Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has announced the temporary lifting of lockdown measures on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas for two days with effect from tomorrow, Tuesday, May 12th.
Governor Wike made the announcement Sunday night in a state-wide broadcast, saying that the temporary lockdown would last until Wednesday, May 13th.
“Consequently, we have given due consideration to the propositions on the way forward by well-meaning citizens of the State and, after a cautious review of the situation, decided to implement a partial relaxation of the lockdown measures to enable residents to have some fresh air and replenish their foodstuffs and medicines.
“To this end, I hereby announce the temporary lifting of the total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas for two days only, with effect from Tuesday, May 12, 2020.
“All shops, supermarkets, and malls can open to the public for Tuesday and Wednesday, 12 and 13 May 2020.
“Similarly, all hospitals and banks can also open and provide full services to the public.
“While oil and gas companies are required to submit the list of their staff on essential duties to government, note that there is no ban on the lifting of petroleum products from depots and other receptacles.
“The total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas will be reinstated on Thursday, May 14, 2020, and remain until further notice,” he stressed.
Governor Wike said all other established restrictions under the Executive Orders on social distancing were still in force.
He urged: “Please, note that our enemy is invisible. Stay at home, maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly and stay safe.”
He said every measure the state government has imposed was dictated by an assessment of the state’s situation, the trend of transmission and the conviction that it was the right thing to do in the circumstance.
Wike explained: “As a government, we are doing our utmost best, in the face of daunting challenges, to prevent COVID-19 from taking hold in Rivers State, to stop any possible community transmission of this disease before it is too late.
“And we shall continue on this trajectory because the alternative would spell a greater disaster for our state and our people.
“More so, when these are not arbitrary measures, but fully prescribed and backed by the ordinary laws of our state, especially Executive Orders numbers 1 to 6.
“So far, all our measures and actions 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 throughout the State.
“As a government, we are obliged to enforce our laws and, in the present circumstance, we have done so without fear or favour,” he said.
The governor added: “We equally made it loud and clear that in the fight against COVID-19 there would be no sacred cows, no double standards, and no sentiments of any kind, whether political, ethnic, religious, status, emotional or otherwise.
“In the last few days, we have pursued with vigour and secured several convictions against those who intentionally violated our COVID-19 containment laws in the same way others states are doing.
“The forfeited trucks to be auctioned by the Deputy Sheriff were not confiscated arbitrarily by the state government, but by the orders of our court,” he further explained.
Governor Wike stated that the demolition of the two hotels in Eleme was done in line with extant laws.
“Similarly, we acted against the hotelier because, apart from using the facility to jeopardize the lives of our citizens in violation of the extant law, the owner audaciously unleashed thugs lead by the Eleme Local Government Youth Leader of the People’s Democratic Party and inflicted severe injuries on our task force members who went to enforce the law against the continued operation of the hotel.
“As we speak, nobody knows the fate of the lives of most of the victims of that brazen and deadly attack given the severity of the head injuries they sustained.
“And so, we have 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,” Wike insisted.
The governor said he remained focused on protecting the people of Rivers.
“Therefore, while we welcome genuine criticisms directed towards strengthening our intervention measures, it is 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 demonise and paint our lawful and responsible actions in a 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 State.
“We, therefore, thank the entire people of Rivers State for the overwhelming understanding you have shown, even as you continue to endure the pains of the restrictions on your wellbeing and fundamental freedoms”, he said.