Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Government has announced the closure of air, sea and land routes into the state with effect from today in what it said is a move to check the spread of COVID-19.
In a broadcast yesterday, Governor Nyesom Wike said the measure became necessary in view of recent developments.
According to him, “It is with gratitude to God that I announce to you that our state would have been infected with coronavirus yesterday, but for the vigilance of security agents, who, acting on a tip-off, prevented an infected person from boarding a flight from Abuja to Port Harcourt.
“The infected person beat all security measures that were put in place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and was to sneak into Port Harcourt by air before security agents stopped her.
“Based on this alarming information, the State Security Council met yesterday and reviewed measures already put in place, and decided that there was urgent need to adopt stringent measures to protect those living and doing business in the state from the virus.
“The council has therefore taken the following painful decisions: With effect from 6p.m. on March 26, the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, will not be open to air traffic. While we may not have the right to stop flights from entering Port Harcourt, we cannot allow anybody coming from the airport to enter our state. We are confident that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other federal agencies will cooperate with us.
“All land and sea borders will be closed. Vehicular movements in an out of the state have been banned. In essence, no vehicle will leave Rivers State for any other state and no vehicle will be allowed to enter the state.”
Wike said the new measures would be in place till further notice.
“Let me reiterate that the situation we are facing requires drastic measures because coronavirus has ravaged many countries.
“Security agencies have been empowered to strictly enforce this directive. There will be no room for sacred cows because the virus is no respecter of persons.
“May I once again call for the support and understanding of everyone living and doing business in Rivers State to help the relevant government agencies to implement these measures to check the spread of coronavirus to the state,” he stated.
The governor added: “At this time in our national life, we must shun primordial sentiments and face the reality on ground.
“I am confident that God being on our side, the temporary hardship we are facing today will come to an end very soon.”
He said: “In that broadcast, I announced the setting up of surveillance posts at our land and sea borders, beginning from March 24.
“I also informed you that after due consultations with religious leaders, all forms of open worship, including crusades and vigils, were banned.
“Public burials and weddings were prohibited, while public parks, night clubs and cinemas were directed to close down.”
Meanwhile, Wike, has inaugurated the states ‘Task Force on Enforcement of the Ban on Public and Religious Gatherings’ declaring that the state government is working assiduously to save the lives of Rivers people through the tough measures in place to tackle coronavirus.
Inaugurating the task force yesterday at the Executive Council Chambers of the Government House in Port Harcourt, Wike said the state government is committed to ensuring that all residents of the state are protected from the ailment.
He said: “This is to make sure that there is compliance to all the decisions taken by the state government. I urge the security agencies to be firm in the implementation of our decision to close the borders of the state.”
Wike directed the security agencies to ensure that security operatives are deployed to the respective borders of the state.