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Executive Order Violation: Rivers Court Remands Two Pilots In Prison …Police Begin Contact Tracing Of Suspects …As Wike Threatens To Expose Purveyors Of COVID-19 In Rivers

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A Port Harcourt Chief Magistrate Court, yesterday, remanded two pilots of Carveton Helicopters, Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari in prison custody, for allegedly intentionally disobeying the Executive Order issued by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, aimed at checking the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
The court, presided over by Chief Magistrate D. D. Ihua-Maduenyi, remanded the two pilots at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre till May 19, 2020, when their trial would commence.
Ihua-Maduenyi ruled that COVID-19 tests be carried out on the two pilots to ascertain their status.
The pilots, who were arrested by the Rivers State Police Command, were arraigned by the state Police Command via charge number: PMC/532C/2020.
The Prosecution Counsel and Officer-in-charge, Legal of the Rivers State Police Command, SP Gladys Amadi told the court that the acts of the two pilots were capable of putting the entire state in danger of contracting Coronavirus.
She urged the court to remand the accused in prison custody to enable the police conclude their investigation, noting that allowing the accused persons roam the streets would endanger others in the state.
According to her, remanding the pilots would also stop them from further violating the Executive Order.
The Honourable Attorney General of Rivers State, Prof Zacheus Adango was also in court.
The pilots are facing a four-count charge, including, “That you, Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at-large, as pilot and co-pilot of Twin-Otter, Carveton Helicopters, on the 7th day of April, 2020 at the Air Force Base, Port Harcourt in the Port Harcourt Magisterial District, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit misdemeanour to wit: disobedience to lawful order and thereby committed an offence under Section 517A of the Criminal Code CAP 37, Vol 11 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.
“That you, Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at-large, on the same date and place at the aforesaid Magisterial District, did intentionally disobey the lawful order issued by the governor of Rivers State as contained in Paragraph 8 of the Executive Order RVSG -01 2020 made pursuant to Sections 2, 4, and 8 of Quarantine Act Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Regulation 11 of the Quarantine (Coronavirus (COVID-19 ) and other Infectious Diseases) Regulations, 2020 by flying the Twin-Otter Caverton Helicopters into Air Force Base, Port Harcourt and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 5 of the Quarantine Act Cap Q2 LFN, 2004.
“That you, Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at-large, on the same date and place at the aforesaid Magisterial District, did conduct yourselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace by flying and discharging passengers from the Twin-Otter helicopter at the Air Force Base, Port Harcourt and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 249 (d) of the Criminal Code Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.
“That you, Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at-large, on the same date and place at the aforesaid Magisterial District, did intentionally disobey the lawful order issued by the governor of Rivers State on restriction of movement and flights within the state contrary to Paragraph 8 of the Executive Order RVSG -01 2020 and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 203 of the Criminal Code Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.”
However, for violating the order banning entry of flights into the state, two pilots were yesterday, arrested in Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Police Command.
The pilots were arrested at the Air Force Base in Port Harcourt.
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who briefed newsmen in the office of the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Mustapha Dandaura, expressed worry that the passengers who flew in with the flight had been discharged without the authorities knowing their Coronavirus status.
“These gentlemen came in and brought some passengers. As I speak to you, these passengers are in the state. This is going to cause us sleepless nights.
“I want to say it is a serious matter to us and the police must handle it seriously.
“Now, we are in a war situation. We want to know these people you brought in so that we can trace them”, Wike said.
The State Chief Executive disclosed that the index case in the state has tested negative and has been discharged but added that unfortunately, another Coronavirus positive case was recorded last Monday.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Danduara had said that the arrest of the two pilots followed an intelligence report that the flight had landed at the Air Force Base with passengers.
The pilot and the co-pilot, he said, were apprehended by the Air Force Commander, adding that it was not known where the passengers were flown in from.
“To our greatest surprise, the aircraft landed without permission. We didn’t know their mission or if they have come to sabotage the state.
“His Excellency, being somebody very security conscious, alerted me, and we went to the Air Force Base and saw these pilots”, the police boss stated.
He expressed regret that when the governor of the state and service commanders have been going round the markets, churches and other public places in the state to ensure that the directives against Coronavirus spread were strictly obeyed, such development occurred.
He assured the governor that a search for the passengers in the said flight would commence immediately so as to trace their whereabouts in the state.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, threatened to set aside his immunity to testify against persons who violate the state’s border closure regulations aimed at preventing the spread of Coronavirus.
Speaking at the office of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura in Port Harcourt, yesterday, following the arrest of two pilots of Carveton Helicopters who illegally transported expatriates to the state, Wike said that the protection of Rivers people was an important assignment that must be executed with the seriousness it deserves.
The governor said: “I am willing to drop my immunity as a governor as far as this case is concerned. I am ready to be a prosecution witness.”
He charged the police to prosecute the matter to its logical conclusion to serve as deterrent to those interested in violating the regulations of the state regarding the fight against Coronavirus.
Wike said: “I want to say this is a serious matter to us and police should handle it seriously. That’s why I am here at the state command to show the seriousness of this issue.
“Nobody says that you can’t go to any state but now, we are in a war situation. This COVID-19 is even worse than a conventional war. We want to know those people you brought in so that we have to trace them to know their identity and status. Luckily, we have seen the pilot and the co-pilot. They will assist the police in identifying them”.
Wike reiterated that though the state government has no power to close airports, but added that it has the right to check those coming into the state in order to ascertain their status.
“I have always said that we need the support of everybody. Nobody knows the status of those coming into Port Harcourt. Nobody knows whether they are positive or negative. I have said before that I don’t have the right to close the airport. But I have the right of saying ‘don’t enter my state because we want to know your status’,” he said.
He wondered why Carveton Helicopters decided to cut corners when the state government outlined the procedure for flying expatriates from Lagos into the state.
The governor said: “The company wrote to us about bringing people which I forwarded to the commissioner of police to perform security checks and the health officials to perform their duties before allowing them to come in. That is for those performing essential duties. But they decided to violate the regulations.”
Wike said that his administration was duty-bound to protect Rivers people from Coronavirus.
He confirmed the second case of Coronavirus in the state, explaining that the person was 62-years old who recently returned from the United Kingdom and entered the state through Lagos.
Wike also confirmed that the index case in the state has been discharged from the treatment/isolation centre in Eleme.
He said: “The positive index case of the virus we had, by the grace of God, has been discharged. What we have now is another case of a 62-year old person who came in from UK and landed in Lagos, and then, moved to Port Harcourt.”
Also speaking, the Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mustapha Dandaura confirmed that the command arrested the pilot and co-pilot of Carveton Helicopters who ferried unknown passengers to the state, adding that the pilots violated the regulations regarding the safety of the state.
He said: “Recall that when this Coronavirus issues started, there was ban of local flight from coming into the state. Since that time we have been monitoring the activities of these private airlines.
“To our surprise, we received an intelligence report that an aircraft has landed at the Air Force Base and that it was carrying some passengers. We have apprehended the pilot and the co-pilot by the NAF commander, that’s why they alerted the chief executive officer of the state who had given an order that on no account should any aircraft land in Rivers State without clearance.
“We don’t know the people they brought, whether they are positive or negative of Coronavirus. Where are they heading to and where they came from?
He commended Governor Nyesom Wike for his commitment to the protection of Rivers people.
“To our surprise this morning, this aircraft landed without any signal or permission from the authorities. We don’t know their mission here. Maybe, they are coming here to sabotage the activities of the state and the security agencies that are putting efforts on ground to ensure that Rivers State enjoys peaceful atmosphere throughout this pandemic period”, Dandaura added.
It would be recalled that the Executive Order signed by the Rivers State Governor on March 19, 2020 suspended flights to the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Air Force Base and Bonny Airstrip beginning Thursday, March 26, 2020.
The Executive Order signed by Governor Wike is titled: “EXECUTIVE ORDER RVSG – 01 2020 PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 2, 4 AND 8 OF QUARANTINE ACT, CAP. Q2 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA 2004 AND REGULATION 11 OF THE QUARANTINE (CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) AND OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES) REGULATIONS, 2020.”

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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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RIWAMA Sole Administrator Congratulates Hon (Mrs) Justice Suzzette Eberechi Nyesom-Wike On Her Birthday

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As the wife of Rivers State Governor, Hon. (Mrs) Justice Suzzette Eberechi Nyesom-Wike celebrates her birthday anniversary on Sunday, the Sole Administrator, Rivers State Waste Management Agency, RIWAMA, Bro. Felix Obuah has felicitated with the First Lady, describing her as a rare gift to the State, Nigeria and the world at large.
Bro. Obuah in a congratulatory message also described Hon. (Mrs) Justice Suzzette Nyesom-Wike as a simple, loving, caring and trustworthy mother who has remained a pillar of strength to her husband in the task of administering the State.
He lauded the Governor’s wife for her steadfastness and being a role model for women, noting that her wonderful virtues are worthy of emulation.
While stressing that behind a successful man, there is a good wife, the RIWAMA Sole Administrator added that the blessed companionship of the First Lady and her husband has contributed in no small measure in navigating the ship of Rivers State into a glorious era.
His words: “As you mark your birthday today, I bring you best wishes and good tidings from my beloved wife and family, as well as workers of the Rivers Waste Management Agency, RIWAMA, who are appreciative of all that you are doing to advance the cause and dignity of Rivers people”.
Bro. Obuah prayed that the birthday would bring to the Governor’s wife, an extra share of everything that would make her the happiest in life.
The RIWAMA Sole Administrator further prayed God to grant the Rivers First Lady long and prosperous life for the overall benefit of the State and to the glory of God.
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