Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has given a detailed account of how he demolished two hotels belonging to residents of the state, giving reasons for the much-criticised action which has been trending in the Nigerian media since Sunday.
Wike said the immediate incident that triggered off the action, was the physical attacks unleashed on the committee enforcing the lockdown order imposed on the state by the government and the bodily harm they sustained while trying to enforce the order at the said hotels.
In a broadcast to the state on Sunday against the backdrop of the backlash generated by the action in terms of negative public outcries, the governor, maintained that he did no wrong, but was merely enforcing the executive orders he proclaimed to put the measure in place, aimed principally to contain the spread of the COVID-19 as much as possible.
Wike’s address came at a time the state also placed N5million bounty on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Youth Leader in Eleme Local Government Area of the state, whose property was also demolished.
He said: “Apart from using the facility (hotel) to jeopardise lives of citizens in violation of the extant law, the owner audaciously unleashed thugs led by Eleme LG Youth Leader of PDP and inflicted severe injuries on our task-force members who went to enforce the law against continued operation of the hotel.
“As we speak, nobody knows the fate of most of the victims of that brazen and deadly attack given the severity of head injuries they sustained. And so, we’ve done no wrong as all our actions were taken in good faith and justified by, under and within the purview of the Executive Orders, which have neither been challenged nor set aside by any competent court of law.”
“While we welcome genuine criticisms towards strengthening our intervention measures, no use joining issues with uninformed critics and social media legal practitioners, who, blinded and prodded by sheer politics, bias and hatred, have opted to demonize and paint our lawful and responsible actions in bad light.
“Granted that we may not have totally achieved our targets, but we are convinced that, so far, the lockdown and the other measures have impacted greatly in containing and preventing the onslaught of the pandemic on Rivers.”
The governor, who subsequently declared a two-day relaxation of the lockdown in Port Harcourt and Obio Akpor LGAs for just Monday and Tuesday, to allow residents restock food and medicines, said the measures would resume from Wednesday till further notice.
“I announce temporary lifting of the total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt LGAs for two days only, with effect from Tuesday 12th May 2020. All shops, supermarkets, and malls can open to the public for Tuesday and Wednesday. Similarly, all hospitals and banks can also open and provide full services to the public.
“While Oil and gas companies are required to submit list of staff on essential duties to Government, note that there is no ban on the lifting of petroleum products from depots and other receptacles. Total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas will be reinstated Thursday 14th May 2020 and remain until further notice,” he added.
He added: “All other established restrictions under the executive orders on social distancing are still in force, including, compulsory wearing of face mask or scarves in vehicles and public places, closure of all entry routes into the state.”
“So far, all our measures and actions against Covid-19 are not arbitrary but fully prescribed, guided and backed by the ordinary laws of our State, especially Executive Order numbers 1 to 6, which apply equally to all persons.”