- Gov says the place was not fit for a hotel
- In all my days, I never knew a hotel existed there
- Says one injured task force member now dead, says Prodest is den of cultists
- Wanted youth leader says he worked hard to make Wike governor
A primary school will soon spring up where Prodest Hotel recently existed. The other demolished hotel in Onne has also been confiscated by the government. The governor said on radio that the Prodest hotel site was not fit for a hotel. He also said he is a grassroots man and never in his life had he known a hotel existed there.
Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has brushed off skating attacks and condemnations over demolition of hotels and has announced plans to build a primary school on the two and half plots that had hosted one the hotels, Prodest.
This is as the state government announced Wednesday afternoon that one of the task force members that fought with the wanted man’s team has just died.
The governor expressed surprise that some prominent Nigerians and those he described as opposition press had continued to condemn the demolition of hotels but assured that he remains committed and focused on protecting Rivers people.
Speaking on behalf of the governor, the Commissioner of Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said: “The latest issue that has been hijacked by opposition elements is the demolition of two hotels in Eleme, after they deliberately flouted Executive Order 6. These two hotels, Prodest Hotel, Alode, and Edemeteh Hotel, Onne, not only flouted the Executive Order, the Hotel Manager of Prodest invited the wanted PDP Eleme Youth leader, Princewill Osaroejiji, who came with thugs to unleash mayhem on Task Force operatives on ground to close down the facility.”
Answering a question from newsmen, the commissioner said the second hotel is also government property and that a public facility would be established there, too.
“As we speak, one of the Task Force operative lost his life last night. Governor Wike and the Rivers State Security Council took the decision to demolish the hotel in the interest of Rivers State and her people. Days before that demolition, everyone was aware that the State Government sensitized the people on the consequence of flouting Executive Order 6.
“Having demolished that hotel, Gov Wike has approved that a primary school be constructed at that location to serve Rivers people. This is what a responsive government will do.”
The government said Eleme people are happy with the demolition. “In several publications they made after the demolition, they have declared that Prodest Hotel is a criminal hideout and a den for cultists.
“They added that Prodest Hotel is a centre for gun-running by the wanted PDP Youth leader. It was his criminal tendencies that emboldened him to unleash mayhem on State officials when the Hotel Manager invited him.
These are facts that the political analysts have turned away from. They have allowed their political enmity with Gov Wike to override their objective judgment.”
The governor questioned those he termed social media lawyers and their followers why only two hotels were demolished out of several hotels operating in Rivers State.
The government said: “Even the chairman of Nigeria Hotels Owners Association Rivers State Chapter, Mr Eugene Nwaizu, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt expressed surprise that the hotels that were not even registered with the body disobeyed the Executive Order.
Gov Wike seemed consoled by the support given to his action by a long-standing PDP member and seasoned legal luminary, Barr OCJ Okocha (SAN) who said Wike acted within the law under the present circumstances.
The government said: “We are saying, rather than mislead members of the public; those aggrieved should approach the courts for interpretation.
“As we speak, many offenders have been tried and convicted under the Executive Orders. This is not a lawless situation; Gov Wike is working hard to protect Rivers people within the ambit of the law.
“The Rivers State Government will remain focused. It will not be distracted by these unfortunate schemes by ill-mannered politicians, struggling for political space at the expense of their people.
As I close, I want to ask, why did the pro-APC media not report the mass demolitions by the Lagos State Government between April 22 and April 23, 2020. These demolitions rendered over 500 persons homeless. Not a single Newspaper mentioned these demolitions for reasons yet to be ascertained.
“Where are those displaced in the heat of the lockdown? Where are the women and children? Where are the lawyers, the civil society groups and other APC mercenaries? Are the displaced worthless?
“This was a fundamental crime against humanity, but it was swept under the carpet because it happened in Lagos.
I don’t need to mention the demolition of a night club in Abuja where 80 persons lost their livelihood. What about the demolitions of homes in Abuja during the lockdown? Civil rights lawyers and others looked the other way. We don’t need to mention Kaduna and several other States.
“For Rivers State, the demolition of the two hotels was carried out in line with the prescribed Executive Order known to all hoteliers in the State. It was also done to protect officials of the Rivers State Government who are implementing the Executive Order. No Government will allow its officials to be killed by thugs whilst they carry out lawful directive.”
The administration recounted several steps so far taken to fight the coronavirus and the commendations it has received from relevant organizations especially the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and promised to fight on.
If I was a wanted criminal, they wouldn’t have made me PDP youth leader – Ejiji
According to a statement from Alode Community Development Movement, Osaroejiji, said contrary to the governor’s accusation, he was not the owner of Prodest Hotel demolished by the governor.
He also said that it was not true that the hotel was open for business at the time the task force visited, and alleged that his offence was that he opposed the attempt by the task force members to extort money from the manager of the hotel.
Osaroejiji, who said he was also a member of the Covid-19 task force in Eleme, said he could not have been elected and inaugurated the PDP youth leader and member of the Covid-19 task force if he was a wanted criminal.
He recalled that he had worked hard for the victory of the governor in the 2019 general elections and ensured that the party won all the elections in his ward in the local government area.
Gov Wike had on Sunday demolished Prodest Hotel, Alode, and Edemete Hotel, Onne, for defying his executive order that all hotels in the state should remain closed during the Covid-19 pandemic. That was just a few hours after he declared Osaroejiji wanted for alleged criminal activities and placed a ransom of N5 million on him.