A STATE-WIDE BROADCAST BY HIS EXCELLENCY, NYESOM EZENWO WIKE, GOVERNOR OF RIVERS STATE ON FRIDAY MAY 8, 2020.
My Dear Good People of Rivers State,
2. Yesterday, May 7th 2020, the additional measures, including the 24 hours lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas came into effect as prescribed in our Executive Order No. 006.
3. I have personally gone around to monitor the extent of compliance with these measures, which were directed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and advancing public health and safety in our State.
4. Let me express my appreciation to the overwhelming majority of Rivers people for complying with the “Stay at Home and Stay Safe” orders, including the temporary closure of business outfits and activities throughout the State.
5. In particular, I wish to commend the Rumuigbo community vigilante for rising to the challenge, as any responsibly community should do, by intercepting a lorry-load of livestock with 50 persons who illegally entered the State in violation of the lockdown orders.
6. For this show of courage and patriotism, the State Government will reward the Rumuigbo community with the sum of N5,000,000.00 only.
7. However, quite unfortunately, there are some residents who have chosen to put themselves and the larger public at the risk of infection with their irresponsible show of disobedience to our restrictions on human and vehicular movements during the lockdown.
8. As a Government, a strong one for that matter, we have the responsibility to act decisively on the side of the law to safeguard the safety of our State and its residents.
9. Consequently, we will not shirk in this duty and unleash the full and severe weight of the law against any person or body of persons, who attempts to put themselves and other innocent people at the risk of spreading this disease in Rivers State.
10. While we appreciate the intervention and plea of clemency from well-meaning Rivers citizens, it is our position not to condone any sentiments on this matter because of the seriousness of the situation.
11. What we can assure everyone is that all those arrested for violating the relevant Executive Orders would certainly have their day in court and due process would be the hallmark of any punishment that they may suffer if duly convicted as prescribed by our ordinary laws.
12. Accordingly, the undermentioned vehicles, whose owners have been convicted and the ownership thereof already forfeited to the State, will duly be auctioned by the Deputy Sheriff of the State High Court:
(i) IVICO Truck with Reg. No. KBK 336 XA;
(ii) DAF Truck with Reg. No. Adanawa MUB 20 YH;
(iii) HOWO Truck with Reg. No. Adamawa HNG 608 XA; and
(iv) DAF Truck with Regi. No. PKM 48594 XA
13. Truth be told, those who claim to be conveying essential food items into the State during this period of total lockdown are barefaced liars who are up to something more sinister.
14. How and who can they sell their items to when all the markets, hotels and business outfits in the state have been closed down? Let all be warned that we’ll have none of such tricks in Rivers State at this very trying period.
15. We are faced with an invisible and deadly enemy, which we can only ignore, dismiss or toyed with at our own peril. COVID-19 is a disease you cannot wish even for your worst enemy.
16. This was why we imposed some of the most extreme measures you can ever imagine, painful as they are, to fight and keep the transmission of coronavirus in Rivers State under control as commanded by both law and duty.
17. Unfortunately, despite our determined efforts, the State recorded three new cases, bringing our total confirmed COVID-19 infections to 17 as at the 7th of May 2020.
18. While two of the new cases were contacts of an existing case, the third case is from the Diobu area of Port Harcourt, who has no travel history or conceivable contact with any other contaminated person.
19. This situation points to two critical scenarios, which we must pay attention to. First, the threat of COVID-19 among us, is real, and second, the threat is growing as the number in infections and localities continues to rise and expand.
20. Under such situation, we are, once again, constrained to express our concerns over the outrageous actions of our enemies who continue to destabilize the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in our State.
21. Our borders continue to experience serial acts of sabotage by security operatives, who allow, and in some cases, personally aid persons with risky COVID-19 status into the State.
22. As recently as yesterday, we intercepted a lorry-load of livestock with 22 persons who bribed their ways into Rivers State from as far as Adamawa State despite the Federal Government’s claimed restriction on inter-state travels and our definitive closure of all entry routes into the State.
23. Even today, we intercepted, yet, another 8 trucks with 200 persons hidden in loads of grains and being smuggled into the State from the northern parts of the country.
24. Indeed, the extent of sabotage was such that, even a Deputy Commissioner of Police unilaterally appropriated and exercised powers to illegally issue movement pass to individuals and companies indiscriminately in utter contempt and direct violation of the lockdown orders of the State Government.
25. And so, as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to graduate and make its way through the State, these actions, inactions and counter-actions from the the security agencies are rather amplifying the risk of a public health disaster in our State.
26. From all indications, no matter what we do or try to do to fight this battle, it is becoming clear by each day that those forces bent on forcing COVID-19 pandemic on our State are not willing to cease their evil plot and intentions.
27. This being so, it has become imperative to alert the State and in deed, the entire world, of the fact that a dangerous escalation of COVID-19 pandemic in Rivers State looms large in our horizon due largely to the hypocrisy of the Federal Government and the continuous acts of willful sabotage by security agencies.
28. Therefore, while we cannot overstate the gravity of our present predicament, nobody should be surprised should Rivers State witness exponential increases in the infection and spread of COVID-19 cases in the days and weeks ahead as we begin intense testing.
29. Nevertheless, our resolve and commitment remain strong and total; and as we continue to urge everyone of us to treat this as a matter of life or death, our message to you remains constant: obey our directives to stay at home and protect yourself, your family and our State from the spread of COVID-19. There is certainly no choice on this. Staying at home and staying safe for now is not just mandatory; it is the best available option in the circumstance.
30. I wish to reiterate our appreciation to all residence for the very impressive level of compliance with our stay at home orders and assure you that the State Security Council will soon meet to review the situation and direct as appropriate.
31. Finally, in spite of the challenges, we are quite confident that our State and our lives are safe in the hands of God, who will continue to fight our battles and protect us from the evil wishes of our enemies, as we constantly pray and do the needful on our own part, by staying at home, regularly washing our hands and maintaining social distancing.
32. Thank you and God bless you all.