Rivers sets up task force to replace police at the boundaries

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Signs order to employ 3000 ‘sanitation marshals’

By Codratus Godson

Task Force members would soon take over the boundaries of Rivers State to ensure no person crosses into the state, according to a new order signed by Gov Nyesom Wike. The governor fears that federally-controlled security agencies may sabotage the order at the boundaries.

There have been reports of open and widespread bribery at the boundaries where individuals paid N500 to cross and buses paid N1000. Latest reports said the amount paid by individuals reduced to N200 by Sunday evening. At a time, some trucks said they jointly paid N1m to cross at Imo Rivers into Oyigbo local council area. Five persons died trying to cross the river by boat at night, bearing goods.

Gov Wike said at a press briefing last weekend that the team he sent to the boundaries confirmed the reports but wondered who would be trusted to do it. He called what was happening mere loophole. He seemed to plug it now.

A government statement said the governor unveiled the plan on Monday, April 19, 2020, and this would lead to the establishment of a Task Force to man her boundaries to ensure that Rivers people are protected from coronavirus.

Signing the Executive Order RVSG-02 No. 3 -2020 at the Government House Gov Wike said the Task Force would be in place because of the likelihood of sabotage from federal security agencies.

The governor had tried over the years to set up a state vigilante force but has been blocked at the court and by the Army which disbanded the trainees at the National Youth Corps Centre in Nonwa in Eleme localcouncil area. This was before the 2019 elections. This seems to be a new window.

Gov Wike now said: “This is the third Executive Order that I will be signing since the coronavirus pandemic started. This third Executive Order is very important.

“We suspect there will be sabotage on the part of the security agencies.  That is why we are appointing a task force to man our borders. We owe our people a duty to protect them. There is likely to be sabotage. Our task force will be at the borders  to protect our people.”

Gov Wike said that contrary to the falsehood being peddled on the release of the 22 Exxon Mobil staff, that it was strictly on the intervention of respected Nigerians and not due to the threat to embark on strike.

“No federal agency spoke to us, but there were respected Nigerians who intervened and they were released by 8am on Sunday. Exxon Mobil signed and agreed that they will take back their staff to Eket. That was the condition we gave for their release,” he said.

Gov Wike announced that the laws on restriction of movement must be implemented for the safety of everyone.

“On Sunday, we arrested some staff of BOA who violated the law. They have been arraigned in court and remanded,” he said.

He reiterated that coronavirus is no respecter of persons, pointing out that it has killed both influential and the less-privileged, hence the need to be more vigilant.

On the ‘Dumping of Waste in Public Places (Prohibition) Bill 2020’ , Gov Wike announced that the State Government would employ 3000 environmental sanitation marshals to implement the law.

He said that his administration is committed to the improvement of the sanitation of the State.

Majority leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Martins Amaehwule, said Dumping of Waste in Public Places (Prohibition) Bill 2020 will stop the dumping  of wastes on road median by residents.

Attorney-General of Rivers State, Zaccheus Adangor, said the two legal instruments signed by the Rivers State Governor would help in the fight against coronavirus.

He said the ‘Quarantine (Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other infectious diseases) Regulations’ (No. 2-2020) stipulates non-custodial sentences for offenders. He said that individuals will be fined 50,000 while corporate organizations will be N1million.

He said that the regulations direct the chief judge of Rivers State to assign a judge or magistrate to try offenders.

The Attorney-General of Rivers State said the Executive Order RVSG-02 No. 3 -2020 empowers the State Government to set up a Task Force to implement all legislations related to the fight against coronavirus.

Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Ikuinyi Ibani, commended the governor for his commitment to the defence of the State.

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