By Godwin Anene
A member of the Rivers State taskforce on COVID-19 who was among the taskforce team that was allegedly attacked by hoodlums led by a former youth leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Elelme Local Government Area of the state last week, is dead.
The State Government announced the demise of the taskforce member on Wednesday.
It was the attack of the taskforce members who were enforcing the state government’s lockdown directive that led to the demolition of Prodest Hotel, Alode, Eleme.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulins Nsirim, announced the death of the deceased in a statement on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Nsirim did not reveal the identity of the late taskforce member.
The commissioner, however, disclosed that the state governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike has directed that a public school be built at the site of the demolished Prodest Home while equally demolished Etemeteh Hotel, Onne, would also be committed to public use.
Nsirim said, “These two hotels not only flouted the Executive Order 6, the Hotel Manager of Prodest invited wanted PDP Eleme Youth Leader, Princewill Osaroejiji, who came with thugs to unleash mayhem on Task Force operatives on ground to close down the facility.
“As we speak, one of the Task Force operatives lost his life last night. Governor Wike and Rivers Security Council took the decision to demolish the hotel in interest of Rivers and her people. Days before that demolition, everyone was aware the State Government sensitized the people on consequence of flouting Executive Order 6.
“Having demolished that hotel, Governor Wike has approved that a primary school be constructed at that location to serve Rivers people. The two hotels are being committed to public use. This is what a responsive government will do.”
On the rash of condemnation and criticism that have trailed the Governor’s action over the hotels, Nsirim said, “Wike has provided national leadership in the fight against coronavirus. Through his firm and decisive efforts, the Governor has been able to protect Rivers people, despite different plots to compromise Health protocols of the State.”
He noted that the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu captured the outstanding leadership role of Governor Wike in the fight against coronavirus when he visited the State recently among other commendations from stakeholders.
He said, “As we speak, many offenders have been tried and convicted under the Executive Orders. This is not a lawless situation; Governor Wike is working hard to protect Rivers people within the ambit of the law.
“Rivers State Government will remain focused. It will not be distracted by these unfortunate schemes by ill-mannered politicians, struggling for political space at the expense of their people.”
Nsirim wondered, “Why did the media not report the mass demolitions by the Lagos State Government between April 22 and April 23, 2020. These demolitions rendered over 500 persons homeless. Not a single Newspaper mentioned these demolitions for reasons yet to be ascertained.
“Where are those displaced in the heat of the lockdown? Where are the women and children? Where are the lawyers, the civil society groups and other partisan mercenaries? Are the displaced worthless? This was a fundamental crime against humanity, but it was swept under the carpet because it happened in Lagos.
“I don’t need to mention the demolition of a night club in Abuja where 80 persons lost their livelihood. What about the demolitions of homes in Abuja during the lockdown? Civil rights Lawyers and others looked the other way. We don’t need to mention Kaduna and several other States.
“For Rivers State, the demolition of two hotels was carried out in line with prescribed Executive Order known to all hoteliers in the State. It was also done to protect officials of the Rivers Government implementing the Executive Order. No Government will allow its officials to be killed by thugs whilst they carry out lawful directive.