By Egufe Yafugborhi
PORT HARCOURT – GOVERNOR Nyesom Wike on Friday disclosed that the Rivers State Government has commenced documentation to sue Federal Government for “unilateral” withdrawal of N11Billion from the Federation Accounts for the Nigerian Police.
Wike, during update briefing on the state of Rivers battle with Covid-19 and sundry national issues also declared compulsory use of face mask in public places while lamenting that Rivers confirmed cases on the pandemic would not have been as much if security operatives were not aiding breach of the state’s closed borders.
He maintained that Rivers would sustain her restrictions at containing the virus and that his administration’s compliance with President Mohammadu Buhari’s decision on gradual reopening of the nation to business would be guided by peculiarities in the state.
On the N11Billion withdrawal from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), Wike, said, “Our lawyers will prepare our papers and we will go to court. Nobody says you cannot support the police, but you must get the consent of states before taking their money.
“I have told Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum that Rivers State will challenge this matter in court. It’s not about fighting FG. My state is part owner of that money, so you must make people know. Whatever is the outcome of the case, let it be on record. It’s the sacrifice you make for standing for the truth and the people”
On the state of Covid-19 in Rivers, he said, He said: “The logical conclusion is that pattern of transmission is evidentially predicated on outside importation just as the rate of infection and progression is also relatively low and arithmetical from the date of the index case.
“We expect our COVID-19 infection and prevalent rate to continue along this low trajectory, which gives us the assurance that our hard work is paying off and Rivers certainly not in any dangerous position compared to most other states.
“This is not to say everything about containment and transmission of COVID-19 is under control in Rivers. No, because of challenges occasioned primarily by negative elements who continue to undermine and sabotage our efforts to protect our people from this disease”
Harping on how breach of Rivers borders closure was sabotaging the state’s efforts at containing the pandemic, the Governor cited the multiple infections from contacts of two cases who got infected from outside the state but breached the closed borders to come to infected others.
He said, “Of the five persons that tested positive as at yesterday (Thursday), were two children of the second death case who threatened to sue Rivers Government for confirming their mother to have died of Coronavirus. Today, two of the children have tested positive and even the Pastor who was praying for the woman, the second death case, also tested positive.
“The 7th case was an offshore oil worker who passed a night in a Lagos hotel before returning to Port Harcourt 9 April. When his symptoms started, he was admitted to a private hospital 20 April, discharged, 27 April before testing positive to the virus after almost two weeks of close contact with our people.
“Had the security agency not compromised their responsibilities at the border, this man would have been prevented from coming into Port Harcourt and threatening lives of other people with this virus. 29 April, our surveillance team picked up two men who came from Benin Republic with the help of security men manning the borders despite the closure of all routes to the state.
“So long our security personnel continue to allow people with this virus into the state through the closed borders without checks at assuring that they are quarantined, our people will remain in danger to the effect of Covid-19.”
On the state’s efforts, he said, “The wearing of face mask in all public places is now compulsory throughout the state. State’s Security Council will meet in the next 24 hours to consider and approve necessary mitigating measures for commuters, including the deployment of Government buses to shuttle designated public routes free of charge.
“We have received received one GeneXpert RT-PCR testing machine from TOTAL E & P to be deployed for testing in the state. Pamo Hospital has also donated another PCR machine to Rivers, improving the state’s capacity to test for coronavirus.”
He commended all active stakeholders for efforts towards containing the pandemic and disclosed that, “we have secured 188 convictions on prosecution of borders closure violators and 45 illegal markets operators arrested in parts of the state.”
He said, “While we agree with Mr. President’s decision to gradually re-open the country for business, we shall be guided by peculiarities of our state on when to relax the measures we have put in place and gradually restore business activities.
“Until then, I wish to restate that we love all residents of Rivers State. Please maintain social distancing, stay at home, wear face mask in public places and stay safe”
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