Straight to the full Press statement obtained by DEZ MAYORZ.
COVID-19: A PRESS BRIEFING BY HON. (EVANG.) HOPE O. IKIRIKO, CNA THE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, AHOADA WEST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, RIVERS STATE THIS DAY THE 15TH JUNE, 2020.
1. It gives us joy today to thank God for preserving us in this life demanding season of the buffeting terror of the deaths caused by the COVID-19. I also pray that God will comfort all who lost their loved ones by the infections of the Corona Virus pandemic.
2. It is important to put on the register the tireless and selfless efforts of His Excellency Chief (Barr.) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike CON, Governor of Rivers State in supporting the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in waging the war to contain the spread of the deadly virus in the State.
3. It is also on record that our dear Governor became the pathfinder among the States in lining up the actions and guidelines needed to limit and eradicate the spread of the virus. He began by exercising certain salient uncommon powers conferred on him and signed the Executive Orders which authorized the closure of all borders in and out of Rivers State and restriction of movements among others. He scored another first when he inaugurated all relevant Committees required to assist the River State Government towards the containment of the spread of the virus.
4. Having set the pace, the Local Government Council Chairmen followed up as we began to campaign and enlighten our people on the various manners of life against the spread of the killer virus.
5. Permit me ladies and gentlemen to specially mention and appreciate the bravery of the Heads of Security Agencies in Ahoada West Local Government Area who mobilized their men to the borders and various hotbeds in support of the Governor’s Executive Orders, enforcement of same and provision of security to guard the operations of the Task Forces placed at the borders and dispersal of trading activities that are hateful to the Executive Orders. May God Almighty reward your labors of love for humanity.
6. Consequently, Ahoada West Local Government Council where God has placed me as the Executive Chairman is contributing it’s quota in various ways at it’s utmost discomfort in supporting the Orders of the Federal and State Governments and have achieved the following in the help to containing the spread of the Novel Corona Virus Disease which began in China in 2019 popularly known as COVID-19 finding its way to all nations of the earth, hence a Corona Virus Pandemic:
i. My appointment among the LGA Chairmen as a member of State Surveillance Committee by His Excellency Governor of Rivers State on the 24th March, 2020.
ii. Inauguration of Ahoada West LGA COVID-19 Sensitization and Prevention Committee on the 24th March 2020 headed by the Vice Chairman of Council Hon. Ubile Jack.
iii. My appointment as a member of the State Palliative Distribution Committee by His Excellency Governor of Rivers State on the 6th April, 2020.
iv. My appointment as a member of the State Palliative Purchase Committee on 7th April, 2020 by His Excellency Governor of Rivers State.
v. Appointment of the LGA Palliatives Purchasing Committee headed by the Secretary to the Local Government Hon. Ezekiel Agri F. on the 11th April, 2020.
vi. Appointment of interstate border monitoring Committee and Task Force on Enforcement of Compliance to His Excellency’s Executive Orders on the 30th April, 2020.
vii. Appointment of the LGA Committee on State’s Palliatives Distribution chaired by the Honourable Vice Chairman of Council Ubile Jack on the 11th of April, 2020.
viii. Appointment of the Wards 5 member Committee on State’s Palliatives Distribution each chaired by the Councilor representing the ward on 11th April, 2020.
ix. Construction of some road furniture at the Mbiama Border axis of the East/West road.
x. Engagement of Public Health Personnel who administer the hygiene materials on pedestrians and persons on essential duties and movements.
xi. Purchase of hygiene materials and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks and distribution to Committee and Communities.
xii. Production of clearance pass to natives of AWELGA Communities living across the border, 16th May 2020.
xiii. Inauguration of enforcement Task Force on His Excellency’s Executive Order, 30th April, 2020.
xiv. Inauguration of Task Force on His Excellency’s Executive Order on closure of hotels and allied business 7th May, 2020.
xv. Request for establishment of Mobile Courts and commencement of same to conduct trials of violators of the Executive Orders of the Governor of Rivers State and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
xvi. Mobilization of security agencies and the members Rivers State COVID-19 Task Forces in Ahoada West LGA who checked and uncovered movement of idle and disorderly persons without fixed addresses moving into the State through the Mbiama border from Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano and Jigawa States. The disorderly persons were accordingly handed over to the Mobile Court by the Police.
xvii. Discovering of unknown and unauthorized gun men named NATFORCE who engage in escorts of men and vehicles without authorization by the State and Federal Governments.
xviii. Discovering of combination of both cows, goats and disorderly young men carried in the same truck buckets especially from Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano and Jigawa States.
xix. I, as the Executive Chairman also led the Security agencies, Rivers State COVID-19 Task Forces and Community Leaders on enforcement of the Executive Orders of the Governor of Rivers State and the Executive Orders of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Border closure among others in various parts of the Local Government Area.
7. From the foregoing and the live experience while monitoring the borders at Joinkrama, Okarki and Mbiama, it is very urgent that I inform the State Government, Federal Government and the general public to mount its watch and provide for additional intelligence to check the mixed population in Rivers State as our surveillance around the Mbiama border axis of the East/West Road revealed high traffic of disorderly young men whose identities and places of abode are far from clear. Though they claimed to have moved from Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano and Jigawa States without a fixed destination.
8. For record purposes, on Sunday 3rd May 2020, the Rivers State COVID-19 Taskforce and the Government Security agents intercepted full load of 18 Seater Hiace Bus coming into Rivers State through Mbiama Border. On the 6th of May, 14 young men from Kano were found hiding in the bucket of a truck conveying livestock and were intercepted at the same Border Point. And on the 15th of May, another 26 young men were intercepted in a truck conveying livestock, June 10th, a truck carrying 36 disorderly young men were intercepted and prevented from gaining entrance into Rivers State. On the 12th of June 2020, 60 disorderly young men in 3 buses coming from Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa and Kebbi States were again intercepted and prevented from entering the State. On 14th June, 2020, 30 additional disorderly young men were also intercepted.
9. The movement of unknown and unauthorized gun men were seen in the uniform inscribed NATFORCE as the name of the security outfit was also very visible moving into Rivers State. Similarly, some of the disorderly young men forcefully took possession of Ahoada West Local Government Council’s District Office premises at Okogbe and attracted some of their cattle rearing allies who dwell in that environment with their cows.
10. It is not in doubt that the influx of this disorderly unidentified young men without fixed destination into the LGA in Rivers State boosted the rate of kidnapping around the Mbiama axis of the East/West road. And resurgence of deadly cultists masquerading as members of MASSOB in the area. Though by the swift operation of the Joint Task Force, the Police and other security agents with the collaboration of Community leaders, the kidnappers and the cultists were accordingly apprehended.
11. Therefore, having sworn to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is incumbent upon me to alert not as a doom Local Government Chairman but as one compelled by Law to ensure Order and protect the lives and property of the people of Ahoada West Local Government Area. Put differently, it is hereby my obligation to inform the general public, the State and Federal Governments accordingly as the saying goes ‘Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty’.
12. In addition, this Pandemic is a type of war, millions of people are losing their lives, economies of countries are shut down, families are devastated, international Trade relationships are tottering in disarray, diplomatic and international relations are destroyed or put on hold, corporate religious worship is suspended globally, of-course the damaging negative impacts of the pandemic is innumerably immeasurable.
13. Beloved citizens, ladies and gentlemen, the Pandemic have compelled a new way of life in all realms of humanity and so adjustments are required for all of us and in all of us to be saved. It does not call for holding on to religious myths to say that the virus does not exist because it is real as several persons are verifiably dead by the infections of the virus. It calls for increase in Godliness and obeying the practice of the injunctions of loving our neighbours as ourselves and being our brothers keepers. We must share what we have with the have-nots so that life will spread within our domains of influence or neighbourhood. As a humanity centered government we shall stop at nothing to deploy all available resources in fighting spread and the possible elimination of the virus, God helping us.
14. Let us not forget to thank the Governor of Rivers State again for providing and giving so much palliatives that were distributed across the Local Government Areas and various organizations/Communities and Provision of infrastructures (isolation and treatment centers) in Rivers State. And for standing firm in the fight against the spread of the deadly scourge including provision of isolation centres and remaining the dependable watchman and defender of the vulnerable, voiceless and defenseless Rivers people without compromise.
15. Nonetheless, there are more infrastructures urgently needed to be provided by the Federal and State Governments to ensure continuous fight against the spread of the virus; believing that the duties of policing and control of interstate borders is within the purview of the government of the States and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
16. Therefore, I plead with Mr. President to urgently complete the construction of East/West road that connect Ahoada West Local Government Area to Port Harcourt, Bayelsa, Delta and other States of the Federation.
17. There is also need for the following provisions to be made urgently as we continue the fight against the spread of the Corona virus:
i. Provision of additional Police Division, commencement of the approved one, equipping of the Akinima Divisional Police Headquarters in the Local Government Area as the demands for policing overwhelms the only one poorly equipped Divisional Police station in Akinima town.
ii. Provision of a Permanent formation of a Joint Task Force of the various armed Government Security agency’s personnel to manage the security at the Mbiama axis of the border.
iii. Provision of adequate needed road furniture to house the operation of the Joint Task Forces in the area.
iv. Immediate completion of the East/West road to put an end to the trading on the road called Mbiama market.
v. Additional grants to the Local Government Councils around various borders of the Rivers State, to provide for the resources needed for control of it’s intergovernmental border security control functions.
18. The issues of the COVID-19 do not need a long press statement, it is expected therefore that the press as part of the fourth estate of the realm having contributed in the public education to preserve men to disfavor the spread of the virus, should continue to do it’s measure and support all further efforts of governments at all levels in containing the spread of the virus. The advocacy duties of the press and journalism have assisted governments, organizations and individuals in wars against enemies of mankind including the ravaging hydra headedness of the COVID-19 pandemic. Do not be weary it is a well doing that shall be rewarded by God Himself and by all men of goodwill.
19. Ladies and gentlemen, May I at this juncture appeal that your three duties of preserving the public education, preserving the wellbeing of the society and upholding the sustainability of humanity should not slip off your hands because one generation passes the baton unto another as the record of this day of those who fought and killed the Corona Virus Pandemic shall be opened and your names found in the positive side written in gold. So where ever your influences reaches, publish this message and join us in the continuous combat of the spread of the virus.
Thanks for listening and God bless.