Also, troubles ahead as Gov directs traditional rulers to ensure closure of hotels, markets, etc in their domains
By Codratus Godson
What actually is the penalty for any building or vehicle that violates the latest order by the Rivers State on lockdown: The governor said during a broadcast that the task forces are to ‘confiscate and auction’ them. The next day, he told traditional rulers to help enforce the order and said he would demolish such buildings.
Worse, he is relying on task forces, traditional rulers and local council chairmen to enforce the order, thus handing over policing jobs to untrained civilians, many have pointed out.
Danger looms ahead in Rivers State as traditional rulers and local council chairmen have received order from Gov Nyesom Wike to enforce the total lockdown which includes closure of hotels, shops, markets, and loading bays.
The governor said during a broadcast on Monday that any hotel or taxi found in operation should be impounded and auctioned. The auctioning order has sent fears down the spines of the public as the order is to be enforced by task forces populated by young men that are dreaded in the state.
Many business operators fear the order could make the boys to take the laws into their hands as no legal processes may be followed anymore in selling off a hotel or someone’s taxi cab.
To give teeth to the order, the governor summoned all traditional rulers and local council chairmen in the state to the seat of power on Tuesday after which he directed them to act as enforcers of the new order. The traditional rulers and council bosses are known to control the youths in the various communities who would definitely be the enforcement armies.
They have been ordered to enforce the closure of markets, hotels and beer parlours across the State.
Addressing them, Gov Wike said; “Set up your own task force in your respective domains and implement the closure of markets, hotels and beer parlours.
“This Task Force is strictly for COVID-19. The State Government will support all traditional rulers to carry out these responsibilities”. He appealed to the traditional rulers to work with his administration to check the transmission of coronavirus.
The governor also called on local council bosses to ensure that they supported the monarchs to deliver on the directive.
On the almajiris, the governor said: “When they started relocating the Almajiris in the north, the FG said nothing. Immediately they heard that we have relocated some almajiris, they came up with the declaration that it is against the inter-state movement. Why this double standard?”
Governor Wike noted that his administration has continued to work on the state’s borders to ensure that they remained closed. He charged local council chairmen to take more stringent measures to stop the influx of persons.
The Governor warned that from Thursday any shop that opens in Obio/Akpor or Port Harcourt Local Government Area, the building would be demolished.
On the closure of markets, Governor Wike said that the State Food Purchasing Committee headed by the Secretary to the Rivers State Government would purchase all the foodstuffs and distribute them to the people.
“We will buy off all the foods in the markets and distribute to our people. All you need is to liaise with the office of the Secretary to the Rivers State Government and we will buy and distribute. No Market should be open anywhere in the state,” he said.
Commenting on the compulsory use of face masks, Gov Wike said that he will use politicians and Traditional Rulers as examples.
“I want to use politicians and traditional rulers as examples if they fail to wear face masks in their cars. If you are not wearing face masks in your cars, you will be arrested and prosecuted,” he said.
Gov Wike advised Rivers people not to wait for the support of FG al Government, but concentrate on the strategies to reduce the spread of the virus.
He said that anywhere a market continues to operate in the state, the traditional ruler will lose his recognition. “Go home and tell your people about this”.
“As the hotels remain closed, those coming in will have nowhere to stay. When we are safe, we can enjoy what we can. I am not doing this because I hate anyone, but it is for the protection of our people.
“No human being will see death and embrace it. We cannot kill ourselves. The only solution is ensure Social Distancing and proper hygiene”.
Responding, chairman of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, the king, Douglas Dandeson Jaja, thanked the Rivers State governor for involving the traditional rulers in the fight against coronavirus.
He assured the Rivers State Governor that the monarchs would live up to his expectations by carrying out the State Government’s directive.
King Jaja thanked Governor Wike for his palliatives to all the 23 local council areas of the State.