The lockdown in Obio-Akpor and Port Harcourt Council Areas of Rivers State took another dimension yesterday, as Governor Nyesom Wike, ordered the demolition hotels in Eleme Council for flouting the state’s directives.
The demolished hotels are Prudent Hotel, Alode in Eleme and Etemeteh Hotel in Onne.
Wike had on May 5, 2020, charged traditional rulers to set up Task Force in their respective communities to enforce the closure of markets, hotels and bars across the state.
Also, on May 7, while inaugurating the state’s COVID-19 Local Government Task Force, Wike urged them to identify hotels and erring bars still operating during the lockdown for demolition.
Wike said, “From tomorrow any hotel that operates will be brought down. Those who disobey the directive will face the consequences.”
However, on Saturday Governor Wike announced the names of the two hotels, declaring that they would be demolished for flouting the state Government Executive Order Six.
But some residents of the state criticised the action, describing it as impunity worse than action of a military regime.
Some human rights activists also took to social media to describe it as a sad development, adding that the owners of the hotels should have been given fair hearing.
One of the activists, Chinedu Uchegbu insisted that it was wrong for Governor Wike to act without concrete evidence that the hotels operated during the lockdown.
On his part, Co-Chairman of CSOs/Media COVID-19 Situation Room in Rivers State, Sebastian Kpalap, described the governor’s action as “insane and draconian.”
A civil rights advocate and former Special Adviser to Governor Wike, Christian Inko-tariah said, “This is no longer democracy but a dictatorship in Rivers State, the governor has become a despot, who acts on whims.”
Speaking, a constitutional lawyer, Angus Chukwuka, described the action, as hasty and harsh, stressing that judicial process was not followed before the demolition.
However, the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) and Socio- Economic Rights Accountability Project (SERAP), said it has commenced move to sue the state government for demolishing the hotels in Eleme.
The Executive Director of YEAC, Fynface Fyneface, disclosed that they have begun documentations for the court action.
Owner of the Prudent Hotel, Needam Gogorodani, said Wike’s action has already started affecting him and others, adding that the hotel had 60 employees, who have automatically lost their jobs.
Besides, Rivers State Commissioner of Police (CP), Joseph Mukan, has appealed for calm from the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), over police illegal detention of a university teacher under the guise of enforcing the lockdown in Port Harcourt.
Some police officers had arrested Dr. Lucky Legbosi Nwidu, a pharmacist and senior lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, who in spite of presenting his permit from the Rivers State Ministry of Health to offer essential services, was detained for over seven and half hours and N20,000 extorted from his lawyer to grant him bail.
Rivers State Police Command Spokesperson, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, said Mukan has ordered full investigation into the alleged inhuman treatment meted to Nwizu, who is also Director of Luckpharm Pharmacy at the Ozuoba Police Station.
Also yesterday, Governor Wike installed iron bars in the state boundaries to restrict movements in and out of Rivers in an attempt to effectively contain the spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai at the weekend ordered the demolition of a relaxation centre opposite the Command Secondary School in Kaduna South Council Area, where people were drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.