My Dear Good People of Rivers State,
We were constrained by the continuing increase in the transmission of COVID-19 cases to impose further measures to mitigate the spread of the virus in our State, including a 24 hour total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas since Thursday 7th May 2020.
These measures are neither new nor extra-ordinary. They are the very standard measures that are universally applied across all countries to fight the spread of this pandemic in the absence of any preventive vaccine or therapeutics.
These very measures had been in place for over four weeks in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, until recently.
As we speak, the entire Kano State is on complete lockdown, while inter-state travel ban and a night curfew have also been slammed on the entire country by the Federal Government.
Indeed, the Lagos State Government has threatened to reintroduce the total lockdown if the number of cases continue to rise at frightening levels.
Here in Rivers State, every measure we have imposed was dictated by an assessment of our situation, the trend of transmission and our conviction that it was the right thing to do in the circumstance.
As a Government, we are doing our utmost best, in the face of daunting challenges, to prevent COVID-19 from taking hold in Rivers State; to stop any possible community transmission of this disease before it is too late.
And we shall continue on this trajectory because the alternative would spell a greater disaster for our State and our people.
More so, when these are not arbitrary measures but fully prescribed and backed by the ordinary laws of our State, especially, Executive Orders numbers: 1 to 6.
So far, all our measures and actions are not arbitrary but fully prescribed, guided and backed by the ordinary laws of our State, especially Executive Order numbers 1 to 6, which apply equally to all persons throughout the State.
As a Government, we are obliged to enforce our laws, and in the present circumstance, we have done so without fear or favour.
From the very beginning we unequivocally declared our resolve to spare no efforts or resources in fighting this virus and safeguarding the collective health and safety of our people.
We equally made it loud and clear that in the fight against COVI/D-19 there would be no sacred cows; no double standards, and no sentiments of any kind, whether political, ethnic, religious, status, emotional or otherwise.
In the last few days we have pursued with vigour and secured several convictions against those who intentionally violated our COVID-19 containment laws in the same way others States are doing.
The forfeited trucks to be auctioned by the Deputy Sherriff were not confiscated arbitrarily by the State Government, but by the orders of our Courts.
Similarly, we acted against the hotelier because, apart from using the facility to jeopardize the lives of our citizens in violation of the extant law, the owner audaciously unleashed thugs lead by the Eleme Local Government Youth Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party and inflicted severe injuries on our task-force members who went to enforce the law against the continued operation of the hotel.
As we speak, nobody knows the fate of the lives of most of the victims of that brazen and deadly attack given the severity of the head injuries they sustained.
And so, we’ve done no wrong as all our actions were taken in good faith and justified by, under and within the purview of the Executive Orders, which have neither been challenged nor set aside by any competent court of law.
Therefore, while we welcome genuine criticisms directed towards strengthening our intervention measures; it is no use joining issues with uninformed critics and social media legal practitioners who, blinded and prodded by sheer politics, bias and hatred, have opted to demonize and paint our lawful and responsible actions in bad light.
Granted that we may not have totally achieved our targets, but we are convinced that, so far, the lockdown and the other measures have impacted greatly in containing and preventing the onslaught of the pandemic on Rivers State.
We therefore thank the entire people of Rivers State for the overwhelming understanding you have shown even as you continue to endure the pains of the restrictions on your wellbeing and fundamental freedoms.
Let me assure you that the overall interest of all residents remains paramount and we shall continue to fight this virus with all the seriousness it deserves until it is defeated and the safety of everyone is secured and guaranteed.
However, in doing so, we are not unmindful of the hardship some of these measures are having on our people and on the State’s economy.
Consequently, we have given due consideration to the propositions on the way forward by well-meaning citizens of the State, and after a cautious review of the situation, decided to implement a partial relaxation of the lockdown measures, to enable residents to have some fresh air and replenish their foodstuffs and medicines.
To this end, I hereby announce the temporary lifting of the total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Governments Areas for two days only, with effect from Tuesday 12th May 2020.
All shops, supermarkets, and malls can open to the public for Tuesday and Wednesday, 12 and 13 May 2020.
Similarly, all hospitals and banks can also open and provide full services to the public;
While oil and gas companies are required to submit the list of their staff on essential duties to Government, note that there is no ban on the lifting of petroleum products from depots and other receptacles.
The total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas will be reinstated on Thursday 14th May 2020 and remain until further notice.
In addition, all other established restrictions under the Executive Orders on social distancing are still in force, including the:
- compulsory wearing of face mask or scarfs in vehicles and public places;
- closure of all land, sea and air borders and entry routes into the State; and
- closure of all open markets, including slaughters, hotels, guest houses, cinemas, bars and restaurants; and
- ban on gathering, including public burials, weddings, and religious gathering of more than 50 persons.
Once again, thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
Please note that our enemy is invisible. stay at home, maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly and stay safe.
Thank you and God bless you all.