new positive cases have shown and confirmed his fears that unvetted entry of oil and gas workers from Lagos, Abuja and elsewhere remains a potential source for the importation and spread of COVI/D-19 in the state.
He also announced a N100,000 cash gift to any whistle blower who gives out relevant information leading to the arrest and prosecution of any person, hotelier or motorist that violates the directives.