The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, on Thursday inaugurated a task force that would ensure people and vehicles are not allowed into the state except they are screened and cleared of COVID-19.
Mr Wike, at the inauguration of the task force, accused security officials in the state of sabotaging the efforts of the Rivers state government in the fight against the novel coronavirus. He said the officials were extorting from people and allowing them to enter the state against the government order.
“Anyone coming into the state must be screened by the health officials,” a statement from Mr Wike’s media aide, Simeon Nwakaudu, quoted the governor as having said. “Don’t join the security agencies to extort money from people. If that happens, the essence of this Task Force is defeated.
“We are being sabotaged at sea, land and at the Domestic Wing of the airport. Sometimes, they secretly receive flights and before we know the people sneak into the town. The Task Force in Ikwerre must check anyone coming from the airport.
“When we shout, they say we are fighting the Federal Government. All we are saying is help us to fight the virus. This is a matter of life and death,” the governor said.
It is unclear how the task force would go about their work without running into conflict with the police and other security agencies in Rivers state.
PREMIUM TIMES could not get the police reaction to the development as the police spokesperson in the state, Nnamdi Omoni, did not respond to call and text message to his telephone line.
The police authorities in Abuja recently redeployed the police commissioner in Rivers state after the state government arrested some oil workers and pilots in the state.
Besides, Governor Wike is known for having frequent clashes with the federal government, including the military authorities in Nigeria.
The governor said one of the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Rivers state is an oil worker who came from an oil rig.
“You must protect your people,” the governor said to the officials of the task force. “This Taskforce is very important. When they don’t want you to live, you must devise means to survive.
“We will not relax because if coronavirus escalates in this state, we will not get any form of support,” the governor added.
Rivers state has seven confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of April 29.
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