From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
As part of measures to check the spread of coronavirus in Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike has announced a 24-hour total lockdown and a dusk-dawn curfew on Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
The Governor who made the declaration in a broadcast on Monday, said the total lockdown will take effect from Thursday, May 7, 2020 till further notice.
He said with the declaration, all residents of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas must stay at home.
Governor Wike said: “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 7thMay 2020 until further notice.
“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 or risk the confiscation of their property by the Government.
“Any person, 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.
The Rivers State Governor said given the threat posed to the State by oil and gas company workers, it has reviewed all entry waivers and permits earlier granted to Oil and Gas Companies .
The Rivers State Government declared:
“(i) from now on, requests for waivers and entry permits from oil and gas companies will be considered on a case by case basis.
“(ii) 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;
“(iii) 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.
Governor Wike sternly warned the Chief Medical Director of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital to 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.
“I wish to reiterate that 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.
“As a Government, we cannot abdicate this compelling responsibility and abandon our people to chances in the midst of this much dreaded and ravaging pandemic.”
The Rivers State Governor pointed out that the latest of these positive cases was the 14th case that was flown in to Port Harcourt by Bristow Helicopters from an offshore oilfield facility in Akwa Ibom State on the 29th of April 2020.
He said these positive cases have shown and confirmed 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 State.
“We have also observed with disappointment the persistent disobedience to the State Government’s lawful orders and or directives on COVID-19 by a number of communities and residents, especially in Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas despite repeated warning.
“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.
“In view of the foregoing, Government has resolved to impose additional measures by the Executive Order, I have just signed, which are targeted at reinforcing our efforts toward stopping the spread of the virus in the State”.
Governor Wike noted that while the State Government is battling the importation of this virus, the greatest threat to people’s lives is posed not from outsiders but by those residents who are refusing to comply with the established directives and change their behaviour to conform to the new experience.