By Ovie Okpare
Ahead of Wednesday’s lockdown over the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has warned that any trader caught inflating prices of goods or hoarding essential commodity especially foodstuffs and drugs across the state will have his goods impounded or forfeited to the state government.
The governor said while the lockdown and ban on open trading including markets and supermarkets will be strictly enforced, he has, however, approved creation of temporary markets in designated primary and secondary schools across the state for the sales of foodstuffs and water.
Okowa noted that the move is to ameliorate the sufferings the restriction would cause residents during the period of the lockdown aimed at curtailing the spread of the disease into the state.
He said the designated markets will be established and supervised by the various council chairmen across the state.
The governor stated this on Tuesday evening in his fourth state-wide broadcast on the commencement of the total lockdown beginning from Wednesday (tomorrow morning.
The governor told traders that it was an offence to arbitrarily inflate prices of goods during the period of emergency in line with the State Infections Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020.
He said, “Pursuant to the Infections Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020, it shall be an offence to inflate the prices of/or hoard food, drugs and other essential goods and services within the State during this period of emergency.
“Anybody found in contravention of this order may have such essential goods seized or forfeited to the State as stipulated in the Law.
“Markets for ONLY the sales of food items and water will be organized in designated Primary/Secondary Schools in each Local Government Area of the State; they will be coordinated and supervised by the Local Government Chairmen and their teams to ensure compliance with the rules on social distancing.”
He further stated that aside those on essential duties such as medical workers, journalists, security agencies, firefighters among few others, other residents of the state should remain in the homes for the two weeks lockdown.
Okowa also asked banks in the state to operate by providing skeletal services during the period of the lockdown in the state.
He, however, appealed to prominent Deltans irrespective of their political or religious divides to support efforts of the state government by making financial donation to enable the state squarely combat COVID-19 pandemic.
“My Dear Deltans, I wish to make further pronouncements in our continuing efforts to prevent/contain the spread of the coronavirus disease in Delta State.
“In the exercise of the powers conferred on me by the Delta State Public Health Law Cap P21 Laws of Delta State 2006, and in particular, section 8 of the Quarantine Act, Cap Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, (having regard to the provisions of Sections 2,3 and 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004), and further pursuant to the Infections Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020 and other enabling Laws and powers in that regard, I hereby order as follows:
“With effect from Wednesday, April 01, 2020, movement of people, goods and services into, within, and out of all parts of Delta State are hereby stopped; All residents of the State not on essential duty or providing essential services are to stay home till further notice.
“The prohibition of the gathering of persons in the State for conferences, meetings, religious worship, festivals, private events, public visits, burials, weddings, traditional marriages and other social events.
“The temporary closure of public places, such as event centres, bars, night clubs/lounges, cinemas, markets, supermarkets, malls, shops, restaurants/canteens. There shall be no street football or any other sporting activities on the streets or neighbourhood during this emergency period.
“Foodstuff sellers are permitted to conduct their businesses within the precinct of their homes and will be monitored to ensure they adhere strictly to the social distancing rules”, Okowa, in the broadcast said.
On those exempted from the total lockdown in the state, the Delta governor said, “The restriction of movement does not apply to the following categories of persons: Those involved in the transportation of essential supplies such as food, water, petroleum products, pharmaceutical products, medical/emergency supplies or other essential supplies as may be cleared by my office.
“Security; Healthcare (Pharmacies are to remain open); Water Supply; Fire Service; Power Supply;Essential Departments of Media HousesEssential Departments of Telecommunications companies. Livestock farmers (poultry, piggery) and fish farmers are to be allowed into their farms.
“Banks are to remain open but only for skeletal services; All persons that fall under the category of exemption must carry valid identification tags to ensure easy identification and smooth passage as there will be increased security presence during this period.”
The governor appealed for support, patience and cooperation of all residents of the state to strictly comply with the directives to enable the state win the war against the dreaded disease.
“We are aware of the inconveniences these restrictions will bring but we must realise that we are in an emergency. Life has no duplicate and people have to be alive to be able to work or do business. So far, the only way to stop or contain the spread of this disease is to prevent further transmission.
“I am also appealing to wealthy Nigerians, particularly Deltans, to support the Government in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Those who wish to make financial donations can contact any of these persons – my humble self the Secretary to the State Government and the Honourable Commissioners for Finance and Health”, he added.