The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has berated the Federal Government for politicizing the fight against the spread of Coronavirus, describing the selective support to states as unfortunate.
In a broadcast, yesterday, Wike condemned the exclusion of Rivers State from the Federal Government grants in the fight against Coronavirus.
He noted that despite the exclusion of the state, Federal Government has continued to endanger the state by flying expatriates into Rivers State.
Wike said: “It is quite unfortunate that the containment of Coronavirus has been politicized by the Federal Government. While Lagos State received a grant of N10billion as a commercial hub, Rivers State as the nation’s oil and gas hub that produces a greater percentage of the nation’s wealth has not received any support from the Federal Government.
“One wonders why Federal Government should single out a state out of 36 states to give support. Does it mean that support will come when a state has a record of over 50 infected persons before it gets support. No state should be seen as more important than any other state. This is a Federal Republic. No state is superior to others.
“Rivers State is entitled to support from the Federal Government. Every day, we are inundated with letters from the Federal Government to allow oil companies to fly in expatriates to drill oil. Then we ask, what is the status of those coming from Lagos? Nobody has told us their status as regards Coronavirus.
“If they come to come Rivers without us knowing their status, what will be implication assuming they have the virus.”
Wike announced that all markets in the state shall operate between 7am and 12noon on April 7 and April 8, 2020 to allow residents shop for Easter and also replenish their stock of foodstuffs.
He declared that Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market will remain closed till further notice.
He said: “All markets in the state except Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market at Trans-Amadi shall be open on Tuesday, April 7, and Wednesday, April 8, 2020 from 7am to 12noon. After those two days, the markets will remain closed. This is to enable residents shop for Easter and also replenish their stock of foodstuffs.
“Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market at Trans Amadi shall remain closed till further notice.”
The governor announced the dissolution of the board of RTC for the notorious operation of illegal franchise scheme.
“The Board of the Rivers State Transport Company (RTC) has been dissolved with immediate effect. All those operating a franchise scheme in the name of the company are advised to desist forthwith. Anyone who violates this directive, will be arrested and prosecuted. Government took this measure because the franchise scheme of RTC has become notorious for illegal activities that compromise the interest of the state,” he said.
Wike directed security agencies to fish out and prosecute persons who slaughter animals in the Bush for public consumption.
He said: “Our people must understand that lives are more important than profit.
“We are constrained to note again that despite our directive, commercial vehicle operators have refused to maintain social distancing. Their action portends grave danger because they place the entire society at risk of the virus.”
The governor announced the setting up of a committee to work out modalities for implementation of the state government’s palliative programme.
“In line with our decision to provide palliatives to cushion the hardship being faced by our people, government has decided to set up a committee to work out modalities for the smooth implementation of this directive. This committee reflects all interest groups.
“The members are: Amb Desmond Akawor (chairman), Mrs Inime Aguma, Dr Bariere Thomas, Chief David Briggs, Mrs Florence Amiesimaka, Mrs Stella Ichenwo, Mrs Anthonia Kpakol, Hon. Edison Ehie, Mr Samuel Nwanosike, Hon Hope Ikiriko, Mr Latteh Loolo, ACP Innocent Umerie (representative of Nigeria Police Force), Hassan Yahaya (DSS), Lt-Col Bello (Nigerian Army), AC Mathew Pama (Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps), Wing Commander Comfort Visah (Nigerian Air Force), Lt-Commander C.J. Udeh (Nigerian Navy) Ven Richard Opara, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Diepriye, Monsignor Pius Kii, Archbishop Felix Ezebunwo, Mrs Vivian Braide, Prince Ohia and Pastor Paulinus Nsirim (Secretary).
“This committee will be inaugurated tomorrow, Monday, April 6, 2020 at the Government House, Port Harcourt by 12noon. Attendance of the inauguration ceremony will be strictly for members of the committee,” he said.
Wike gave an update on the state’s index case, saying that she will be discharged soon.
He said: “We are grateful to God that the index case of the virus is now negative. As soon as we receive the confirmation result, she will be discharged from the treatment centre. We also thank our frontline health professionals who have displayed a deep sense of professionalism and patriotism during this trying period.
“The state government is also grateful to all Rivers people and private individuals who have contributed to support us in this fight. At the appropriate time, government will publish the names of these individuals.
“May I urge our religious leaders to continue to intercede on behalf of the state as we fight to contain this virus.
Once again, let me restate that with your continued support, Rivers State will remain safe.”
Wike emphasised that all borders of the State remains closed.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government will today, inaugurate the 24-member committee set up to work out modalities for the implementation of palliatives to cushion the hardship faced by citizens of the state as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
A statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications and Secretary of the committee, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, advised members of the committee to be seated at 11.30a.m, adding that attendance of the inauguration ceremony would be strictly for members of the committee.
Meanwhile, The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, announced that his administration has set in motion the platform for the distribution of food palliatives to Rivers people following the sit-at-home directive to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus in the state.
Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, yesterday, after inspecting the State Food Bank established for the distribution of the food palliatives, Wike explained that a state committee would be set up to implement the distribution of the foodstuffs.
Wike was accompanied by service commanders, who are members of the State Task Force on Enforcement of the Ban on Public and Religious Gatherings.
The governor said: “We inspected where we kept the relief materials for our palliative programme. Our intention is to ensure that we mitigate the impact of the sit-at-home directive.
“We are going to set up a committee for the distribution of the foodstuffs meant to serve as palliative for Rivers people.”
At the State Food Bank, the state government has rice, garri, beans, noodles, yam, palm oil and salt to be distributed to the less privileged in all the 23 local government areas.
Wike warned against the politicisation of the fight against Coronavirus, saying that all stakeholders must make sacrifices.
“We say to our people, this is not a time to play politics. Nobody should play politics with the lives of people. Everybody has to make sacrifices to make sure everyone stays alive,” he said.
The Rivers State governor said that the state government is prepared to tackle the deadly virus.
He said: “For now, we are not hundred percent ready, but we are about 90 per cent ready. Luckily for us, we have no serious cases.
“The confirmed case is doing very well. They have sent her samples and it came out negative. The final sample has been sent and we are expecting the results.
“We are doing quite well. All members of the State Security Council are working together to ensure that we prevent the spread of Coronavirus.”
On the monitoring of the compliance by churches, the governor said the task force was happy with the level of cooperation from the churches.
Wike said: “We are happy with the level of compliance that we have seen throughout Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City local government areas. The churches complied.”
The task force monitored compliance at Omega Power Ministries (OPM); Saint Patrick’s Anglican Church, Rukpokwu; and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Chaplaincy, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Rumuibekwe.
Wike also inspected the progress of work at the State Isolation/Treatment Centre under construction.
“We have visited this location to see the readiness of the isolation/treatment centre in Port Harcourt. Even though they failed to deliver the job on Saturday as promised, we are confident in the next four days, it would have been completed”, he said.
Rivers Assembly Approves MTEF …As Wike Presents Budget, Today …Sets Aside N2.7bn For LG Polls
The Rivers State House of Assembly, yesterday, passed and approved the state’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2021 to 2023.
It also announced formal plans by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to present the 2021 budget, today.
This follows a letter from the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to the House for the approval of the MTEF 2021 to 2023.
The Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Martin Amaewhule, who led the debate on the floor of the House, said the state Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2021 to 2023 was in line with the state’s Fiscal Responsibility Law of 2010.
The Speaker, Rt. Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, in his submission, said the MTEF would have positive impact in the state.
As part of plans to present the state’s 2021 Appropriation Bill to the House, the Rivers State Executive Council had after a meeting, last Monday, approved a budget proposal of N478, 660, 773, 476 for 2021 fiscal year.
The Commissioner for Finance, Hon Isaac Kamalu, who briefed journalists after the meeting, at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt, said the proposed budgetary estimate would help government to accomplish all ongoing projects in the state, and also enable the government to make life better for the people.
Kamalu, who is also supervises the state Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, said the council further approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for the state for 2021-2023.
Also addressing the journalists, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said that the council further approved a budget for the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC).
The budget would enable the state electoral umpire to conduct the 2021 Local Government Elections tentatively in April.
According to him, a total sum of N2, 747, 351, 405.13 was approved for RSIEC, which is expected to conduct the local government election in line with 1999 Constitution.
Nsirim further said that the council also approved the construction of a new motor park within the precinct of the newly commissioned Rebisi Flyover, which is intended to curb activities of illegal park operators in that axis.
“This is in line with the urban renewal vision of His Excellency. Recall that the new Rebisi Flyover Bridge that was commissioned a few weeks ago has changed the landscape and skyline in that vicinity.
“And to ensure that the illegal motor parks around the flyover do not deface the aesthetics that have been achieved, government is acquiring land near the flyover bridge to build a befitting motor park for them”, he added.
Release My Husband’s Corpse For Burial, Widow Begs Police …As Panel Strikes Out Nine Petitions
A widow of late Mr Kitoye Itari, an indigene of Abua/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mrs Comfort Ameiofori, has appealed to members of the state Commission of Inquiry Investigating the alleged Acts of Killing, Violence, Torture and Abuse of Fundamental Rights of Citizens committed by officers, men and operatives of the Nigerian Police in the state to prevail on the police high command in the state to release the corpse of her late husband for burial.
Late Mr Kitoye Itari was said to have allegedly died while in the custody of operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Unit, Borikiri in August, 2019.
She said that after her husband’s death, the corpse was taken to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital mortuary in Port Harcourt.
Amiefori made this appeal when she appeared at the resumed sitting of the commission at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt, yesterday, adding that efforts by the deceased family to secure the release of the corpse have been unsuccessful.
She took time to narrate how her husband was allegedly tricked by the Abua/Odual Divisional Police Officer (DPO), one Mr Joseph, who handed over her late husband to detectives of the IGP Intelligence Unit, Borokiri, where her husband allegedly died in their custody, adding that one Supol Dauda Abraham was the team leader of the policemen that effected her late husband’s arrest in Abua on that fateful Saturday evening.
According to her, it was the Abua Divisional Police Officer (DPO) that called her late husband, who was his friend to come and see him, adding that her husband, without suspecting anything, graciously went to honour the invitation but could not return to the house.
“When I waited for my husband to return on May 8, 2019, which was on Saturday, I went to the DPO’s office at about 6pm to ask about my husband, but he told me not to worry that my husband will return in two days.
“He later asked me to go and visit my husband at Borokiri in Port Harcourt where the people that arrested my husband were.
“I went there severally, even travelled to Force Headquarters in Abuja, looking for my husband but to no avail.
“Later, I got a call from somebody that my husband’s corpse has been deposited at UPTH mortuary. When I approached Supol Dauda Abraham, he asked me to bring N300,000 before we can bury my husband. Please, help me tell Supol Dauda to release my husband’s corpse for burial,” she pleaded.
In his ruling, the presiding Chairman of the panel, Justice Chukwunoye Uriri (rtd), adjourned the matter to December 9, 2020, for cross-examination by the police counsel.
Meanwhile, the panel has struck out additional three petitions for lack of jurisdiction, bringing to nine the number of petitions so far dismissed by the commission since it began sitting.
The commission had, last week, struck out three petitions and another three last Monday.
The Chairman of the panel, Justice Chukwunoye Uriri while striking out the petitions, said there were subjudice and amounted to contempt of court, adding that the commission would be going out of its scope, if it delves into such matter.
Insecurity: Use Foreign Help To Fight B’Haram, Govs, Elders Urge FG
The Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, has declared support for Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum’s request for President Muhammadu Buhari to engage mercenaries to fight Boko Haram.
Ishaku said they should be involved to assist the Nigerian military in its ongoing fight against terrorists.
Darius spoke, yesterday, in Maiduguri when he, alongside Governors of Adamawa – Ahmadu Fintiri; Bauchi – Bala Mohammed; and Gombe – Inuwa Yahaya; paid Zulum a sympathy visit in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
It would be recalled that last Saturday, Boko Haram insurgents had slaughtered more than 43 farmers from the Zabarmari community.
The massacre has been regarded as one of the most gruesome killings by the Boko Haram sect.
Ishaku said they were saddened and traumatized by the heinous crime.
“I will key into your (Zulum) request, which you said that the Federal Government should invite some mercenaries to come and help us out of this problem, because what you can’t do, what you can’t solve. I think we should invite who can solve it for us.
“We cannot continuously be mourning, there has to be a time to stop the mourning. All of us in the North-East Governors’ Forum, we are pleading with the Federal Government to find a solution to the issue of Boko Haram because, if we neglect it, it will become even worse,” he said.
The Taraba helmsman also appealed to the Federal Government to fix the infrastructural deficit in the North-East.
“We call on the Federal Government to look at the North-East with sympathy. It is embarrassing that in the 2021 budget, what is given to the North-East is 0.35 per cent. With all these problems, the insurgency, the insecurity, only 0.35 per cent was allocated for the region. This is very unfair.
“The Federal Government should look at the issue of infrastructure in the North-East. I, once again, call on the Federal Government to remember the Mambilla hydropower project. Without power, we will not, indeed, have any meaningful development”, Ishaku added.
In his remarks, the Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum expressed appreciation to the delegation for the visit.
Also miffed by the current state of insecurity in the country, some elders in the country under the aegis of Coalition of Nigeria Elders for Peace and Good Governance (CONEPAGG) have urged the Federal Government to seek foreign help to tackle the worsening situation.
The elders, whose call was necessitated by the latest killings of innocent farmers in Borno and Sokoto states by both insurgents and bandits, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to save Nigeria of further loss of lives of its citizens by not only immediately removing the service chiefs but also completely rejigging the entire security architecture.
They equally appealed to the United Nations Security Council to intervene in Nigeria’s growing deteriorating security situation, asking the international security body to consider stiff sanctions against any member state that refuses to sell arms to the country.
They stated their positions in a statement, yesterday, and signed by the National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni; Coordinator for South-West, Prof. Adebola Adeboye; Coordinator for South-East, Dr. Ugwuanyi Emeka; Coordinator in North-West, Sheik Ibrahim Mohammed; Coordinator in North-Central, Barrister Peter Shima; Coordinator, North-East, Hajiya Zainab Bulama; and Coordinator of South-South region, Dr. Solomon Dagogo; respectively.
The elders said their action followed an emergency meeting convened to air their feelings and present their demands to the Nigerian authorities as well as appeal to the necessary international bodies for possible intervention in the country’s worsening security situation.
“As concerned Nigerians with love for our dear country, we had to urgently summon this emergency meeting to appraise the current security situation and proffer possible solutions.
“Today, December 1, 2020, we are here in Abuja to appraise the security situation in the country, particularly in the North, and make some necessary and urgent demands on the President, Muhammadu Buhari; the National Assembly and the United Nations Security Council,” the statement read.
They condemned the gruesome killing of farmers in Borno State by insurgents, describing the action as inhuman and barbaric.
“We condemn, in the strongest possible terms ever, the barbaric, senseless, and gruesome killing of over 43 Nigerian farmers in Borno State”, they said, adding: “Our hearts are with the families and people of Borno State.”
The elders also took a swipe at the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, over a statement credited to him to the effect that the farmers died of carelessness, demanding that he be sacked immediately.
“We also describe as unfortunate, the senseless, irresponsible and insensitive statement credited to Mallam Garba Shehu, the spokesman of the president, who made a statement suggesting that the innocent farmers died out of their carelessness.
“Nothing can be more callous and insensitive as this statement at a time the whole country is mourning. We demand his immediate sack by Mr. President to serve as a deterrent to people who always put his government in a bad light,” the statement read.
According to them, “The insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in the North, has taken an alarming and dangerous dimension, and we strongly believe that now is the time to act swiftly or we will have ourselves to blame.
“Food security is already threatened, inflation and recession are already terribly with us. If nothing is done within these few days, Nigeria may collapse totally,” they added.
They said: “Our demand as Nigerians with repute and equal stake like other well-meaning Nigerians in the country from the executive are: Immediate sack of the current service chiefs and replace them with younger generals with federal character colouration that have the zeal and commitment to change the game on insecurity immediately.”
The other demands, according to the elders, are “total overhaul of the entire intelligence and security architecture of the country for effective results; increase in the budgetary provision and early release of funds by the Federal Ministry of Finance to security sector because we discovered that lack of timely release of funds to all the security agencies has hampered operation and quick response.
“Our police stations don’t even have fuel in their vehicles to respond to threats, allowances of troops in the North-West and North-East and Niger Delta have not been paid for months,” they claimed, asking: “How can we be that insensitive to the people on the frontline? How can our security be active with an empty stomach and low motivation?”
They called on the National Assembly to stop the consideration of the 2021 Budget until President Buhari sacks the service chiefs, saying the president’s retention of the security chiefs in spite of the resolutions of both chambers of the National Assembly, asking for change was an affront on the supremacy of the Legislature.
“Our demand for the Legislative Arm is one: Stop every deliberation on the 2021 Budget until Mr. President sacks the service chiefs and restructures the entire security architecture in accordance with the resolutions of the two chambers of the National Assembly to that effect. The action of the president in ignoring the resolutions is no doubt, an affront on the Legislature,” they said.
The second demand on the National Assembly from the elders, according to the statement, is for the Legislature to immediately commence debate on true federalism.
The elders called on the United Nations Security Council to, “as a matter of urgency, come to our aid in the fight against insurgency and banditry because the most powerful nation in Africa is about to be consumed with insecurity and hunger.
“We demand that they sanction any member state that refuses to sell arms and military hardware to Nigeria going forward,” they said.
In the statement, the elders appealed to the youths to believe in Nigeria and continue to pursue their demands for a better Nigeria peacefully and legally without taking laws into their hands.
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