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COVID-19: Wike Heads Task Force To Enforce Orders …As State C’ttee Activates Social Media Platforms, Today …RSG Shuts Oil Mill Market …Panic In Aso Villa As Kyari, Three Staff Test Positive …Osinbajo Goes Into Self-Isolation, Bauchi Gov Tests Positive

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The Rivers State Government has set up a 12-man task force on the enforcement of ban on public gatherings and places of worship in order to check the spread of Coronavirus.
A statement by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, said that the task force is headed by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
Other members include, the Commissioner of Police; Garrison Commander, 6 Division of the Nigerian Army; Air Force Commander; Naval Commander; State Director, Department of State Services; State Commandant, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps; Secretary to the State Government; Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice; Chief of Staff, Government House; and the Commissioner for Health while the Commissioner for Information and Communications will serve as secretary.
According to the statement, the task force will hold its inaugural meeting, today, by 11am at the Government House, Port Harcourt, and advised members to be seated by 10.30am.
Meanwhile, the five-man Rivers State Inter-ministerial Committee on Enlightenment and Awareness Creation on COVID-19 says that in continuation of its aggressive campaign, it will activate all its social media platforms, today, and carry out sensitisation to car parks and markets going forward.
Making this known, yesterday, Chairman of the committee, and Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said alongside activating the social media platforms, the committee will also engage road transport workers and tricycle (Keke) drivers to further send the Coronavirus messages across to the people.
The chairman, who stated this as part of efforts to explain what the committee has been doing since its inauguration on March 12, to the Rivers State House of Assembly Joint Committee on Health and Information in his office, also stated that while all the engagements with various stakeholder groups had been fruitful, the one with the International Oil Companies (IOCs) was “productive.
“What we want to do, beginning from tomorrow (Wednesday) is to activate all the social media platforms, so that we will begin to feed content into those social media platforms in order to reach as many people as possible, knowing that the platforms are one key area with considerably large patronage. We will also engage road transport workers and Keke (tricycle) owners”, he said.
In furtherance of the campaign, the chairman said, “tomorrow, environmental health officers will be engaged to take the message to the streets.
“From tomorrow, we’ll engage environmental health officers. They’ll begin street-to-street campaign and they will start with the markets and (car) parks. Thereafter, street-to-street. They will go with megaphones, through which messages will be conveyed to the people, while also distributing flyers”, he said.
The commissioner also stated that car stickers bearing apt messages on the Coronavirus will be produced and distributed, in addition to vests, which will be worn by the environmental health officers.
Nsirim explained that shortly after its inauguration by Governor Nyesom Wike, the committee embarked on engaging key stakeholder groups, which started with Community Development Committees (CDCs) of all the 23 local government areas of the state.
This was followed by engagement with religious groups, the media, principals/head/teachers/proprietors of schools, traders association/National Union of Road Transport Workers(NURTW), the military/paramilitary/police, IOCs an and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
Of all, Nsirim said the meeting with the IOCs was productive to the extent that they had already activated internal measures of checking the infection with the Coronavirus, and its spread should there be the need.
This, he stated, is in addition to the IOCs’ promise to provide assistance to the state government in the fight against the virus.
“Our meeting with the IOCs was very productive. They too have been proactive: they have a lot of expatriate staff, and on their own, they’ve been doing self-quarantine, and working closely with the Ministry of Health, each time they notice any suspected case among their staff.
“They’re also reducing work hours, the number of personnel that come to work each day as a way of enhancing social distancing. They’ve also assured us of their collaboration in terms of technical expertise and provision of equipment”, he said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the House of Assembly Joint Committee on Health and Information, Hon Samuel Ogeh, had explained the reason for the meeting with the inter-ministerial committee.
According to him, the State Assembly sent them to interface with the committee, to find out what was being done “in respect of the dissemination of information and sensitization of the citizenry.
“We want to hear from you what measures you have put in place, and how you’re going about it, how you’re interfacing with the general public in terms of reaching out to them and keeping them informed”, he said.
On his part, the state Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, explained the technicalities involved in the enlightenment campaign and coping with exigencies of the moment as they arise in the course of checking the Coronavirus.
He explained what has been done so far medically, and some of the challenges for which everything possible was being done to resolve.
Members of the Assembly Committee at the meeting also included the committee’s Co-Chairman, Hon Enemi Alabo-George; Hon Christian Ahiakwo; and Hon Ansalem Ogugwo, while the inter-ministerial committee also had in attendance the Commissioner for Youths, Hon Prince Ohia Obi, and his Chieftaincy counterpart, Barrister Olisa Elloka Tasie-Amadi.
Similarly, the Rivers State Government has closed down the popular Oil Mill Market in Port Harcourt.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, who made the disclosure in a statement yesterday said the closure of the market is with effect from today.
According to the statement, anyone found trading in the market will be arrested by security agents.
In a related development, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, yesterday afternoon, toured the Presidential Villa beginning from the Office of the Chief Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
It is believed that the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who was not in the office, yesterday, might have gone into self-isolation.
Also on self-isolation is the Deputy Chief of Staff, Ade Ipaye.
Osinbajo and Kyari sat close to each other at the last Federal Executive Council meetings held in the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
Their seats were separated by that of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
Osinbajo had also presided over the National Executive Council.
Kyari, last Monday tested positive for COVID-19.
Kyari, who was on a trip to Germany on March 7, to meet with officials of Siemens in Munich on Nigerian electricity expansion programme, returned to the country on March 14.
According to a top government functionary, Kyari “is in self-isolation where he’s being monitored by medical personnel because he’s not showing severe symptoms of the disease.”
Asked if he had been moved to Abuja University Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada where victims of COVID-19 are being treated, the source replied: “It is not compulsory that everyone who tests positive must be taken to the hospital.
“If the patient is not showing severe symptoms of COVID-19, he can merely be given a bed rest”, noting that most of the victims of the disease naturally recover.
The source added that over 80 per cent of victims recover without any intervention.
“He may test positive and not show severe symptoms and so be in self-isolation. The symptoms in over 80 per cent cases are mild as they manifest modestly. Most people will recover without intervention. Fatality is common in old people.
“They only have to be monitored to find that the situation is not deteriorating. He can be on bed rest and be given drugs related to the symptoms he’s showing. If the symptom is fever, he can be given Paracetamol.
“He will be given water to help him hydrate. His blood sample will be taken to know that he’s not showing any sign of deterioration. The treatment given to them is just to support the immune system,” he said.
According to him, most of the victims of the disease who die are those who show respiratory symptoms like pneumonia and that is why ventilators are needed.
Also, Kyari’s staff as well as presidential aides who had had contact with him have been asked to self-isolate.
The source disclosed that no tests would be done on them unless they show symptoms of the virus, explaining that this is because there is limited number of test kits.
“Tests are done if only people are showing symptoms. If they are not showing symptoms, they will only be told to self-isolate. They will not be tested until they are showing symptoms.
“It’s on account of limited kits that this is done. Ideally, everybody should be tested because there are some people that are not showing the symptoms and are positive. We have people from high-burdened countries but there are no kits. It is not prudent to use the kits for those that are not showing the signs.”
The committee led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, all wore face masks.
They went in through the permanent secretary’s wing and came out from the chief of staff’s wing, in a tour that lasted almost 40 minutes.
When approached to comment on the purpose of the visit, Mustapha said “you will be briefed later,” as he led his team members out of the office.
Other members of the committee were National Coordinator for the fight against COVID19, Dr. Sani Aliyu; the Ministers of Health, Interior, Aviation, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and Education.
Others were Minister of Information and Culture, Minister of Environment, Director-General, Department of Security Service, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organization Country Representative.
However, as part of measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19, the Media Department of the Presidential Villa has reduced the number of accredited journalists covering the Villa to 20 for the next two weeks.
Accredited journalists who are over 100 in number, will now take turns to cover the Presidential Villa.
President Muhammadu Buhari met separately with the Governor of Katsina, Hon Aminu Masari; the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd); Director-General, Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu.
Journalists were not briefed at the end of the meeting.
In the same vein, there are palpable fears at the State House as three staff of the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari tested positive for Coronavirus, yesterday.
A presidential source confirmed the development.
However, all the aides at the Vice President’s wing with the exception of his media aide did not turn up for work.
A source said the VP reported late to work, last Monday afternoon unlike him.
Most of his aides had face masks and hand gloves on when they came to work last Monday.
But for now, the Villa is on a gradual lockdown as none essential staff have been asked to stay away.
Meanwhile, President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, now tested positive for Coronavirus, had contacts with many people since his return from Germany on March 14.
And there are emergent fears he may have spread the virus to them.
Apart from Buhari, who has tested negative, Kyari also interacted with Minister of Power, Engineer Mamman Sale.
Both travelled to Germany together.
On Twitter, yesterday, Nigerians called out the engineer to quickly self-isolate.
They also criticised him for hosting the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard on March 19.
Kyari also regularly interacted with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with whom he normally sits at the Federal Executive Council meetings.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who now heads the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 was also another Kyari contact.
So was the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
Others are President Buhari’s SSA Media, Garba Shehu; and Minister of Special Duties, Senator George Akume; and Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Kyari visited Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello on March 17 on his return from Germany, to deliver Buhari’s message to Bello at the prayers marking the eighth days since the death of Bello’s mum.
Lai Mohammed, Akume, Shehu were all at the event.
Only yesterday, the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, confirmed that he has tested positive for Coronavirus.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Mukhtar Gidado, disclosed this in a media statement made available, yesterday.
The governor earlier said he met and shook hands with Mohammed, the son of former Vice-President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, who tested positive for COVID-19, last Sunday.
In Lagos, despite shutting down schools, night clubs, banning burial, wedding activities, and restraining religious gatherings, the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, ordered the temporary closure of all markets that are not selling essential commodities like medical equipment, water, foodstuff with effect from Thursday.
Sanwo-Olu said this in a press briefing, yesterday evening.
During the briefing, he said: “It is not a total lockdown, we still want people on essential services to go about their normal activities.
“We are trying to de-centralise markets in Lagos. This is why we want to use some of our closed schools as markets, so people can buy food and medicine without going a long distance.
“It is only when you are alive that you can talk about economics and finance.”
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku has sent a short word of prayer to Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, after he reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
Atiku in a tweet said: “My thoughts and prayers are with Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. Allah ya kare mu gabaki daya, kuma ya bashi lafiya. –AA”.
It was reported that Abba Kyari had been in Germany, one of the countries rocked by Coronavirus on official assignment.
Nevertheless, cases of Coronavirus infection in Nigeria have risen to 42, according to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Two new cases were recorded, yesterday, adding to the already existing 40 cases to take the tally to 42.
According to the NCDC, two new cases of the disease had been confirmed in Nigeria, saying one of the cases was in Lagos and the other in Ogun State.
The centre said one of the cases was that of a returning traveller, while second case was a contact of a previously confirmed case.
“As at 1pm on March 24, there are 42 confirmed cases of #COVID19 in Nigeria-2 discharged, 2 deaths,” it said.
On Monday, nine new Coronavirus cases were recorded in Nigeria.
This brought the total to 40 as at Monday, but two new cases, yesterday take it to 42.
However, there is anxiety written in the faces of many Nigerians.

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Governor Wike Releases N450M To 2019 Presidential Election Violence Victims In Abonnema

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The State Chief Executive Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has released the sum of Four hundred and fifty million naira to the victims of the 2019 Presidential election violence in Abonnema.
Speaking during  a meeting preparatory to giving out the cash, Governor Wike  said the gesture is in fulfilment of his promise to the people of Abonnema  at the Church service to honour those who lost their lives, the injured and those who lost properties during the crisis.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government Dr. Tammy Wenike  Danagogo, Governor Wike said no amount of money could adequately compensate the people for the harrowing experience they suffered in the hands of the Nigerian Army, stating that he appreciates the support and commitment of the People of  Akuku Toru Local Government Area before, during and after the elections. He said he would continue to execute programmes that would positively impact on the lives of the people of the  Area.
He assured them that the second phase of the Abonnema ring road would be commissioned before the end of June, stressing that the contractor has been fully paid.
According to him in the face of the Covid 19 Pandemic he has continued to stand by the People of the State by taking practical steps not only to protect Rivers People but to also provide palliatives to bring succour to the vulnerable and less privileged unlike the   selfish politicians in other political  parties who only visit the people to solicit for votes during elections but do not have the interest of the people at heart.
In his remarks the Amayanabo of Abonnema King Disrael  Gbobo Bobmanuel thanked  Governor Wike for fulfilling his promise to the Abonnema People, noting that the Governor has proven over the years that his word is his bond.
According to him the Governor is a man worthy of trust and support because he has fulfilled all his promises to the Abonnema People. He Advised beneficiaries to make judicious use of the Money the Governor has graciously given to them.
Earlier the Chairman of Akuku Toru Local Government Area Hon. Roland Sekibo who said he is still traumatized by the events that took place during the Presidential election in 2019 expressed gratitude to Governor Wike for his kind gesture, stressing that the People of his Local Government Area would continue to support the Governor in his quest to improve the lives of Rivers People.
Also speaking one of the beneficiaries Mr  Minamiango Romeo  who sustained gunshot injuries  expressed gratitude to Governor Wike for not abandoning them in their time of need and promised to continue to support his Administration and the leaders of the Local Government Area.
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PROBE: EFCC Should Stop Media Trial – Rivers State Government

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The Rivers State Government says its attention has been drawn to a fresh wave of media trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against the officials of the state.

According  to a statement issued by the state Commissioner for information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, “the latest attempt contained in today’s edition( May 24,2020)of The Nation Newspaper alleged that the State Government has refused to release top officials for interrogation in connection to the withdrawal of N118 billion in cash between 2015 and 2018.

 

“We have repeatedly said that the State Government will not release its officials to the EFCC for investigations until the commission approaches the Court  to set aside Subsisting orders of perpetual  injunction granted by various courts of competent jurisdiction restraining the EFCC from investigating or inquiring into the financial transactions of the Rivers  State Government including its ministries, departments and  agencies.

 

“In view of these  Subsisting judgments, it would amount  to an act of brazen  illegality for the EFCC to  insist  on  interrogating  any official OF the Rivers State Government.
For the avoidance of doubt, no official of the Rivers State Government would appear before the EFCC until the subsisting judgments in favour of the Rivers State Government are set aside on appeal.

“Resorting to the Media can only be described as cheap blackmail and witch-hunt to turn away public attention from the development strides in the State.

“This media trial that they engage in all the time will not take the place of our extant laws no matter how hard they try.

“The EFCC should stop playing to the gallery and pursue its war against corruption within the ambits of the law.

 

“Rivers State Government is committed to the Rule of Law and cannot be intimidated by the EFCC.

“Those who want to use the EFCC to promote their political agenda in the State will fail because we know their antics.

“Targeting Rivers State for this occasional media trial should be seen by the public for what it is, “political witch-hunt,” the statement said.

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Rivers Records 27 New Coronavirus Cases …Manager Of Prodest Hotel Among The New Cases

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Rivers State has recorded 27 new positive coronavirus  cases.

A statement signed by the Rivers state Ministry of Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, disclosed that the Manager of Prodest Hotel, Eleme is among the new positive cases.

According to the statement, the latest development validates the State Government’s proactive approach towards the fight against COVID-19.

Recall that Prodest Hotel was demolished two weeks ago because the owners violated Executive Order 7 which banned the operation of hotels.

The COVID-19 Taskforce members from the Local Government who went to enforce the Executive Order were brutalized and dehumanised leading to the death of one of them.

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