Covid-19: Nigeria knocks out fresh lockdown fears, eyes 2m testing next month

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Buhari receives Malagasy herbal drug delivered by Guinea Bisau’s president, says he will listen to science

•Sierra Leone appoints Nigerian head of COVID-19 taskforce

•Pregnant Lagos patient delivers baby boy at Gbagada isolation centre

•30 staff of same company test positive in Oyo

•NCDC records 176 new cases, raises tally to 5,621, discharges 1,472, deaths 176

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

The federal government has said with its new testing capacity for COVID-19, it is targeting, at least, some two million tests by the end of June. Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this in an exclusive chat with THISDAY.

Mustapha said contrary to insinuations doing the rounds about another lockdown, the federal government was only contemplating “isolated lockdowns” in troubled parts of the country.

This was as President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday in Abuja, received the Malagasy native formulation against the COVID-19 pandemic, a supply delivered by the President of Guinea Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, at the State House.

The President however stated that he would follow the advice of the scientific community.

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Meanwhile, NCDC announced 176 new positive cases late yesterday night, raising the tall to a total of 5,621 confirmed positive cases in the country. Those discharged stood at 1,472 while number of deaths rose to 176. Lagos recorded the highest number of new cases with 95, followed by Oyo state with 31, FCT 11, Niger State 8 etc.

In a related development, the Sierra Leonean government appointed a Nigerian medical practitioner in the country, Dr. Laoluwa Adejayan, as head of that country’s COVID-19 taskforce.

In Lagos State, health workers, at the weekend, delivered one of the COVID-19 patients of a baby boy through caesarean section at the Gbagada Isolation Centre. And the state discharged 67 more patients from four of its isolation centres after they tested negative at two consecutive times for the coronavirus.

Bayelsa State also discharged two recovered patients, leaving the state with one active case.

Speaking on measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Mustapha flatly dismissed the possibility of another nationwide lockdown. He said the idea was no longer expedient in view of some of the latest developments. But he said some cluster areas in certain parts of the country would be closely monitored for possible intervention as might be deemed necessary and advised by experts.

The SGF said with the aid of development partners, the country’s testing capacity had gone up significantly, with Nigeria projecting to test at least two million people by the end of next month.

Mustapha had on Tuesday inaugurated a 250-bed COVID-19 Treatment Centre, donated by THISDAY Media and Technology Group, being the company’s contribution to the fight against the spread of the pandemic.

The treatment centre, which is situated at the THISDAY Dome, Abuja, is co-powered by Sahara Group and supported by Coalition Against COVID-19 (CA-COVID), AFC and CCECC. Other donors include Egbin Plc, the Wood Factory, the regent Schools, Ebewele Brown Bespoke and Syari Clothier, Mama Cass, Traffic CLO, Urban Cuisine, Phase 3 Telecoms and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), with the express backing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Ministry of Health, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Designed to do 200 tests a day, which could be scaled up to 400 and subsequently 1000, as required, the treatment centre has been further enhanced with a 54 gene molecular mobile laboratory, in addition to some 10,000 reagents and requisite kits.

It was in view of this initiative and similar supports from far and near that Mustapha expressed the confidence that the country would hit a two million testing mark by the end of June, by which time experts also informed THISDAY that the country would have begun to flatten the curve.

The SGF said the ramped up testing would help to guide the medical experts on the way forward, since the figures would enhance planning as well as response to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Further addressing the swirling speculations that another lockdown might be imminent given the general state of response to the pandemic, Mustapha said such a decision was not on the cards yet, especially given that enforcement had not been as impressive as envisaged in the overall plan against the spread of the virus.

He was, however, sure there might be isolated lockdowns in some parts of the country, which might not affect the entire states in question but the affected portions of the states for ease of administration, enforcement and monitoring. This, he said, would be worked out with the states in question with a view to ensuring that the rest of the country was not put at risk, citing the federal government’s intervention in Kano State as an example of how the isolated lockdown as well as the involvement of the federal government might look.

He noted that the federal government was closely monitoring the situation reports across the country to be able to ascertain when and where to come in, mentioning specifically the climbing numbers in Lagos, which he said was being religiously monitored.

Receiving the Madagascan native formulation from President Embalo, who had brought along with him samples of the traditional medicine as distributed to other African nations by Madagascar, Buhari said it would not be administered until scientifically proven. He said he would not allow administration of any new medicines on Nigerians until it had gone through necessary trial.

According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, Buhari insisted that his position on all herbal or traditional medicines remained the same, pointing out that only the medicines’ approval by Nigeria’s relevant institutions would determine its use in the country.

“We have our institutions, systems and processes in the country. Any such formulations should be sent to them for verification. I will not put it to use without the endorsement of our institutions,” he said.

The statement quoted the Guinea Bissau’s President as saying he had also visited Buhari to seek his fatherly counsel on his plan to constitute a “government of national unity” as well as his administration’s proposed war against corruption.

Embalo, the statement noted, told Buhari that having stabilised his country after the tussles, which accompanied the general election that produced him, obtaining Buhari’s counsel on the above moves had become important.

Embalo was also said to have told Buhari that his new government met a number of challenges, which he said would require the tremendous assistance of “big brother” Nigeria to address.

“Problems of Guinea Bissau are problems of Nigeria. I have come to you as your son. I need your help and assistance to make the people happy. I will not let you down, neither will I put you in any difficult situation,” he was quoted as saying

Buhari, while responding to Embalo’s submissions, commended him on his ascension as his country’s president and his efforts to stabilise the country.

He told the visiting president, “I commend your political dexterity in getting the opposition to join the proposed unity government.” He reiterated Nigeria’s determination to keep West Africa politically stable and promised to support the new government in Guinea Bissau.

“I will cooperate and help in every way possible,” Buhari assured his guest.

The Nigerian president also used the opportunity of Embalo’s visit to commend “the good work” of the President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou, as the current Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in the sub-region, particularly for keeping him informed about events in the region.

Sierra Leone Appoints Nigerian to Task force

In Sierra Leone, the sterling qualities of Nigerian graduates and professionals serving under the Technical Aids Corps programme paid off with the appointment of Adejayan, as the head of the COVID-19 taskforce in the country. Announcing Adejayan’s appointment, the Sierra Leonean authorities hinged their decision on the fact that he had been adjudged as the best foreign medical practitioner in the country in recent years.

Following the appointment, the Serial Leonean government increased his salary to $20,000 per month, a 100 per cent increase.

Adejayan, a graduate of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, had served in Bayelsa State after his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), before transferring his services to the West African country under the Technical Aids Corps scheme, in 2012.

The scheme is currently headed by a seasoned administrator from Ile-Oluji, Ondo State, Dr. Pius Osunyikanmi

In a letter addressed to Buhari intimating him of the development, Sierra Leonean President, Julius Maada Bio, described Adeyanjua as a good ambassador of Nigeria in the country. Bio stated that Adeyanju had over the years proved to be a well-trained, brilliant and hard working doctor.

Buhari, who was elated by the appointment, congratulated Adejayan for being a good ambassador of Nigeria.

Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari said the Federal Government of Nigeria was proud of Adejayan’s hard work in a foreign land.

In Lagos, the news of the health workers in the state, who successful delivered one of their COVID-19 patients of a baby boy, was complemented by the discharge of another 67 patients from four of the isolation centres in the state. Announcing the feat, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said it was another validation of the government’s determination to stamp out the virus from the state.

Pregnant Lagos Patient Delivers Baby boy in Gbagada Isolation Centre

Sanwo-Olu said, “I bring you great news from our isolation facilities. Today, a pregnant COVID-19 positive patient was delivered of a baby boy through the caesarean section at the Gbagada Isolation Centre. Both mother and baby are doing well.

“Today’s achievement is a pointer that our strategies in Lagos State are working and yielding the desired results. It is also a sign of victory and motivation for us as we push ahead in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.”

Sanwo-Olu also announced the discharge of 67 more patients from four isolation centres, stating, “Also, 67 fully recovered COVID-19 Lagos patients; 22 females and 45 males, including three foreign nationals – two Indians and a Chinese – were discharged to join the society.

“The patients; 24 from the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, 22 from Onikan, 11 from Agidingbi, two from Lekki, and eight from Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Isolation Centres were discharged, having tested negative to COVID-19 in two consecutive readings.”

The governor said with the latest development, the number of patients successfully managed and discharged from Isolation facilities in Lagos stood at 608.

Sanwo-Olu enjoined Lagosians to support the government in its drive to rid the state of COVID-19 by complying with all its directives on the various safety protocols.

He stated, “As our frontline health workers record successes in the battle against #COVID19, we urge citizens to adhere strictly to our public advisories and directives as this is the only way we can break the chain of transmission of the infection and hoist the flag of victory at the end of it all.

“And as we look forward to more great news in the coming days, I urge you all to take responsibility and play your part for a #COVID19FreeLagos #ForAGreaterLagos.”

Bayelsa Discharges Two

In Bayelsa State, the two discharged patients, who were at the isolation centre at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) at Okolobiri, were linked to the index case that was discharged about a week earlier.

A statement by the deputy chairman of the state’s COVID-19 taskforce and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Inodu Apoku, said the repeat tests of the remaining cases linked to the index case returned negative.

Apoku said, “These patients have also met all other NCDC guidelines for discharge. Consequently, they have been discharged today (Saturday).

“So there is only one active COVID-19 case in the state after discharging the index case and the other four linked cases.”

PDP Moves to Establish Testing Centre in Anambra

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, led by a former governor and running mate to Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 presidential election, Mr Peter Obi, is raising contributions from its members to build a COVID-19 Testing Centre in the state as part of its support to the fight against the pandemic. The party had also, through donations from members, provided and commenced distribution of cash and food items to its members in all the wards in the state.

Chairman of the Anambra PDP COVID-19 Welfare/Distribution Committee, Mrs. Chidi Onyemelukwe, revealed this to journalists in Awka on Saturday at the PDP Secretariat. This was shortly before the commencement of the distribution of the materials, which consisted of cash and food items.

Onyemelukwe said, “We are committing N125 million for the distribution of food items and cash to our members in all the political wards in the state, and there are modalities. It is a process that is counting and not a one-off thing, so more money will be committed into this as our members make donations. Every ward, every community, every local government in Anambra State will benefit from this.

“We are also donating a testing centre to Anambra State Government, and we have written to them to make available a site, where this can be situated. Besides, three tertiary health care facilities in the state will also be receiving N12 million worth of equipment from the party to update their facilities and help in the fight against COVID-19.”

THISDAY gathered that while Obi was the chief donor in the party’s scheme with a donation of N40 million, senators, House of Representatives members of the party also donated N10 million and N5 million each.

Other members of the party, including aspirants for the 2021 governorship election in the state, also made varying donations.

A joint address by the chairman and secretary of the committee and the chairman of the party in the state, Mr Ndubuisi Nwobu, showed that each of the 179 communities in the state will get N300,000, from where at least 60 indigent persons will get N5,000 each to support their businesses or families, besides donations of various food item.

The address read, “We appreciate the Anambra State PDP leadership, legislators and stakeholders, and other well-meaning Ndi Anambra in different communities, who, in spite of the difficult times, made noticeable and laudable sacrifices to help reduce the hardship experienced by our people in different towns and villages across the state.

“One hundred and five thousand naira (N105,000) will be used to provide food, cash and other items, as palliatives, directly to each ward in our communities.”

Other donors listed by the party included Senator Stella Oduah, Senator Uche Ekwunife, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, Hon. Chris Azubogu, Hon Obinna Chidoka, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, Hon Vincent Ofumelu, Hon Samuel Onwuaso, and Chief Linus Ukachukwu.

Others are Dr. Godwin Maduka, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, Chief Obiorah Okonkwo, Chief Ugo Nsofor, Hon Ebele Ejiofor, Hon Onyebuchi Offor – and many others.

Obaseki says Stella Obasanjo hospital’ll be among Nigeria’s best

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said the state government was remodelling the Stella Obasanjo Hospital Isolation Centre (SOHIC) to be the best in Nigeria, with state-of-the-art facilities to manage all stages of coronavirus disease. The governor said this while inspecting the expanded 300-bed isolation facility in Benin City.

He said a lot had gone into the refurbishment of the hospital, noting that the transformation of the facility has been rapid with the deployment of human and material resources to ensure that it is brought up to standard to hold more patients, especially, with rising cases of coronavirus in the state.

He said, “The facility will be handed over upon completion. This is one of the best isolation centres in the country with about 300 beds. It is well structured with input from some of the best professionals in terms of infectious disease management in Nigeria. These experts are from Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.”

The governor said the facility was designed to treat cases in the four main categories of infectious disease management, adding, “Category one is the most critical and serious cases, which requires the use of ventilators and respirators. We have 40 beds for them. Category two, three and four are none critical cases. They are also accommodated here.”

Obaseki noted that there was an area for holding people suspected to have contracted the disease but were yet to confirm their status. He said those in this category would be screened and tested and if the test returned positive, they would be admitted into the hospital and separated.

Pan-Okun Group Begins N500 million Fund Raising

A group, Pan-Okun People Relief Response Agenda, began a massive fund raising programme aimed at ensuring effective health care delivery across Okunland. The initiative is also ensure the procurement and distribution of consumable and non-consumable items to the people to help them in these challenging times.

The fundraising programme, organised through funds sourcing and donations under the chairmanships of Professor Olu Obafemi (Elders Advisory Council), and Prince Sola Akanmode (Steering Committee), was give a deadline of two weeks.

The Pan-Okun Project was established to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic among the people of Okunland in Kogi West Senatorial District.

A statement from the general secretary of the project, Dr. Ronke Bello, an international consultant, identified the categories of prospective donors as Okun sons and daughters (home and diaspora), friends of Okun, as well as corporate organisations, especially, those whose operations are located or goods consumed in Okunland.

The project targets N500 million with its account domiciled at the United Bank for Africa.

The statement said funds generated at the end of the exercise would be targeted towards rehabilitating the decrepit health facilities across Okunland, equipping them, and providing succour for the people through donations of food items and other relief materials.

30 Staff of Same Company Test Positive in Oyo

30 staff of the same company in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, have tested positive to Coronavirus Disease.

This was revealed by the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, on Saturday. Makinde, in a tweet on his verified Twitter handle, said the company has been shut down, while contact tracing had begun.

He tweeted: “The COVID-19 confirmation tests for thirty-one suspected cases came back positive.

“30 of these cases are members of staff of the same organisation based in Ibadan South West Local Government Area.

“The organisation has been shut down and will be decontaminated.

“We urge members of the public to remain calm as the situation is under control.

“Intensified contact tracing has already commenced.

“We will give an update on any additional measures that may need to be taken.

“The remaining one case is from Egbeda Local Government Area.

“So, the total number of confirmed cases in Oyo State as at 8 PM today, is 107.”

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Founded on January 22, 1995, THISDAY is published by THISDAY NEWSPAPERS LTD., 35 Creek Road Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria with offices in 36 states of Nigeria , the Federal Capital Territory and around the world. It is Nigeria’s most authoritative news media available on all platforms for the political, business, professional and diplomatic elite and broader middle classes while serving as the meeting point of new ideas, culture and technology for the aspirationals and millennials. The newspaper is a public trust dedicated to the pursuit of truth and reason covering a range of issues from breaking news to politics, business, the markets, the arts, sports and community to the crossroads of people and society.

7′
Niger Delta Leaders Flay Lopsided Appointments in NNPC, Subsidiaries
editorMay 17, 2020 5:20 Am
•Tell Buhari to correct anomaly

•Reiterate call for restructuring

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) have condemned what they called lopsided appointments into top management positions at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries and departments in favour of the northern part of the country. Their position was contained in an open letter entitled, “Re: Addressing the Continued Injustice Against the Niger Delta People Vis the Lopsided Appointments in the NNPC and its Subsidiaries/Departments,” addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend.

The leaders called on the president to urgently correct the abnormality. They also reaffirmed the call for proper restructuring of the country.

PANDEF, in the letter signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson, rejected the deliberate and calculated sidelining of Niger Delta indigenes in appointments and redeployments in the NNPC and its subsidiaries. The group said the region’s marginalisation at the national oil corporation became even more pronounced in the March 2020 promotions and reorganisation, which further isolated the Niger Delta from its mainstream management structure.

PANDEF stated, “Today, under Mr. President’s watch, the paradoxical and dismal reality is that in the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), through which the federal government regulates and participates in the country’s petroleum industry that operates in our backyards, virtually all top management positions of the corporation and its subsidiaries, departments, and ventures are held by persons from the northern zones of the country that do not produce an ounce of oil, to the exclusion of indigenes of oil producing communities of Niger Delta region.”

PANDEF listed 20 management positions held by northerners in NNPC to include Group Managing Director (GMD), Mele Kyari; Chief Finance Officer, Finance and Accounts, Umar Ajiya; Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, Yusuf Usman; Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services, Farouk Garba Sa’id; Chief Operating Officer, Refining and Petrochemicals, Mustapha Yakubu; Corporate Secretary/Legal Adviser to the Corporation, Hadiza Coomassie; GGM, International Energy Relations, IER, Omar Ibrahim; GGM, Renewable Energy, Kallamu Abdullahi; GGM, Governance Risk and Compliance, Ibrahim Birma; and GGM, NAPIMS, Bala Wunti.

Others are MD, NNPC Shipping, Inuwa Waya; MD, Pipelines and Product Marketing, PPMC, Musa Lawan; MD, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, Mansur Sambo; MD, Duke Oil/NNPC Trading Company, Lawal Sade; MD, Port Harcourt Refining Company, Malami Shehu; MD, Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, Muhammed Abah; MD, Nigeria Gas Marketing Company, Abdulkadir Ahmed; MD, Nigeria Gas and Power Investment Company Limited, Salihu Jamari; MD, NNPC Medical Services, Mohammed Zango; and Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Sarki Auwalu.

PANDEF stated that the entire southern Nigeria was allotted only three top management positions in the NNPC.

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“The oil producing zones of South-south, South-east, and South-west are left with one Chief Operating Officer position each, and a few senior and middle level management positions in peripheral and incidental subsidiaries, departments and divisions of the corporation,” the Niger Delta group stated.

The open letter stated further, “The NNPC Board subsists as was constituted in 2016 without changes, apart from the Minister of State, Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, and Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari from Borno state, who replaced Maikanti Bari as Group Managing Director in July 2019. And Mr President remains the petroleum minister.

The management pattern in NNPC is replicated in all other oil related agencies, such as Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Petroleum Equalisation Fund, etc.

“Employment into the NNPC and other related agencies is not anything different. While young graduates of the Niger Delta region with degrees in petroleum engineering and allied fields remain jobless, northerners with degrees in history are working as managers in the NNPC.

“Ironically, the South-south zone produces about 95 per cent of Nigeria’s crude oil resources, which account for over 90 per cent of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings. The effects of oil exploration on the hitherto luxurious ecosystem of the Niger Delta, and damage done to the indigenous people’s means of livelihood with little, if any, improvement in their standard of living, are sad verities that make the situation in the NNPC more vexing.”

PANDEF detailed Nigeria’s crude oil production figures by state as follows, to press home its opposition to the NNPC management structure under Buhari:

1. Akwa Ibom 504,000 bpd-31.4%

2. Delta 346,000 bpd – 21.56%

3. Rivers 344,000 bpd- 21.43%

4. Bayelsa 290,000 bpd- 18.07%

5. Edo 33,000 bpd – 2.06%

6. Ondo 60,000 bpd – 3.74%

7. Imo 17,000 bpd – 1.06%

8. Abia 11,000 bpd – 0.68%

Oil production In the northern zones = 0%

According to the Niger Delta leaders, “Chapter 2, Section 14 (3) of the Nation’s Constitution, which Mr. President swore on oath to uphold and defend, provides that the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”

The group maintained that the NNPC management configuration could neither promote national unity nor national loyalty, saying it goes against the spirit and letter of the constitution.

“Regrettably, the uncouth discriminative bias against the Niger Delta region is even being perpetuated in the current efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the country, and in the dispensation of palliatives to vulnerable citizens by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the federal government,” PANDEF stated.

It told Buhari, “Concerning the $311 million US Dollars Abacha loot recently returned from the United States, which your administration said has been allocated to projects; including the second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressways, as well as the Mambilla Power Project in North-east zone; no project in the South-south zone is listed.

“These situations further bolster the Niger Delta peoples’ demand for not only adequate participation in the management, administration, and dispensation of the resources nature has richly endowed our lands but also for the restructuring of the country. And we will not stop; confident that someday the sun will shine on us.

“Mr. President need not be apprised that the people of the Niger Delta region have nothing against any part of the country. But this gross injustice against the people who bear the brunt of the oil exploration and exploitation activities in their land must stop. The region has been a ‘good friend’ to all parts of the country, particularly to northern Nigeria. More so, the region has demonstrated tremendous patriotism and goodwill towards your administration.

“Unfortunately, instead of appropriately reciprocating the gesture of the Niger Delta people by addressing the genuine demands of the region as encapsulated in the 16-Point Demand that was presented by PANDEF to Mr. President on 1st November 2016, what we see is further alienation and distancing by the federal government and its agencies.”

PANDEF said its letter was meant to highlight the “gross disproportions” in management appointments in the key oil corporation, “with the imploration that Mr. President should, in the interest of fairness, equity, PEACE and POSTERITY, correct the anomalies and give all regions and zones of the country due sense of belonging; especially the Niger Delta region. It is imperative that every effort should be employed to ensure that the subsisting peace in the Niger Delta region is sustained, in the context of the COVID-19 impact on the global economy and falling crude oil price.”

The group said the onus was on Buhari to “urgently address these palpable defects of your administration, and bequeath a worthwhile legacy; such that in the years to come, when citizens reminisce on the tenure of your presidency, the contemplations would not be distorted by unnerving shadows of nepotism, bias and injustice.”

PANDEF also flayed the recent nominations by the president into the Federal Character Commission, which had two nominees from the North designated for Chairman and Secretary of the commission.

“These actions undermine national cohesion and unity,” PANDEF stated. It added, “We cannot continue to run Nigeria in such manner.

“Luckily, Mr. President has sufficient time, of about three years, to alter the chronicle and theme it in the direction of equity and social justice.”

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Founded on January 22, 1995, THISDAY is published by THISDAY NEWSPAPERS LTD., 35 Creek Road Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria with offices in 36 states of Nigeria , the Federal Capital Territory and around the world. It is Nigeria’s most authoritative news media available on all platforms for the political, business, professional and diplomatic elite and broader middle classes while serving as the meeting point of new ideas, culture and technology for the aspirationals and millennials. The newspaper is a public trust dedicated to the pursuit of truth and reason covering a range of issues from breaking news to politics, business, the markets, the arts, sports and community to the crossroads of people and society.

Nyesom Wike’s Executive Recklessness
editorMay 16, 2020 1:14 Am
Ring true

Phone number 08054699539

Email: yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com

The level of human rights abuse being perpetrated by Governor Nyesom Wike in Rivers State under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 lockdown is frightening. The good people of Rivers State must rise and stop this modern day Benito Mussolini, who is bent on destroying our democracy and Rule of Law. Wike’s demolition of two hotels in the state over alleged violation of his lockdown order was most despicable. The fascist governor illegally mobilised armed security agents with bulldozers to Edemete and Prodest hotels in Elele and Onne, respectively, and personally supervised the destruction. It was a blatant violation of the laws of this country.

Wike’s defence that the hotels were encouraging the spread of Coronavirus and that one of the owners attacked members of the state’s COVID-19 Task force is balderdash. We must not allow this governor to continue to hide under a crazy Executive Order to perpetrate lawlessness. Let’s get it straight. An Executive Order is simply a managerial tool with procedures. It is not a law and can never be a law. The Nigerian Constitution is superior to Wike’s ludicrous order, which is apparently in conflict with our Constitution.

If this governor believes the promoters of Edemete and Prodest hotels had broken any law, they ought to have been arrested, charged to court and tried in line with the laws of our land. It is only a court of law that can impose any form of punishment.

This is the position of the law. It is the law of this country. So, which court of law gave this lawless governor the approval to demolish these hotels? The Nigerian Constitution does not allow any government, no matter how big, to be the architect of a law, appellant, witness, prosecutor, the Judge and enforcer of the law at the same time. That was exactly what “Governor Rivers” did last Sunday with the demolition of the two hotels. Wike is a lawyer and should be mortified by his action. For me, this man is a disgrace to the legal profession. I have been waiting for him to tell us the section of the Nigerian Constitution that allows him to take the laws into his hands and dish out penalties to people without recourse to the Constitution. Even the President of this country can’t do this. “Governor Rivers” has been going around defending himself with cock and bull stories.

Suddenly, “Governor Rivers” says he has approved the construction of a primary school at the location of the demolished Prodest Hotel in Eleme. On the one hand, a building that could have been converted to a school (if legally confiscated) is demolished. On the other hand, scarce public fund will now be used to build a school. Where is the sense in all these? Wike is also telling us that a member of his Task Force on COVID-19, who was allegedly attacked at Prodest Hotel before it was demolished, died on Tuesday. However, he is unable to disclose the identity of the dead officer. Can you imagine that? I think it’s just a ruse to whip up sentiment after the backlash of the demolition.

Wike’s lockdown rules are evidently extremely draconian and senseless. He mindlessly orders markets and places selling food to totally shut down, thus creating crisis. There are better ways of doing this, without hurting the people he claims to be protecting. Essential workers like doctors, nurses, pharmacists, electricity and oil personnel, are harassed daily in Rivers State. In many cases, they are arrested for breaching the absurd lockdown. On Tuesday, I watched a video of Wike supervising the enforcement of the lockdown and saw him directing security agents to take people violating his order to COVID-19 isolation centre. Haba! How can this man arrest people and send them to isolation centre? So, as a punishment, he wants them infected with Coronavirus? In another scene, Wike ran into a pregnant woman who was heading to the hospital and started harassing her. He eventually allowed her to go with a vow that next time, he would deal with her. So, pregnant women in need of medical attention should not step out of their homes because of Wike’s order? This governor is evidently high on something. Only God knows what it is.

When he took on ExxonMobil staff on April 17, you will probably think Heavens will fall. In a manner better described as warped, Wike arrested and quarantined 22 staff of this firm, with a promise to prosecute them for violating his Executive Order to curtail the spread of the virus. The workers were on their way to an offshore oil platform and dared to pass through Wike’s kingdom. They had approval from necessary authorities to move around but Wike still created unnecessary scene. Common sense eventually prevailed and the governor was forced to eat humble pie by releasing the oil workers he abducted. Before this ExxonMobil issue, Wike had viciously arrested 10 oil workers brought to Port Harcourt by Caverton Helicopter in the guise of sustaining the war against COVID-19. He also arrested and detained the two pilots that flew the helicopter to Port Harcourt. Just imagine Wike thinking that he has the power to close Nigeria’s air space as part of the state’s measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. This is what fascism does to a man.

Senior lawyer, Femi Falana was apt when he described Wike’s demolition of the two hotels as primitive. The human rights activist added: “Wike should not be allowed to get away with the brute force and the violation of the nation’s Constitution. The Constitution supersedes the governor’s order. Any offender, regardless of the crime he committed, should be arrested, charged to court and tried in line with the laws of the land. It is unfortunate that these events are happening in Port Harcourt where the governor of the state is a senior lawyer and not just a lawyer. I’m even informed that he’s a member of the Body of Benchers. That is an embarrassment; a colossal embarrassment to the Nigerian Bar Association.

“Under our law, an emergency situation under the Quarantine Act does not permit the demolition of a house of an alleged offender. Whoever has breached the law will have to be tried and convicted by a court of law before a sentence can be pronounced. We hope the governor will be properly advised to reverse his decisions, publicly apologise and restore the properties of those that have been destroyed. Everyone will have to go through a judicial process. That is what the Rule of Law is all about. The guidelines and regulations in the Executive Order are subject to the Constitution. So, if there is a conflict in the guidelines, the directives of the governor and the Constitution, his directives will bow to the Constitution.”

It is heartwarming that police authorities have withdrawn their men attached to Wike’s notorious COVID-19 Task Force. All other security agencies must do same. All security agents attached to his office must also be firmly warned not to obey his unlawful orders.

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