Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike has alerted residents of the state and the world over looming escalation of the coronavirus pandemic in the state due to what he described as the hypocrisy of the Federal Government and acts of sabotage by security agencies.
Wike in a state-wide broadcast on Friday decried the constant violation of the interstate travel restriction and urged residents of the state to treat the crisis with utmost importance as it is a matter of life and death.
“This being so, it has become imperative to alert the State and, in deed, the entire world, of the fact that a dangerous escalation of COVID-19 pandemic in Rivers State looms large in our horizon due largely to the hypocrisy of the Federal Government and the continuous acts of willful sabotage by security agencies.
“Therefore, while we cannot overstate the gravity of our present predicament, nobody should be surprised should Rivers State witness exponential increases in the infection and spread of COVID-19 cases in the days and weeks ahead as we begin intense testing.
“Nevertheless, our resolve and commitment remain strong and total; and as we continue to urge everyone of us to treat this as a matter of life or death, our message to you remains constant: obey our directives to stay at home and protect yourself, your family and our State from the spread of COVID-19.
“There is certainly no choice on this. Staying at home and staying safe for now is not just mandatory; it is the best available option in the circumstance.
“Our borders continue to experience serial acts of sabotage by security operatives, who allow, and in some cases, personally aid persons with risky COVID-19 status into the State.
“As recently as yesterday, we intercepted a lorry-load of livestock with 22 persons who bribed their ways into Rivers State from as far as Adamawa State despite the Federal Government’s claimed restriction on inter-state travels and our definitive closure of all entry routes into the State.
“Even today, we intercepted, yet, another 8 trucks with 200 persons hidden in loads of grains and being smuggled into the State from the northern parts of the country.
“In deed, the extent of sabotage was such that, even a Deputy Commissioner of Police unilaterally appropriated and exercised powers to illegally issue movement pass to individuals and companies indiscriminately in utter contempt and direct violation of the lockdown orders of the State Government”, Wike said.
“Let me express my appreciation to the overwhelming majority of Rivers people for complying with the “Stay at Home and Stay Safe” orders, including the temporary closure of business outfits and activities throughout the State.
“In particular, I wish to commend the Rumuigbo community vigilante for rising to the challenge, as any responsibly community should do, by intercepting a lorry-load of livestock with 50 persons who illegally entered the state in violation of the lockdown orders.
“For this show of courage and patriotism, the State Government will reward the Rumuigbo community with the sum of N5 million only.
“However, quite unfortunately, there are some residents who have chosen to put themselves and the larger public at the risk of infection with their irresponsible show of disobedience to our restrictions on human and vehicular movements during the lockdown.
“As a government, a strong one for that matter, we have the responsibility to act decisively on the side of the law to safeguard the safety of our state and its residents.
“And so, as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to graduate and make its way through the State, these actions, inactions and counter-actions from the the security agencies are rather amplifying the risk of a public health disaster in our State.
“From all indications, no matter what we do or try to do to fight this battle, it is becoming clear by each day that those forces bent on forcing COVID-19 pandemic on our State are not willing to cease their evil plot and intentions”, the Governor said.