By Okafor Ofiebor
Over 200 people have been arrested in Rivers State, as Governor Nyesom Wike monitored lockdown occasioned Coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.
Wike monitored the lockdown on Thursday in parts of Obio-Akpor and Port Harcourt local government areas, saying that the level of compliance was up to 95 percent.
He said: “I want to commend Rivers people for the level of support they have shown. The level of compliance is quite satisfactory. It is more than 95 percent within the two Local Government Areas.”
He regretted that the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Police Command moved to sabotage the lockdown by issuing illegal letters to companies.
“It is unfortunate to see the level of sabotage that we get from the police. Particularly, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Rivers State Police Command.
“The Deputy Commissioner of Police will sign approvals for companies because he wants to collect money. I am the Governor of this state and there cannot be two governors,” he said.
He said the approvals issued by the Police or any other authorities, outside the office of the Rivers State Governor were illegal.
He said: “The Deputy Commissioner of Police has no powers to issue approvals when the State Government has locked down the state. After the State Security Council met and agreed on the lockdown, the Deputy Commissioner of Police went ahead to issue illegal letters to companies to operate. I have never seen that in my life”.
The Governor said that all those who were arrested violating the lockdown would be prosecuted by the State Government.
He said: “All these violators must be prosecuted at the mobile court set for this purpose. What we are doing is not for any particular individual, it is for the interest of the state”.
Wike assured Rivers people that the lockdown will be lifted as soon as the objective is achieved.
He said: “Our people are suffering, I agree. But this is something we must do. When we examine the level of compliance and it is reasonable, of course, we will unlock the two Local Government Areas.
“It is not in our own interest that people shouldn’t come out or go to the markets. But we are talking about lives and how to protect our people.
“Look at what is happening in other parts of the country, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations wants us to suffer”.
Wike said that the State Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on the illegal activities of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations.
“I however, thank the Army, the Navy and others on what they are doing to enforce the lockdown.
“For the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations) to sabotage us, that will not be accepted. I arrested those people and he had the guts to tell them to release those I arrested on the road because he is collecting money from companies. That is unacceptable”.
Wike insisted that the impounded vehicles would be auctioned.
“The defaulters will be tried by the Mobile Courts and I have told the Attorney General, all the impounded vehicles must be auctioned. By tomorrow, the Honourable Attorney General would have advertised those vehicles and we will auction them.
“Some people don’t believe that Coronavirus is in existence. Until you make them understand that we are serious, they will not believe it. We will auction the impounded vehicles
“Those arrested will face the wrath of the law. Nobody is above the law. We will not allow anyone to sabotage our efforts to protect our people,” he said.
In the course of monitoring the level of compliance, Governor Wike arrested several violators and impounded cars.
Governor Wike also arrested some very important persons (VIPS), who were not on essential duties, but were moving around with their police escorts.
But he allowed a pregnant woman who violated the lockdown order, on compassionate grounds.
At the Elekahia Isolation Centre, over 200 persons have been arrested and over 20 vehicles impounded by different teams enforcing the lockdown. They are to face the full weight of the law.