Tony John, Port Harcourt and Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, has announced that air, sea and land routes into the state will be closed to traffic, beginning from 6am today.
He stated this yesterday, in his statewide broadcast, saying the decision was in a bid to check the spread of coronavirus to Rivers.
“It is with gratitude to God that I announce to you that our state would have been infected with coronavirus yesterday, but for the vigilance of security agents who, acting on a tip-off, prevented an infected person from boarding a flight from Abuja to Port Harcourt.
“The infected person beat all security measures that were put in place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and was to sneak into Port Harcourt before security agents stopped her.
“Based on this alarming information, the state security council met yesterday and reviewed measures already put in place and decided there was urgent need to adopt stringent measures to protect those living and doing business in the state from the virus.
“The council has, therefore, taken the following painful decisions: with effect from 6pm today, the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa will not be open to air traffic.
“While we may not have the right to stop flights from entering Port Harcourt, we cannot allow anybody coming from the airport to enter our state.
“We are confident that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and other federal agencies will cooperate with us.
”Vehicular movements, in an out of the state, have been banned. In essence, no vehicle will leave Rivers for any other state and no vehicle will be allowed to enter the state,” he said.
The governor said the new measures would be in place till further notice, adding that the present situation required drastic measures.
He added that security agencies had been empowered to enforce the directive and there would be no sacred cow.
“At this time in our national life, we must shun primordial sentiments and face the reality on ground. I am confident that, God being on our side, the temporary hardship we are facing today will come to an end very soon,” the governor said.
Meanwhile, indication has emerged that Bayelsa would adopt a partial lockdown with effect from today to prevent the disease in the state.
Governor Douye Diri stated this when he spoke on the level of preparedness of the government to contain the disease when he met with members of the state task force on the COVID-19 on an inspection tour of isolation centres at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH).
Diri said due to the scarcity of the hand sanitizers, the state government would support NDUTH to help in the production of the product.
“NDUTH is now producing hand sanitizers and the state government would support NDUTH to produce more. As for borders, we are not only having land borders, we have sea borders. This afternoon, the task force, which I chair, is going to hold a meeting and come out with further directives and instructions to our people.”
He said there was no cause for alarm over being infected after reports confirmed the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, tested positive.
Diri’s name had surfaced in the media as among those whose names were being compiled by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control as those that had contact with Kyari.
According to him, he was shocked over reports that he met with Kyari during the National Economic Council meeting.
“I attended the NEC meeting. By alphabetical order, after Governor Mohammed of Bauchi is Bayelsa. That meeting held on Thursday of the same week, and as at that Thursday, Governor Mohammed has no contact at all with Atiku’s son or Kyari.
“In that meeting, Kyari was not part of it. I am actually taken by surprise when it was said I had contact with Kyari. Yes, I had contact with Mohammed, we extended pleasantries and held ourselves but the truth was that at that moment, Mohammed had not met with Kyari neither as he met with Atiku’s son,” he said.