Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, at the weekend made good his threat to demolish hotels operating in Port Harcourt, the state capital despite the ongoing 24-hour lockdown to check the coronavirus pandemic.
The Governor, while placing the capital city comprising Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpo local government areas on curfew, vowed to pull down hotels still operating during the lockdown and buildings, whose shops opened for business.
A statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Paulinus Nsirim, on Saturday said some hotels were already found culpable of disobeying Wike’s lockdown directive.
Nsirim identified defaulting hotels as Prodest Hotel, Alode, Eleme and Edemeteh Hotel, Onne and said they would be demolished in line with the governor’s executive order.
The governor stunned persons, who thought he was joking over the demolition threat, when he accompanied a bulldozer to the Prodest Hotel.
Accompanied by armed security operatives, he watched as the earth-moving machine pulverized the hotel. The same fate befell the Edemeteh Hotel, Onne.
The governor further demonstrated his no-nonsense disposition to his directives for the containment of the pandemic, when he stormed some roads in the capital city to enforce the lockdown.
Wike, who was in jeans trousers, long-sleeve shirt and a cap, personally stopped cars including pilot vehicles conveying very important personalities and ordered security operatives to take them to isolation centers.
He ordered vehicles of the defaulters to be impounded and asked mobile policemen escorting their principals to trek home.
The governor only allowed persons on essential duties and a pregnant woman, who said she was going for ante-natal to proceed to their destinations.
A statement by the governor’s Special Assitant on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, confirmed that Wike monitored the demolition of Prudent Hotel, Alode, Eleme and Etemeteh Hotel, Onne in line with Rivers State Government Executive Order 6, which banned the operation of hotels across the 23 local government areas of the state.
Stating laws must be obeyed, the governor said: “Government has no alternative but to apply the executive order, which I signed before the lockdown of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt. I called all the traditional rulers and council chairmen and told them to ensure that no hotel operates in the state.
“We are not saying it will be forever. This is for now, so that we know where we are. To reduce the cases and check the spread.
“Whether you are PDP or not, all we are saying is that nobody is above the law. If we can do this to a PDP person, then you know we are not discriminatory. Everyone must obey. Whether you are in PDP, SDP or no party, you must obey the law. If any other person does the same thing, the same rule will apply.
“We said no hotel should operate within this period. Unfortunately, the PDP Youth Leader in Eleme joined others to flout the Executive Order. Therefore, the executive order will be applied.
“We said if any hotel operates, government will bring down that hotel. We are doing what we have told people that we are going to do. Nobody wants to obey any rules. We are saying just for now, keep off, let us see how we can keep our people safe”.
He said the focus on hotels was because one of the cases in the state spread the virus from such facility.
He said: “Look at the rate of infections, most of these people are found in hotels. Look at the man that died, he was at Mingi Hotel in Rumumasi. Due to that contact, we have had other seven cases.
“People should help us and support Government for Rivers people to be safe. Security Council will meet to review the strategies and achievements or setbacks, moving forward.
“All we are doing is to protect our people. Some people may not like our strategies, but our objective is to achieve results. People talk about hunger. But it is only a living person that can discuss hunger. We will continue to work to protect our people.
“What we are doing is to tell the people that the State Government is serious. This being led by me, people should know that the State Government is determined to ensure that we defeat coronavirus”