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N11bn Deduction: Wike issues notice to challenge FAAC in court

From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has hinted that the state government will file a law suit challenging the deduction of N11 billion from the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) without consultations from state governments.

Recall that recently FAAC deducted the said amount to be given to the Nigeria Police to enhance their efficiency in the security of the nation.

But Governor Wike, in a broadcast at Government House in Port Harcourt, on the update of the COVID-19 status in the state, regretted that without the consent of state governments, the money was deducted, insisting that doing so was illegal and a breach of the constitution.

He insisted that “if you must take money, we (state governments) must be put on notice. How can you go to FAAC meeting and deduct N11 billion”?

He stressed that, “I have told them that I will challenge this in court. Let it be that one day people will refer to it. You can’t stand firm and get what you want, Rivers State government will challenge it in court”.

Speaking on the status of the state regarding to spread of the dreaded corona virus, the governor announced that the state has recorded 13 cases of which four are female and nine male.

The governor also explained that of the 13 infected persons, two had recovered, two dead, while nine are still receiving medical attention at the isolation centre.

He stated that among the infected persons was a pastor who prayed for one of the dead persons confirmed to have died of the virus.

He said: “As at today May 1, 2020, Rivers State has recorded 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, four females and nine males.

“Of this number, two had recovered and discharged, nine still active and receiving medical attention in our isolation centre, while unfortunately, two lost their lives.

“Recall that we had the first and second cases of coronavirus infections in the State in late March 2020. But it is significant to note that the third case was recorded after a lull of about one-month interval.

“Furthermore, apart from the sixth case who has no travel history, the rest were returnees from Italy, United Kingdom, and Lagos or persons who had close contacts with already affected persons. Indeed, five of the most recent cases are all children and a relative of the second death case.

“The logical conclusion therefore, is that the pattern of transmission of COVID-19 in the State is evidentially predicated on importation from outside, just as the rate of infection and progression is also relatively low and arithmetical, when considered from the date of the index case.

“And so, so long as security personnel continue to allow people with this virus into the state through the closed borders without first ensuring that they are quarantined and their infection status determined, so long shall our State and our people will be exposed to the threat of contracting COVID-19”.

Speaking on the measures the state government put in place to contain the spread of the dreaded virus, the governor mentioned that were it not for the swift intervention to close borders, schools, markets, religious and other gatherings, the case in Rivers would have gone beyond control.

“We are in a battle with a dreaded and invisible disease, and as a State Government, we are doing everything within our powers, sparing no efforts to contain this enemy and save the lives of our people.

“It is therefore important for me to start by expressing our gratitude for everyone that we have engaged in this battle, and most especially, our healthcare workers, who are on the frontlines, working night and day, every day of the week to prevent the mass transmission of this virus in our State.
Meanwhile, he stated that the federal government has not shown any sign of assisting the state in curtailing the spread of the virus and in its treatment, and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene.

“We are virtually fighting this battle without any tangible material support from the Federal Government. We are wondering as most of you may also be, that up till now the NCDC has not established any testing center in the State in spite of our position, huge socio-economic and demographic mix and high transmission threat hanging over us as a result.

“Was this deliberate? If not so, why and what was the justification for this dangerous neglect, which is obviously limiting our capacity to expand testing for this virus in the State,” he asked.

He further requested security agencies to cooperate with the taskforce established by the state and fully enforce not only the state’s directives on border closure, but also the president’s directive on the ban on inter-state travels from next Monday, May 4th.

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