By Godwin Anene
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has threatened to seize and auction hotels and vehicles found culpable violating the state government COVID-19 lockdown in the state.
This is even as he declared total COVID-19 lockdown with dawn to dusk curfew on Port Harcourt City and neighboring Obio Akpor, two Local Government Areas (LGAs) that make up the Rivers state capital.
The governor in a broadcast on Monday said the total lockdown takes effect from Wednesday 7 April.
According to him, the state would seize and action vehicles, hotels found violating relevant orders and restrictions at checking spread of the pandemic in the state while a N100,000 reward awaits any whistle blower who reports offenders.
He declared, “We have decided on the extreme measure of placing entire Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City LGAs under 24 hours total lockdown from Thursday 7th May 2020 until further notice.
“On no account should there be any vehicular movements or gathering of more than two persons in these LGAs except those on essential services with appropriate authorization. All shops, trading or business activities, including currency exchange, in these areas must also remain closed till further notice.
“All Landlords are advised to ensure that no shop or trading activity is opened or carried out in or around their premises or risk the confiscation of their property by the Government. Any person, group or institution that violates the lockdown and curfew will face full wrath of the law. “
The Rivers State Governor directed immediate arrest and prosecution of Chief B.A. Worgu and Mr. Isaiah Abraka for organizing night markets in defiance of existing ban on such activities.
On condition for exemption of oil workers from the state’s Covid-19 restrictions, Wike said, “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 from oil and gas companies’ crew change or other essential operations must first submit details of manifests to the State 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 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.
On alleged “irresponsible utterances by Prof. Henry Ugbomah, Chief Medical Director, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Wike warned, “This Government not allow itself distracted on its battle against COVID-19, will neither tolerate nor hesitate to deal with anyone who dares fabricate lies to rubbish the hard work and sacrifice we are making to save lives in our State, just to advance parochial partisan interests.
“The hard choices we make as a Government and as a people over COVID-19 are all premised on upholding the sanctity of human life. We cannot abdicate this compelling responsibility and abandon our people to chances in midst of this ravaging pandemic.”
He revealed that the latest of Rivers 14 positive Covid-19 cases was flown into Port Harcourt by Bristow Helicopters from an offshore oilfield in neighbouring Akwa Ibom State 29 April 2020, harping that the development underscores how unchecked entry of oil workers remains a potential source of importation and spread of COVID-19 from external contacts into Rivers.
“On the whole, we can all see that COVID-19 cases confirmed across the country are growing in numbers, meaning that the situation in our State, although still relatively low, can change for the worse, if we relax our measures or become complacent.
“All residents must wear face masks before stepping out of their homes to the public space. The operations of all private motor parks, taxi ranks and loading bays throughout the State is hereby prohibited”, he stated.