Covid-19: Wike arrests, quarantines 22 Exxon Mobil staff for violating restriction order

•Says Carveton Helicopters have apologised to Rivers State

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike Friday announced that security agencies in the state had  arrested 22 staff of Exxon Mobil who entered the state from Akwa Ibom in violation of the State Executive Order restricting movements in and out of the state.

Addressing a press conference in Port Harcourt on Friday, he said that despite the huge misunderstanding generated by the arrest of two pilots of Carveton Helicopters and 10 passengers, management of the company had apologised to the state government over the conduct that led to the arrest.

He promised to personally ensure the prosecution of the Exxon Mobil staff stating that the matter would be a test case in legal jurisprudence in the country.

He said: “Security agencies arrested 22 staff of Exxon Mobil who came into the state from neighbouring Akwa Ibom State in violation of the extant Executive Order restricting movement into the state. We do not know the coronavirus status of these individuals.

“Even though security agencies advised that they be allowed to go back to Akwa Ibom State, I insisted that the law must take its course. This is because nobody is above the law.

“As a responsive government, we have quarantined them in line with the relevant health protocols and they will be charged to court.”

Wike accused the Federal Authorities of working very hard to compromise the health protection system of Rivers State and thereby make it vulnerable to coronavirus.

“Some people want the escalation of the virus in Rivers State. People were paid to canvass a negative narrative on Carveton Pilots.

“We are doing what we can within available resources to fight coronavirus. You can fly, but as you fly and land, don’t enter our territory.

“We will fight this matter legally. Exxon Mobil does not operate in Rivers State. That they have a point at the Onne seaport does not mean that they operate in Rivers State.

“People in Abuja are not happy. They want Rivers State to be infected. They want to kill Rivers people and I will not allow it. I was elected to protect Rivers people.  Rivers State is not a pariah state,” he said.

The governor, however commended individuals and corporate organizations that have strengthened the state’s capacity to fight coronavirus noting that his administration has developed a comprehensive palliatives scheme to make less privileged Rivers people survive the sit-at-home directive of his administration.

The governor said: “Our pragmatic leadership style has therefore earned our state individual and corporate support that have strengthened our prevention strategies.”

He said: “I directed the Palliatives Committee to ensure that their activities must not be partisan, religious or ethnic based.

“Let me State here that following my directive, the committee adopted a community based approach in the discharge of its assignment.

The distribution of the foodstuffs is supervised at the ward level by a five-man committee made up of a clergy man, Traditional Ruler, Community Development Committee Chairman, Woman Leader and Youth Leader.

He however, announced the suspension of  the ongoing distribution of palliatives due to complaints by some members of the public saying that in order to make the exercise more inclusive by adding some members of the civil society organisations and the Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ.

He stated that the State Government established a Food Purchasing Committee with a directive to buy foodstuffs and fish from Rivers Famers. The Committee, he said, has procured foodstuffs and set up food banks in the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State.

Wike stated that it was imperative that all companies or organizations doing full or partial business in the state support efforts at containing the coronavirus pandemic.

“Failure to support us shows total disregard for corporate social responsibility. I want to sincerely thank all individual and corporate donors who have supported us in the fight against COVID-19.

At the appropriate time, the Rivers State Government will publish their names in National Dailies and Local Tabloids for posterity.  These individuals and corporate organizations are indeed friends of the State,” he said.

He said his administration chose to be proactive because it places premium on the lives of Rivers people pointing out that Rivers State was the first State to close her borders to check the spread of coronavirus. He noted that this step was greeted by criticisms at the time, but several states have emulated this pragmatic approach.

“We were the first state in the Federation to close our borders. This attracted criticisms, but we have been vindicated as other states emulated this positive strategy.

“Even though we have recorded two cases, the index case has been discharged while the second case is doing well at the Treatment Centre. It is obvious that  our containment strategies: closure of borders, closure of schools, closure of markets, closure of night clubs, closure of Cinemas, as well as the ban of public worship, ban of public burials and weddings have helped to check the spread of coronavirus.

“This is in addition to the conduct of our healthcare professionals who have demonstrated a high level of patriotism and sacrifice in contact tracing and case management,” he said.


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